On February 2nd, author and blogger Rachel Held Evans extended a challenge to the to the men who regularly read her blog: to write a post countering John Piper’s claim that “Christianity has a masculine feel.” As she wrote in her original post:
. . . it’s important for those who are advocating an exclusively masculine Christianity to see that not all men agree with them. It’s also important for those of us who have grown weary of being treated like second-class Kingdom citizens to be reminded of the fact that there are indeed many Christian men out there who support and celebrate women in the Church.
(This isn’t about egalitarianism or complementarianism, by the way. It’s about the basic value and dignity of God’s daughters. So please feel free to participate no matter your theological convictions regarding women in church leadership.)
I wrote my contribution, titled Mother, Bride, and Daughter, that weekend and published it on Monday, February 6th. I pasted a link in the comments thread of a post Rachel set up specifically for that purpose, and here was her response:
Loved this. Simple, yet beautiful. Short, yet grand in scope. Thank you!
Wow! That response alone, coming from a published author, was a great compliment, but the next day she extended me an even greater compliment. Rachel listed all of the responses, with excerpts from each, and my post was fourth. She included a link and cited a sizable portion—including this paragraph which she bolded:
I thought about all the women saints again, particularly those who are Doctors of the Church: St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and—following her scheduled canonization this October—Blessed Hildegard of Bingen. These women speak to the whole church, as do numerous others: saints, both proclaimed by the Church and known to God alone. There are plenty of sopranos and altos among the choirs of the blessed.
(The above image, of Our Lady of Mount Carmel surrounded by both male and female Carmelite saints, is one of countless devotional images created throughout the history of the Church that support my point.)
Rachel wasn’t the only one who liked my contribution. Thanks to her, my blog received more hits in one day than in an average week, and the post itself is by far my most popular to date. I am overjoyed that my writing has reached so many people.
This experience has taught me something about blogging as well—or maybe it’s reminded me of something I already knew deep down: interactivity is an essential aspect of this medium. Writers are solitary by nature. We toil in obscurity and send our work out to gatekeepers—be they agents or editors—who then disseminate it to readers whom we rarely encounter ourselves. Blogging encourages us to engage with our readers, who are often bloggers themselves, which is why it sits on that indistinct boundary between art and marketing.
During a presentation this week, I emphasized that blogging, guest blogging, Facebook, and article-writing were the best ways to promote yourself as a writer. I got “ughs” from most of the room. But blogging held the least interest. Nobody even asked, “What do I blog about?” which told me straight away that nobody cared to do it.
Blogging beats book signing and even personal presentations when it comes to numbers reached and word-of-mouth potential. A good blog post, and I mean one you poured your heart into, will be spread and bounced all over the place.
It also beats other forms of promotion because it’s writing: the very activity that we as writers are supposed to love the most. The only thing I don’t enjoy about blogging is the feeling that I always have to come up with new ideas, but that’s just another manifestation of the dreaded “blank page” that all writers experience. Once I have the idea, I love everything about writing; it doesn’t matter whether I’m working on a personal essay, an article, or a blogpost. So having both the subject matter and a big audience handed to me was a great opportunity.
I took it, and I will take it again. Thank you, Rachel.