Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Top 10 Posts of 2020

Trying to determine which ten of our 368 blog posts in 2020 drew the most eyes is not as straightforward a task as it might seem.

A post may have low numbers in its first week of publication, then catch fire later in the year when somebody links to it on Facebook or Twitter, or because it has a unique term in it that is being repeatedly entered into search engines. Totaling up pageviews only tells us a post is really popular when a few months have passed, meaning that articles written in the last quarter of any given calendar year are hard pressed to crack a Top 10 compiled purely by the numbers.

Sometimes, frankly, figuring out why any particular post drew so much attention is simply impossible even when you happen to be its author. (#6 comes to mind.)

Still, the first couple weeks of February 2020 must’ve been really cold. That’s the only reason I can think of to explain why five of our most-read posts last year came from a ten-day period at the beginning of that month. Too bad we had no idea most of us were going to end up spending March, April and most of May locked down, or a few more of us might’ve gone skiing in February instead of sitting indoors browsing the internet.

You may be happy to hear that only two posts in our Top 10 have anything to do with the fallout from the biggest story of 2020. (The posts to avoid if you are COVID-fatigued like me are #1 and 9.)

So here, without further ado, are our ten most-read new posts of 2020:

10. Authority and Example (February 9)

“You can’t get ‘ought’ from ‘is’ ”, as David Hume famously put it. This principle is observable in the Bible too. Most of the time its books of history simply record what happened. Telling us what we should conclude about it — much less do about it — generally requires some sort of editorial comment or authorial aside. And yet, at first glance there seem to be a few exceptions to this principle in the gospels ... or are there?
By Tom

Masking in church. If there has been a touchier subject among believers this year, I’m not aware of what it might be. Some people have left churches over it. Both sides of the issue considered.
By Tom

8. The Best Rhetoric (February 4)

It’s always a bit of a lark when wicked people whinge about being hard done by. But it also reminds us that God’s laws are indelibly written on the hearts of men and women. When the backs of the wicked are to the wall and their own evil devices are being used against them, suddenly right and wrong are no longer merely social constructs. The best rhetoric is always the truest rhetoric, and the only really convincing arguments are moral arguments.
By Tom

7. Smeagol on a Leash (April 30)

If you’ve seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you will remember Smeagol, a nasty creature of the dark taken captive by J.R.R. Tolkien’s heroes as an alternative to having to kill the homicidal little maniac on the spot. Smeagol doesn’t take well to being ‘rescued’ in this fashion, especially with a rope around his neck leading him where he does not want to go. How does this central metaphor relate to Christian hope, and people who react badly to being loved? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out ...
By Immanuel Can

6. Time and Chance (21) (February 1)

The 21st instalment in our 55-part series on Ecclesiastes, this post explores Solomon’s use of proverbs in his larger treatise, specifically three from chapter 5 about money and the problems it causes.
By Tom

5. The Text and Me (January 15)

How is it that after literally centuries of serviceability, insufficiently-inclusive nouns and pronouns have suddenly acquired the magic ability to estrange Christian readers from their English Bibles? Where am I in the text? we ask. And sometimes ... we are nowhere to be found. But if my enjoyment of the Bible is conditioned primarily on my ability to find myself in the verses I am reading, I am going to be disappointed on a regular basis. At the interpretation level, Bible study is almost always an exercise in reading someone else’s mail. That’s not always a bad thing.
By Tom

4. Anonymous Asks (79) (February 10)

“Is being depressed a sin?” All other things being equal, no: medical conditions and genetic predispositions are not right or wrong, they just are. And yet, the word “depression” is often incorrectly used to describe other conditions: grief, guilt, a melancholic disposition, or even the consequences of undisciplined living. Successfully treating depression requires that we first learn to correctly identify it.
By Tom

“It’s not over ’til it’s over.” Love hopes all things, and Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard has given some special thought to what that means. This is the first instalment in Immanuel Can’s “Smeagol” trilogy.
By Immanuel Can
2. Anonymous Asks (78) (February 3)

“Is what I feel love or lust?” Hey, it could be both, or maybe something else entirely. But conceding the binary nature of the question, how might we biblically distinguish the lust-only state from the condition of loving someone while simultaneously deeply desiring them? It might be a bit of a cliché, but 1 Corinthians 13 provides some answers.
By Tom

1. 91 and 19 (April 19)

I detested the idea of writing COVID-19-related posts so much that I waited until well into April to concede that the problem wasn’t going to stop affecting our efforts at Christian living anytime soon. What finally made me acknowledge the pandemic in writing was watching a video of a well-intentioned fellow believer misapplying Psalm 91 to nasty little flu viruses that kill people. Trust me, it just doesn’t fit. 91 and 19 are chalk and cheese.
By Tom

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