“Blog” is a word that was coined nearly two decades ago as a shortened version of “web log.” As the word suggests, blogs originated as online spaces in which individuals or groups log their experiences in something approaching real time, much as a sailor would record the daily weather conditions onboard hundreds of years ago. “Blog” can be used as a noun or a verb, but in either case this compact word almost describes itself. Not poetic or thought-provoking or nuanced. Rather— short, efficient, straightforward.
So the word “blog” itself pretty much sums up the promise and perils of the genre. On the one hand, blogging offers a wealth of opportunity, especially for writers like me who are trying to figure out topics of interest to readers, or work through new ideas, or build an audience of people interested in those topics and ideas. Over the past few years, I have been blogging about faith, family, and disability here at Thin Places (and elsewhere), and I’m grateful for what that opportunity has afforded me. I’ve been able to provide a space for conversation by curating guest posts around topics like racial reconciliation or rest or contraception. I’ve been able to offer my own thoughts about a whole host of topics, from advances in prenatal testing to reflections on quiet times and church attendance, from sexuality to the Oscars. I’ve been able to highlight some of the good work happening within the church, especially when it comes to disability, and I’ve been able to participate in some online conversations about events within the news.
Blogging offers a terrific forum for pushing ideas out into the world for immediate consumption and conversation. At its best, it provides a way to engage the world around us thoughtfully and faithfully. I hope that through the years this blog has offered a space for growth and learning for its readers. I know it has offered a place for me to wrestle with ideas, to grow as a writer, and to recognize some of my own blind spots.
And yet blogging has its limits. For one, it survives because of the incessant now. Blog posts about last week’s news are, well, last week’s news. People don’t generally read blogs for reflection on timeless topics. Blogging also relies heavily upon titles. If I write a post with the word “sex” in the title, ten times as many people will click on the post than if the word “love” or “hope” or “child” appears there. Controversy and pop culture also drive blog traffic, for better and for worse.
Blogging also depends upon consistency and frequency. My contract with Christianity Today calls for at least two posts each week of at least 500 words. As a result, I am always thinking about the next blog post, the next argument I can craft that will be current, relevant, and draw in readers through a catchy title. Blogging is quick, immediate, and fleeting. It provides perspective for today that is easily forgotten tomorrow.
Which is why I need to stop blogging.
I finished the manuscript of Small Talk: Learning from my Children about What Matters Most last summer. I haven’t written anything longer than a blog post since then. And as much as I enjoy entering into the debating fray on topics as far ranging as transgender identity and the mommy wars, I believe my calling is, first and foremost, to communicate ideas with greater breadth and depth than blogging makes possible.
With gratitude to the wonderful team at Christianity Today (and especially Katelyn Beaty) who has made this space possible for the past 14 months, today I am announcing that next week will hold the final posts for Thin Places.
Hopefully you will continue to see my name here at Christianity Today as I return to regular contributions over at Her.meneutics. I will also continue to blog twice a month for Parents.com. But the bulk of my writing time will turn from these short analytical arguments about current events to developing a new book about the importance of reading within families. There’s a part of me that wishes I could blog and write books at the same time, but at least for now that’s not a realistic option. I’m trading in one four-letter writing genre for another. I hope you’ll keep reading.