2013 in Review (And a Thank You!)
So, 2013 is drawing to a close, which means it’s time to take a peek in the rearview mirror and reflect a bit on the year that has nearly passed. In the blogging world, this means—what else?!—highlighting the most read posts on this blog over the past 365 days or so. It’s an imperfect tool of evaluation, obviously—a cursory count of clicks and page views hardly provides an accurate assessment of meaningful or substantive engagement—but I suppose it give some sense of the themes that drew people here over the year. Whenever I look at statistical summaries on this blog, I find myself scratching my head. That was my most-read post?! I don’t even like that one! Why didn’t ____ make the list? Posts that I am convinced are the best thing the internet has seen since, well, two hours or so ago languish in obscurity while others that I dashed off in twenty minutes generate more traffic than I would ever have expected. I suppose such is the nature of blogging.
At any rate, I sense that I may have just about used up your patience for qualifications and caveats. Here are the top 5 posts of 2013, with a bit of reflection on each:
I continue to marvel that this post, a book review written in 2010, generates the traffic that it does because it would definitely fall into the category of posts that I can barely tolerate myself. Evidently, people in internet-land feel quite a bit more strongly about Sarah Young and her book than I do. It’s one of only two posts I’ve written here that has generated over 100 comments. I wrote this post for a book-reviewing outfit that I no longer use. To be perfectly honest, I ordered the book knowing next to nothing about it. If I had done a bit of homework and realized that it was a devotional book, I almost certainly would not have even ordered it and, thus, never written this review which has annually generated almost twice the traffic of anything else that I have written. I didn’t like the book and I find my review of it (and the mind-numbingly tedious comments it generated) intolerably dull.
(How’s that for an inspirational beginning to this year’s list?)
I think this one struck a chord for obvious reasons. Many people know firsthand the experience of rejection. Bullying, teen suicide, have been all over the news for the last few years. We hurt for kids who must learn so early of the cruelty and loneliness of life. We instinctively long for a world where people are treated with the simple kindness that can often mean the difference between life and death, whether this death is physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, or whatever.
A reminder that, as Christians, we follow a “loser God” who was scorned, rejected, and brutally mistreated by the very people he came to save.
This is another older post (written in 2009), but one that continues to generate a lot of traffic and comments (this would be the other post with 100+ comments). Gender inequality is alive and well, alas. The comment thread on this one has yielded some heartbreaking expressions of pain and uncertainty from women about the nature of God and how to live and think in an evangelical context where patriarchy seems often to be assumed and projected back on to God.
The most haunting question for me—one that shows up when I look at what people searched to find this post—is this: “Does God really love women?” Christ have mercy.
This one came out of a heartbreaking day of listening to the stories of Indian Residential School survivors here in southern Alberta. I wrote a fair bit about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2013, whether about the national event I attended in Montreal in March, or about events closer to home. So many painful stories of neglect and abuse. This one stands out, I think, because, again, it involves children. Whatever our politics or our theology, we all know that children deserve better than our world so frequently gives them.
In my experience, many, many Mennonites or Anabaptists are enormously conflicted about pacifism. I’m one of them, as this reflection on the ongoing Syrian tragedy makes clear.
So, those posts represent the top of the pile for 2013, my seventh year of blogging.
(Wait, isn’t seven the biblical number of completion or perfection? Nowhere to go but down from here, I guess 🙂 )
In all seriousness, though, the main reason for a year-end post like this is to simply and sincerely say, “thank you for reading.” I receive many kind words of affirmation and encouragement about the writing I do here—words for which I do not always properly express my gratitude. It really does mean a lot to me that you would take the time to read and respond to what I do here. There is a lot of me in these posts and pages. It is immensely gratifying for me to continue to discover that some of the things that matter most to me in this world—the things that break my heart and things that bring me unspeakable joy and hope—also matter to others.