2012: That Was The Year That Was

Thanks to all of you for making this a great year here at The Pietist Schoolman!

Readership more than doubled in 2012, and I continue to appreciate the chance both to connect with new folks and to get to know more about friends and colleagues who stop by and comment (here or on Facebook). In no particular order, here are the posts that generated the most interest in 2012 — check out what you might have missed, and feel free to nominate other favorites in the comments section:

Dakota Internees at Fort Snelling
Some of the Dakota interned at Fort Snelling – Minnesota Historical Society

• I don’t know if I do it all that well, but certainly one of the most appealing things about blogging is that it gives me a chance to talk about history with a wider audience than fellow scholars or college students. Even when the topic is well outside my area of expertise, as in the case of the U.S.-Dakota War, which marked (celebrated is most definitely not the right word) its 150th anniversary this year. (The most popular post of the year, in part because it was spotlighted by WordPress in its “Freshly Pressed” feature.) My lack of expertise about Charles Dickens similarly did nothing to keep people from reading about the English living history site with the unlikely name of “Dickens World.”

• My blogging career began with a lengthy series thinking through the travel course on World War I that I’ll finally be starting this coming Thursday, and that awful war remained popular with readers. Two posts from my series on how WWI has been commemorated in western Europe cracked the year’s top 15: one on the theme “Lest we forget“; another on “post-Christian memory.” Also popular in this vein… a post on how military history museums like London’s Imperial War Museum and National Army Museum act as “cathedrals of the modern world.”

• As you’d expect from the blog’s title, posts about Pietism continued to resonate. Most popular was a guest post by my colleague Christian Collins Winn: his convocation address at Bethel University on civil discourse. Theologian-pastor John Piper’s claim that he was a “pietistic Calvinist” invited plenty of attention. (Incidentally, Piper was featured in Sunday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, as he prepared to retire from his position as senior pastor of the multi-campus Bethlehem Baptist Church.) Then lots of readers also checked out the podcasts we posted of the sessions at April’s Inaugural Bethel Colloquium on Pietism Studies. (Thanks to our keynote speaker, Scot McKnight, for posting a link on his blog!)

• I just finished writing an essay on the vocation of a Christian historian. You can find several of its themes previewed in a popular post on Frederick Buechner’s understanding of calling — stressing the voices of gladness and need. (It also borrowed heavily — title included — from Tracy McKenzie’s presidential address to the Conference on Faith and History.)

• This year I didn’t write quite as many posts in the devotional genre as in 2011, but one Easter post about the meaning of resurrection made the top 15 list for 2012.

• Education is the third of the blog’s stated themes… By far the most popular post on education was my somewhat sarcastic response to David Levy’s ridiculous Washington Post op-ed asking if college professors work hard enough. (I stand by every snarky word.) Also in this category… My three-part post on Christian colleges and social class came too late in the year to garner as many total page views as earlier posts, but it was easily the most popular series of the fall/early winter.

Usain Bolt in 2011
Usain Bolt at the 2011 World Championships – Creative Commons (Erik van Leeuwen)

• Then 2012 being a year divisible by four meant that I wrote about two topics that don’t normally get a lot of attention at The Pietist Schoolman. First, the Summer Olympics: posts asking which countries dominate which sports and how Olympic records in track and field and swimming have evolved over time were surprisingly popular. Second, politics and elections: the most popular guest post of the year was my colleague G.W. Carlson’s tribute to the late Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone on the 10th anniversary of his tragic death in a plane crash; and a post looking back at some recent history of how pundits handicap vice-presidential picks got lots of views in the week leading up to Election Night..

And then, in place of a Saturday links post, here are the links that I posted for other sites that were most clicked in the past year:

  1. How Badly Would Usain Bolt Destroy the Best Sprinter of 1896? (Slate)
  2. College Rankings 2012: Most Liberal Schools (The Daily Beast)
  3. Fundamentalism of the Left (Roger Olson)
  4. The Dakota War of 1862 (James Calvin Schaap)
  5. The Culture Wars are Real (John Fea)
  6. John Piper and Pietism (Roger Olson)
  7. Measuring the Melting Pot (Bloomberg)
  8. After Pietism (Scot McKnight)
  9. Do College Professors Work Hard Enough? (David C. Levy)
  10. Pietist theology for civil discourse (Brian Gumm)
  11. Lincoln and the Sioux (Disunion)
  12. Stick Figure Theology: Annie Vallotton (Fred Sanders)
  13. How Politics Enslave the Church (Efrem Smith)
  14. Jonathan Merritt, the SBC, and the Culture Wars: What’s Next? (Kyle Roberts)
  15. What should Protestants think about the Catholic sacrament of penance (confession)? (Chris Armstrong)

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