2014: That Was The Year That Was

2014 in sparkling lights
Creative Commons (Christmas Stock Images)

Thanks to everyone who visited The Pietist Schoolman this year! While I decided in June to move from a daily to thrice-weekly schedule — and then took a full month off as the academic year started, we still had nearly 10% more readers than last year, representing 174 countries! (Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, and North Korea remain tough nuts to crack, but we finally made some headway in the tough Cuban and Iranian markets: one view each this year!)

Before we enter 2015, a look back at some of our most popular posts and themes in 2014:

World Vision logo
In addition to the two-part interview with David, the World Vision story inspired a response from Rachel Held Evans that placed #11 on the most-clicked links list below

• Apparently, if I wanted my readers to read a post, it was best that I not write it! #1 on this year’s list was the first half of my interview with historian David King, about the strange case of World Vision USA first deciding to hire gay employees and then quickly changing its mind (#5 for part 2). Even though regular guest-blogger Jared Burkholder went on hiatus for the fall, three of his posts cracked the top 25: interviews with David Barton watchdog Warren Throckmorton (#4) and biblical scholar Brent Sandy (#13) and his own post on Moravian sexuality (#22). And frequent guest G.W. Carlson shared his Baptist church’s experiment with the stations of the cross (#2) and celebrated the life of Baptist geneticist Elving Anderson (#9).

• I managed to crack my own top five with a piece on “functional atheism” (#3), while my brief reflection on being an intellectual in an emotional church just missed (#6 – but the essay to which I responded topped the most-clicked links list below).

• I’m glad David King was willing to help me understand the World Vision story, since I wasn’t as confident in my own opinion as all the self-proclaimed prophets and apostles populating the Christian blogosphere (#12). As you’ll notice in the external links list below, sexuality was a popular, if divisive, topic this year — prompting my own reflection (#18) on the importance of evangelicals striving for unity.

IVP ad for our Pietism/higher ed book in the Fall 2014 issue of CCCU Advance
I promise, you’ll be sick of this image by the time I’m writing the 2015 year-in-review!

• Continuing an odd trend from last year… While posts about history are still generally popular, individual posts on historical topics don’t generate massive readership. The exceptions to the rule: my annual exercise in culling histories and biographies from year-end best-of lists (#8) and a post asking if the massive human catastrophe of World War I was actually as “pointless” as it’s often made out to be (#17 — glad to see that one WWI post made the cut in that war’s centenary).

• But Pietism still plays in Peoria. Posts on how Pietists would understand “Christ-centered higher education” (#7) and faith-learning integration (#19), why my denomination is composed of “missional Pietists” (#11, and a prior post on the Covenant Church’s identity was #21), and Bach and Pietism (#14 – by Chuck King, another guest-blogger!) found good-sized audiences.

• Also well read were the table of contents for our forthcoming book on Pietism and Christian higher education (#15) and a draft of its conclusion (#20). Have I mentioned that you can buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IVP itself, among other outlets?

By the way, I’ll have one more book preview posted on Friday. Start here if you missed the beginning of that series…

• Deaths inspired two of my own favorite posts: attending former Bethel first lady Nancy Lundquist‘s memorial service (#24) prompted a Lenten reflection on dust and beauty; and I tried to honor the memory of my cousin Mike a month after his death, on Veterans Day (#25).

• As always, the list is rounded out by an assortment of posts that don’t fit any particular pattern: my wife and me attempting to talk about spiritual disciplines with 4th graders (#10), my (un)forgettable turn playing Severus Snape in a Bethel-ized version of Harry Potter (#16), and my advice for American Christians who feel like they’re living in a “time of exile” (#23).

Then one more Top 25 list: the most-clicked links to blog posts and articles written this year.

  1. John Fea at CFH 2014
    John Fea (author of three stories making this list, and at least three more in the top 50) during our social media panel at this year’s meeting of the Conference on Faith and History

    Faith Involves Your Brain, Too (Bonnie Kristian, Relevant)

  2. Leading evangelical ethicist David Gushee is now pro-LGBT (Jonathan Merritt, RNS)
  3. How Are Christian Colleges Doing on the Diversity Scale? (John Fea, The Way of Improvement Leads Home)
  4. What’s Really At Stake in the “Christian America” Debate (Tracy McKenzie, Faith and History)
  5. 10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World (Alena Hall, Huffington Post)
  6. 4 reasons white people don’t talk about race (Between Worlds)
  7. Meet the 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time (T.A. Frail, Smithsonian Magazine)
  8. A Short History of Christian Matchmaking (Paul Putz, Religion & Politics)
  9. Should Religious Colleges Be Denied Accreditation? (Tracy McKenzie, Faith and History)
  10. Is “Christian College” an Oxymoron? (Steve Conn, Huffington Post)
  11. What now? (Rachel Held Evans)
  12. Who Am I? Reflections on Religious Pluralism (Janel Curry, Reflections on Place and Cross-Cultural Encounters)
  13. Community Renewal Society of Chicago Names New Director (Frederick H. Lowe, North Star News & Analysis)
  14. You Might Be An Evangelical If… (John Fea, The Way of Improvement Leads Home)
  15. Tony Campolo to Shutter the Evangelical Ministry He Started 40 Years Ago (Sarah Pulliam Bailey, RNS)
  16. Jimmy Carter and the demise of progressive evangelicalism (Randall Balmer, Then & Now)
  17. Who Studies What? Men, Women, and College Majors (Quoctrung Bui, NPR)
  18. Tagalog in California, Cherokee in Arkansas (Ben Blatt, Slate)
  19. Bruce Plays a Telecaster, Not a Stratocaster (John Fea, The Way of Improvement Leads Home)
  20. The Great Accreditation Farce (Peter Conn, Chronicle of Higher Education)
  21. How LGBT Students Are Changing Christian Colleges (Philip Francis and Mark Longhurst, The Atlantic)
  22. Is Atheism Irrational? (Gary Gutting, The Stone)
  23. Ham on Nye: Our Take (BioLogos)
  24. The Sewing Machine as Religious Technology (Kristine Wright, Juvenile Instructor)
  25. The Rise and Fall of the American Seminary (Tom Ehrich, God’s Politics)

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