A Big Change in My Writing Life

Yesterday I published the last of nearly 400 posts at The Anxious Bench, the group history blog at Patheos that I’ve edited since June 2016. After six years, I decided that it was time to step down from my role as AB’s “blogmeister” and main Tuesday writer.

I don’t have a lot to add to what I wrote at AB, except to underline two things. First, that I’m making this change entirely by my own choice, and not out of any grievance or controversy. Second, that I’m leaving Anxious Bench because I’ve realized that I need to redirect energy I’d been devoting to researching and writing for Patheos into (a) starting my next book and (b) blogging here at The Pietist Schoolman.

From the moment I received the invitation to join The Anxious Bench, I knew there would be consequences for the personal blog that I’d been keeping since 2011. At first, I tried to sustain my regular blogging pace at Pietist Schoolman, but it didn’t take long for things to slow down at this site. In the past year or two, this blog has really suffered, as I found myself channeling all my writing energy into The Anxious Bench, my Lindbergh biography, and projects like Following Jesus and our Bethel faculty devotional.

So I’m looking forward to reviving The Pietist Schoolman, which has played such a big role in my professional life and gives me much more freedom as a blogger: not just when to post (whenever!) but on a wider variety of topics than whatever constituted my version of the Anxious Bench motto of “the relevance of religious history today.”

But I’ll certainly miss being a part of The Anxious Bench. And not just because it was exciting to know that my posts had the potential to reach thousands, not hundreds, of readers. I’ll mostly miss the sense of being a member of a great team, which for ten years has collectively built an institution that models and enables thoughtful Christian engagement with history, faith, politics, and culture.

But the nice thing about helping to build an institution as part of a team is that its strengths will continue without me. So excited as I am to relaunch The Pietist Schoolman and work on my next book, I’m also looking forward to seeing how The Anxious Bench continues under the leadership of new blogmeister Joey Cochran.

Before I hand over control of AB’s analytics dashboard to Joey… Here are my ten most-read posts at The Anxious Bench, plus one personal favorite per year:

My Most Popular Posts at The Anxious Bench

  1. What the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Meant for American Churches (March 2020)
  2. Come, Lord Jesus, Be Our Guest(April 2017)
  3. About Martin Luther’s Letter on the Plague… (March 2020)
  4. The Sexuality Debate Dividing an Evangelical Denomination (June 2019)
  5. The Legacy of Rachel Held Evans (May 2019, with Beth Allison Barr and Kristin Kobes Du Mez)
  6. Queen Elizabeth, Billy Graham, and the Faith of The Crown (December 2017)
  7. I Do Not Owe “Total Allegiance” to America (January 2017)
  8. Why Beth Moore’s Letter Makes Me Hopeful (May 2018)
  9. A Brief History of Vacation Bible School (June 2017)
  10. A Letter to Christian Parents about Christian Colleges (January 2020)

Beyond that list… some of my favorite AB posts, year by year

2016: Adventures in Parenting as a Historian: The American Girl Books

2017: 5 Reasons Why Christians Should Study History

2018: Faithland: What’s the Most Highly Religious Part of America?

2019: When Baptists Were Radical

2020: What’s Lost with the Dying of the Mainline

2021: The American Christians Who Couldn’t Worship in Their Own Language

2022: Is Christian History Faithful, Hopeful, and Loving?