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Happy Birthday to Me

Apparently, this little blog is celebrating a birthday today. It was fifteen years ago today that I first pressed “publish” and sent a few thoughts out into the ether. WordPress was kind enough to give me a heartfelt birthday notification along with some stats today (I was touched, obviously). Over the last decade and a half, I have evidently written 1412 posts which have generated 13 995 comments. Which seems like rather a lot of words. Needless to say, a lot more than I expected way back on January 20, 2007.

If memory serves, this blog began on a dreary, rainy Vancouver day, a few days into a new semester, about half way through into finishing a graduate degree in theology. We were about a year-and-a-half into our six-year West Coast sojourn. I had a clunky desktop computer set up beside our freezer in a cozy little house that had been generously offered to at a discount us by a local church. My kids were in grade one. The idea of pastoral ministry wasn’t really even on my radar (I still had the laughable idea that I would be a theology professor some day!). The world of blogging was still kind of in its infancy. Same goes for Facebook and Twitter, both of which had not yet morphed into the world-destroying entities that they would become. The idea of writing and interacting with others online seemed new and fresh and exciting.

Fast-forward fifteen years and it’s interesting to ponder how much has changed. Blogging is very much yesterday’s news. Most online interaction has migrated on to other less wordy platforms. I started off writing mostly just as a curious student of theology. Then I became a pastor and the blog probably changed a bit, even if I didn’t intend or want it to. Maybe I started to tell more stories and spend less time on abstract theology and philosophy. I’m sure I became “too religious” for some readers. At some point I joined Facebook and used it to promote the blog, which led to a bump in traffic and engagement across platforms. That was exciting, for a while. And then I realized that Facebook was destroying my soul and deleted my account. And the traffic dropped off. And the world kept right on turning, crazily. I suppose this all represents a fairly normal trajectory. Blogs, like kids, change as they grow up.

I think it’s also fair to say that we have changed over the last fifteen years. I think social media in all its forms has shortened our attention spans, made us angrier and more reactive, and sent people veering off into rather inflexible positions on the far left and far right. This has had a chilling effect upon our discourse, in my view. It’s not a great time to want to ask uncomfortable questions. I read an article in The New York Times this morning that said that 62% of Americans and 68% of college students “are reluctant to share their true political views for fear of negative social consequences.” This seems insane to me (especially the fact that the numbers are higher for college students, which says a lot about college culture these days and should have university administrators thoroughly worried). And yet no sooner do I say that it’s insane than I must acknowledge that I certainly feel the same, at times. I try to be careful about what I say here and about how I say it. Perhaps too careful. But I can think of very few public people these days who don’t self-censor for fear of being screamed at by a Twitter mob (from the left or the right). It is not a good time to refuse to sing from the songbook, whoever’s version of it we’re talking about.

Having noted that online discourse has gotten quite a bit uglier in the fifteen years of this blog’s existence, I must also say that I have experienced much grace, generosity, intelligent push-back, and just plain old kindness in this space. I have met interesting people. I have had fascinating conversations (on the blog and in private correspondence that this or that post generated). I have had writing opportunities extended because of something someone read here. Indeed, this blog probably played a role, however small, in getting me a job in both of the churches where I have served as pastor. So yeah, it’s been okay. These are the kinds of things that keep me writing here. That and, you know, just continuing to love writing and theology and good stories and interesting people.

At any rate, happy birthday little blog. You talk too much sometimes, and you’ve made me want to tear out my (non-existent) hair, but I’m also not too humble to admit that I’m kinda proud to call you mine. Don’t go doing anything stupid in your later teenage years. Remember, you’re growing up on the Internet and nothing ever disappears online. Behave yourself.

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Happy blog birthday!

    January 20, 2022
  2. William and Renita Hamm #

    Congratulations, Ryan. That’s quite a milestone. A lot of words. A lot of interesting perspective. A lot of influence, I dare say.

    I can’t articulate how much your musings have fed my thoughts these past years. Lots of good intellectual challenges as well as reminders to hear from people who see God and life differently than I do. I appreciated you introducing me to different authors and thinkers. Richard Beck. Jonathan Haidt.

    Anyways, thank for your faithfulness and for all the stimulating (one-sided) dialogue.

    Love, Renita

    >

    January 20, 2022
  3. Marg #

    That was well done. Happy Birthday blog. Love to read you every week
    Marg

    January 20, 2022
  4. Natalie w #

    Congrats Ryan. Love to read what you’ve written.

    January 20, 2022
  5. Always enjoy reading Rumblings, Ryan. You have a writing gift and I like the way you think.

    January 20, 2022
  6. Kyra Humphrey #

    Very glad that you’re still here. Although I only have time to read once in awhile, I’m always moved in mind and/or heart by what you share. Thanks for persisting, Ryan, and Happy Birthday, Rumblings!

    January 20, 2022
  7. Pauline Kinney #

    Thank you for enduring all the growing pains. I thoroughly appreciate what you have to say.

    January 21, 2022
  8. Reading/checking this Blog has become as much a routine for me as morning coffee and I greatly appreciate the time and effort invested in it’s maintenance. Ryan, you are a Brilliant writer,thinker and diplomat!

    January 21, 2022
  9. Thanks, all, for these very encouraging words. I appreciate you reading.

    January 21, 2022
  10. Tanya #

    I don’t leave comments often, but I rarely miss a post. I am very thankful for your stories, words and thoughts in this world as they often spark further conversation, and I believe they have a much further reach than you will every know. You speak with honesty, humbleness and grace, and look I forward to seeing “Rumblings” in my inbox. Happy birthday.

    January 24, 2022
  11. Mark #

    I never comment but have missed very few posts. Happy Birthday!
    I would be cautious, however, I have seen this teenager out on the weekends and it has a tendency to misbehave!! Keep some tight reigns on Rumblings……ah nevermind..let it misbehave a bit! 😉
    Thanks Ryan for your willingness to engage well, share often, be vulnerable, tell good stories and cause the reader to think!!

    January 25, 2022
  12. Tanya, Mark… Thank you.

    (Mark, I’ll try to cut the blog some slack on weekends 😉 )

    January 25, 2022
    • Are you still censoring my comments?

      January 26, 2022
      • As I’ve said before, I am not and have never censored your comments.

        January 26, 2022
      • Free Erahjohn!—Free Erahjohn!—-Free Erajohn!—-Free Erahjohn!

        January 26, 2022
      • Lol…I love you, Mike.

        You nailed it when you said Ryan is a brilliant writer and thinker. Undoubtably true. His potential to inspire and lead is breathtaking.

        Sadly though, as you also sagely noted, too much the diplomat.

        Real truth, Jesus Christ truth, will always offend those who cannot or will not confront their own pride, malevolence and greed.

        At the end of the day if we are not offending some of the people, some of the time, we are mostly talking shit….

        So there is a war to win and a trucker led convoy here in Canada that is looking to be that, “critical mass” moment, when honest people find the courage to stand together and change the course of history….

        And from this corner, from this brilliant thinker and writer… “crickets”.

        I’ll say no more, each man to his own conscience, but my time here is nearly over.

        God’s work is calling and I honestly don’t see it being done here….not like it could be.

        January 28, 2022

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