2020: That Was The Year That Was

Whatever else can be said of 2020, it’s been a busy twelve months for me as a writer. On top of publishing one book this year and writing a second, I wrote something like 225 blog posts: about two-thirds of them here, a couple dozen at our department blog, and the rest at The Anxious Bench, where two on Christian responses to earlier public health crises became that blog’s most-read posts in this year of COVID.

Here at The Pietist Schoolman, only two new posts found large audiences — and neither was all that pleasant to write. In April, a round of faculty position eliminations at Bethel some thoughts on the future of the Christian liberal arts. Then in September, I warned that Donald Trump might not accept the results of the presidential election. (See, historians can predict the future!)

But that’s not to say that I didn’t find new and old things to do at Pietist Schoolman, which will celebrate its 10th birthday (!) next June. More than ever, I enjoyed continuing my most venerable blogging tradition: curating links to other posts and articles every weekend. (#400 in that series will run sometime this spring.) And in the year that my Anxious Bench colleague Beth Allison Barr and I edited a Christian history devotional, I wrote three sets of daily devotions: one for Lent; one to keep me from obsessing about politics in October; and the Twelve Days of Christmas series that I’m currently running.

Then this was also a busy year for podcasting, as I recorded over 20 new episodes across three different series, most of them while sheltering in place last spring. (Look for one more special episode to drop for New Year’s.) In a year when I saw much less than usual of Bethel friends like Sam Mulberry, Chris Moore, and Amy Poppinga, it was good to have excuses to talk to them — and our listeners and guests — in that format.

It won’t take much to come true, but I do wish for you all a better New Year than the old one.


Top 20 Most-Read Blog Posts in 2020

(at both Pietist Schoolman and Anxious Bench)

  1. What the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Meant for American Churches
  2. About Martin Luther’s Letter on the Plague…
  3. A Letter to Christian Parents about Christian Colleges
  4. What’s Lost with the Dying of the Mainline
  5. “Nothing for your journey”: The Future of the Christian Liberal Arts
  6. 4 Things I Want My Students to Know about This Fall
  7. Of Norse Gods, White Supremacists, and Cultural Marxists
  8. A Democracy, If You Can Keep It
  9. It’s Not “Erasing History” to Remove Confederate Memorials
  10. Will Your (Christian) College Close?
  11. “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know”
  12. MLK, Mike Pence, and the Great Cloud of Witnesses
  13. The Disenfranchisement of the American People
  14. “Jesus Is Coming Soon”: Singing the Pandemic Blues
  15. Discovering an Evangelical Heritage… of Militant Masculinity
  16. Virtual Field Trips for Your Kids
  17. An Evangelical Understanding of Jews and Judaism (interview with Jay Phelan)
  18. Should Evangelicals Fast from Politics?
  19. A Tale of Two Evangelicalisms
  20. An Inadequate Response from One Minnesotan

Top 5 Most-Downloaded Podcasts of 2020

  1. The 252 Greg Jennings
  2. The 252 — Stadium Simulation Results
  3. The 252 — E-Sports
  4. The 252 — Rule Changes
  5. Pandemics and the Liberal Arts — History

Top 20 Most-Clicked Links in 2020

  1. Jonathan Merritt, “Mohler’s turn to Trump is the crowning flip-flop of his career(RNS)
  2. Bob Smietana, “Willow Creek Announces New Senior Pastor(RNS)
  3. Bob Smietana, “Megachurch pastor John Ortberg kept a family member’s attraction to children secret. Then his son blew the whistle(RNS)
  4. John Fea, “Liberty University Dumps Its Philosophy Department(The Way of Improvement Leads Home)
  5. Anemona Hartocollis, “After Coronavirus, Colleges Worry: Will Students Come Back?(New York Times)
  6. D.L. Mayfield, “How a Sean Feucht worship service convinced me I am no longer an evangelical(RNS)
  7. Eric Miller, “The Market Made Me Do It: The Scandal of the Evangelical College(Mere Orthodoxy)
  8. John Fea, “Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida Cuts the Positions of 34 Professors(The Way of Improvement Leads Home)
  9. Michael Gerson, “Abortion isn’t the only issue on the presidential ballot(Washington Post)
  10. John Piper, “Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin: Pondering the Implications of the 2020 Election(Desiring God)
  11. Robb Ryerse, “I Questioned the Sincerity of Donald Trump’s Pro-Life Stance. The Response From My Fellow Evangelicals Was Troubling(Time)
  12. Greta Anderson, “Azusa Pacific Cuts Football Team(Inside Higher Ed)
  13. Edward J. Maloney and Joshua Kim, “15 Fall Scenarios(Inside Higher Ed)
  14. Barton Gellman, “The Election That Could Break America(The Atlantic)
  15. Michael J. O’Loughlin, “Internal report finds that L’Arche founder Jean Vanier engaged in decades of sexual misconduct(America)
  16. Joel Halldorf, “A Tale of Two Evangelicalisms(Breaking Ground)
  17. Scott Jaschik, “Judson College Will Close If It Doesn’t Receive Gifts(Inside Higher Ed)
  18. Michael Gerson, “It is difficult for pro-lifers to vote Democrat. But it’s better than Trump(Washington Post)
  19. Ruth Graham, “‘A Weight Has Been Lifted Off My Shoulders’(Slate)
  20. Jemar Tisby, “In the wake of yet more anti-Black violence: We must ‘fight the freeze’(RNS)