It’s become tradition for me to end the year with a look back at some favorite posts from the preceding year, and the end of 2009 should be no exception. Not only does it allow me to highlight some good content that others may have missed, it lets me reflect on the year just passed to outline some of the pertinent topics of conversation and what may (or may not) have changed over the last twelve months.
We started off in January with the launch of Missional Tribe, which was foretold here (and elsewhere) as The Missional Cat Emerges from the Bag, followed shortly after by the launch announcement, Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Missional Tribe is Open! Where we’re at now with it is that the spam volume has proved all but impossible to manage without an excessive amount of manual intervention. As a result, we’ve now shut down the ability for new members to register or create a blog without contacting an administrator. The seven instigators have not been able to be as deeply involved as was perhaps required and the community isn’t quite self-sustaining yet. We still believe that a community with this model is viable, but we’re considering how the Tribe site should evolve next.
Otherwise, I began the year with some good metaphor asking Where are the Doors to the Church? Once wasn’t enough, so that post also resulted in The Church Doors, Revisited. Allow me to say this is a crucial question for any church to grapple with if they have any concern for the spread of the gospel.
I found out in January that I had been accepted into the 9 Rules Network, which is quite a notable network and I’m proud to have been included, as I noted in 9rules: networks++. I closed out the month with Depression & Words of Hope and The Third Man Factor, reflecting on a book I wouldn’t read until the summer. I then cruised through February with “Absolved by Attendance” (an abandoned de facto standard) and into Lent with an idea about indulgences for Lenten Offsets?
February also saw a post On the Validity of Virtual Community, which continued to be a topic of discussion elsewhere throughout the year.
Into March, I offered Early Thoughts on a Missional Renaissance, from the title of Reggie McNeal’s book before getting into the Decline & Fall of the Evangelical Empire, a topic started by Michael Spencer. Shortly after, there was a thought or two on The History & Future of (Consumerist) Christian Theology, which shifted a bit of blame off of evangelicalism.
The War on Wisdom takes a look in part at potentially how legalism functions and thrives. This brings me up to April, when my April Fools’ post, Recommending & Monitoring CLB Changes, got me in trouble again.
For Easter, I wrote about The Holiness of “Place” and followed up with a look at the crucifixion through A Centurion’s-Eye View. The following week I joined a group trying to answer Hey, What’s the Good News™? I gave some virtual ink to Emerging Fractures & the Great Emergence. Finally in April, I was Grappling with the Story Arc of Scripture and considering a fall curriculum for the kids in our house church.
May and June were something of a transition period. In June, I ended my long-running series Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth with Hymns of My Youth #106: The Greatest Hymn Ever Written and launched a new series, Hymns from the Radio Dial with Streams of White Light into Darkened Corners, followed by the first selection, Radio Hymns #1: The Lord’s Prayer by Sister Janet Mead.
Of course, one of the most notable posts of the year just might have come at the end of June when I posted I’m Not a Monk, But I Play One on the Internet, in which I confirmed my non-pseudonymous identity.
Still this was overshadowed by my June 13th Urgent Prayer Request: Rick Meigs, in which we announced that Rick Meigs had been in a very serious (life-threatening) motorcycle accident. This was a significant event not only for Rick, but for some of us around him virtually who called Rick a friend, but were at a distance and could do little but pray and blog the updates. So that’s what we did. The process, I think I can say, taught us an unexpected lesson about virtual community… but more on that later.
Already in January (just after joining 9Rules), I noted in Watch out for Tumbleweeds that I was now allowing myself to let a day pass without a blog post, something I’d not really done since I began this blog. In March — Tiring, isn’t it? — there was a growing malaise around blogging in this particular conversational circle, and I was feeling it too. By early May, In Which I title my Post like Sarah Bessey Does, I revisited the idea that it was difficult to blog daily, and I was already skipping the odd day. By late May, it seemed that like many others, I was losing my Blogging Mojo. Many people identified with this feeling — not about me, but about themselves and their own blogging frequency. By August, the terminology I was using became Cessationist Bloggers, Or Something Quite Like It. By then I acknowledged that I was in the midst of a kind of blogging sabbatical, but that I had no plans for an exit. I thought I’d be back in the fall, but on November 30th I actually missed my 5th anniversary of blogging on this site. Of course, I’m still blogging once in a blue moon or more — which, incidentally, this is. Literally, as in today is literally a figurative “blue moon.” Still, blog posts for the remainder of 2009 were mainly collections of Random Acts of Linkage and the odd little update, like my Christian Bookstore Odd-essy and the Blessing of Hands or asides like Memorizeth thy Scripture.
And that brings us up to November and December, during which I began to feel the gentle tug to write more on this blog. Not the volume I’d been putting out up to the spring of 2009, but still.
November held The Great Emergence Postscript and Post-Great-Emergence, two posts on the one-day conference with Phyllis Tickle that was held here on Reformation Day. I and a few others participated in a panel discussion and gave “workshop” sessions. Phyllis was a riot.
Then there was Encountering Harry Potter, in which I riffed a little on my finally reading the Harry Potter series this year, and finding it much more enjoyable than I’d expected. Oh, and Lord Voldemort is an INTP, just like me. And Alan Hirsch.
I opened December by Considering The Didache in preparation for my interaction with a chapter from Tony Jones’ new book in The Didache: on Living Together in Community. I kept up a bit of blogging momentum (if you can call it that) with another riff on Compassion, Justice, and the Manhattan [Project] Declaration.
As the year winds up, I look back at the list of posts and topics and make just a few observations. First, the question of virtual community hasn’t gone away, and the debate has only intensified. I actually have quite a bit I want to say on the subject, and hopefully — keep your fingers crossed and your prayers ascending — I’ll spend a bit of time blogging on it in January.
The other notable point is a set of changes in what the emerging church is, how it’s defined, who’s a part of it, who still uses the term, and a plethora of other notes. Being the end of a decade, people are also tending to look farther back and farther ahead as well. On this topic, I’m saddened that within the emerging church, people who shared a pulpit at the beginning of the decade won’t share more than the time of day at the end of the decade. Though some of them will spend some time in criticism. You know who you are.
As I wrap up this look back at some of the notable posts around here this past year, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to resume blogging a little more in the new year, as I have a few larger topics that I want to explore. This might (I don’t know yet) mark a shift in tone here as I’m reading far fewer blogs and thus interacting on the topic-of-the-day a lot less. We’ll see what happens. As for the prognostications I really want to make, I’ve got a post percolating in the back of the grey matter that I plan to try and translate here soon.
That said, so long, 2009!