This was a hard list to come up with. This blog has a highly critical eye towards metrics, so it might be a surprise to people that we don’t keep metrics on this blog. We don’t use Google Analytics or other statistical analysis. I don’t worry if a particular post doesn’t seem to be engaged. Such things would be useful if blogging was my primary gig; but for a hobby, it’s not necessary.
So coming up with a top 14 list for HX was a bit of a challenge without those built-in metrics. I ended up combining two sources: First, popularity based on Facebook reach from our Facebook page–it’s not ubiquitous, but they do keep stats, so might as well use it; Second, number of comments in the past year.
Here’s the top 14 posts in the three primary categories of Hacking Christianity:
- Is the Simplest form of Church just a Dinner Table? (non-traditional church models)
- What replaces Hell in Progressive Evangelism (if you don’t believe in hell, why do evangelism?)
- A Seussical Communion Liturgy (surprise treat of a great whimsical liturgy)
More here: Church Talk category
- Why Straight White Men Want to Close General Conference (this one got some serious conversation…including 7 blog posts in rebuttal)
- American Nations and the UMC (novel application of Woodard’s thesis to United Methodism)
- Why do the largest UMCs not have female pastors? (consideration of megachurches’ lack of women senior pastors)
- Echoes of Jim Crow in the United Methodist Church (comparing LGBT-affirming clergy to poll workers in racially segregated times)
- A Way Forward for Whom? (epic guest post by Dr. Dorothee Benz refuting A Way Forward)
- The Release of Methodism 2.0 (Over 100 comments for this manifesto that set the tone for 2014 in a big way)
- Orthodoxy: It doesn’t mean what you think it means (pushing back against the Asbury President’s altering of what Orthodoxy means)
- The Church of Illusion: Framing the Schism spectacle (a shot-across-the-bow to the schismatics to put up a plan or stop trying to hold the church hostage…and it worked)
More here: United Methodism category
- May the Fourth Be With You (Star Wars parody worship service)
- Seek the Minority Report in the Gospel (bible study using Minority Report and WWZ hermeneutics)
- Religion and Doctor Who (link to hourlong lecture by Dr. James McGrath)
More here: Geek Gospel category
Closing commentary on United Methodism
The popularity of the United Methodist posts dwarf those other categories rather significantly. Looking at the top 8 posts from that category, I have three off-the-cuff explanations why:
- This blog does the work. Whether it is pairing annual conferences with cultures, running the apportionment numbers, checking the number of female pastors, and matching schismatic sabre-rattling with the Bishop’s schedules, this blog does the work that few others are willing to do. It’s not terribly hard, but unless you have a passion for it and the know-how of how to get the data compiled, it’s not going to come easily. Thankfully this blog fills that niche of being the Nate Silver of the UMC by combining available data with an ability to draw forth informed conclusions from it.
- Folks are hungry for constructive progressive thought in the United Methodist Church. In many parts of United Methodism, progressives are reacting to the conservative/traditionalist culture around them. I know I was more reactionary when I first moved to rural Oklahoma; however, being in charge of youth changed me to the constructive side very quickly. The flip side is true: in more progressive areas, traditionalists can be more reactionary than constructive. Thus I hope to continue to contribute to the building up of progressive thought and practice by being more constructive than deconstructive.
- The power centers of United Methodism are not used to being challenged in this online format. If megachurch pastors are challenged in their conferences by either Bishops or smaller church pastors or even parishioners, the repercussions are direct. If seminary presidents are challenged by their students, that’s risky business. As a fully-ordained pastor now serving in the Western Jurisdiction, I only have concerns about being honest, articulate, and backing up my writings. The severity of the response to the Straight White Men and the Methodism 2.0 conversations by usually stoic voices–in my opinion–betrays a sense of fear of how online discussion changes the power structure of religious conversation…forever.
Thanks for reading in 2014, and look for much, much more in 2015. I can’t hardly wait.