WHAT YOU READ (AND WHAT I WISH YOU HAD READ) IN 2014

I’m a statistics junkie, and I’ve spent some time this evening reviewing the readership figures for the various essays that I shared with you over the past year.  You might be interested in them as well, so here are the highlights.

The most widely read post on this blog during 2014 was actually something that I wrote in 2013.  My essay “Thoughts on The Light and the Glory” received more than twice as many hits as the second most popular essay of the year.  Peter Marshall Jr. and David Manuel began their fabulously popular “God’s Plan for America” trilogy nearly four decades ago, and their Christian interpretation of U.S. history has shown remarkable staying power.  If you know someone who has been influenced by their interpretation and might be open to being challenged, would you consider forwarding them the link to my essay?

Here are the five most popular essays of the past year that I actually posted in 2014:

1) “What’s Really at Stake in the “Christian America” Debate“–A lengthy critique of David Barton’s controversial (and horribly flawed) book The Jefferson Lies.  If someone you know places faith in Barton’s writings, please challenge him or her to consider “what is really at stake” in Barton’s misrepresentation of American history.

2) “Should Religious Colleges be Denied Accreditation?”–My response to a polemical piece by U Penn professor Peter Conn suggesting that Christian colleges, by definition, are “intellectually compromised” institutions that have no business being accredited as legitimate institutions of higher learning.  If you missed my take on Conn’s incoherent argument, here’s a second chance.

3) “Civil War Reenactments? I Think I’ll Pass“–A very different kind of essay sharing one Civil War historian’s reflections on the popular phenomenon of Civil War reenactments and what they actually teach about war.

4) “C.S. Lewis on ‘Cutting Down Jungles’ and Irrigating Deserts“–My thoughts on a powerful passage from Lewis’s The Abolition of Man on “the task of the modern educator.”

5) “Rush Limbaugh’s Revisionist Thanksgiving“–One of several essays I have posted on Limbaugh’s book Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, this one focusing on the book’s egregious misrepresentation of the First Thanksgiving.  If you know someone who assumes that Limbaugh’s children’s book series is reliable, please consider directing them to this essay.

FINALLY, I thought I would share with you my nomination for “Most Overlooked Essay of 2014,” or something to that effect.  If you or someone you care about has been dealing with depression or great suffering, please consider encouraging them to read my post “From my Commonplace Book: George Herbert on God’s Grace in the Midst of Suffering.”  The essay offers two potential blessings.  First, it contains a link to a marvelously encouraging message by Wheaton College president Philip Ryken titled “When Trouble Comes.”  Second, in the post you’ll become acquainted with an amazing poem (“Joseph’s Coat”) by 17th-century English poet George Herbert, no stranger to suffering himself.

May God bless you and yours in 2015.

4 responses to “WHAT YOU READ (AND WHAT I WISH YOU HAD READ) IN 2014

  1. That’s my philosophical ramblings for today. Excuse me whilst I step down from my soap box. 🙂

  2. I read your post on George Herbert and it makes me want to read more about him. It also reminds me of a conversation I had with my oldest daughter (22) about how we – in my church life for as long as I remember – organize our Sunday Schools by age. I told her that I wished we would mix up classes more and have teenagers, college, young adults, middle age and seniors in more classes together, even if it was just a temporary thing for the summer months or something.

    As you can imagine, her first comment/objection was going to be – if I hadn’t jumped in – something akin to different ages and different stages of life. I told her that really shouldn’t make any difference. As it is written, all the sin struggles in this world boil down to the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life”. We all go through the same battles with sin and the same types of suffering. Those struggles just take a different form depending on the time period in which we live. We don’t worry about the cholera in the next county over and whether or not it will devastate our community, but worry about cancer or about one of our children driving in those first few years when it is relatively hazardous for them.

    The senior may not have lived in a world of internet porn or TV lasciviousness like the youth of today, but that doesn’t mean those same temptations weren’t there for them. As you would argue that we shortchange our Christian lives by not engaging with the past and the lives of such people such as George Herbert, I think until we can engage with the past in the lives of people within our own churches and learn from them and see that their lives were not all that different than our own, it’s going to be a battle to get some momentum in the church to get the members to see the value of studying the past.

    Not to mention that by the very fact of the seniors living their “history”, when the young share their struggles or tell of their lives, those that have gone before them are presented with the opportunity to teach “history” to the youth….”others have gone before you and endured those struggles. Here is what we have learned about God’s faithfulness, here is the verse He gave me, let me share some wisdom God showed me…” And, “I’ve been through that” and they know how to pray for those that come behind them.

    As you’ve mentioned, we look for people like ourselves in the past, even within the confines of our church/spiritual lives, unless, seemingly, we happen to encounter them by happenstance.

  3. George K. McFarland

    Thank you for ALL the posts of this past year. I read every word and appreciate the time and effort you devote to this. I often share your posts with others, including my own history students. May our Lord continue to use and bless you! With appreciation, George McFarland

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