*The Washington Post* Piece on Rod Dreher

Dreher

Washington Post writer Karen Heller went down to Baton Rouge to visit conservative blogger and cultural critic Rod Dreher, the author of The Benedict Option and other books.

Here is a taste of her piece: “Rod Dreher is the combative, oversharing blogger who speaks for today’s beleaguered Christians“:

Rod Dreher’s life is an open book. Several, actually. “The Little Way of Ruthie Leming,” about his late sister. “How Dante Can Save Your Life,” about his love of the Italian poet. His latest, “The Benedict Option,” is a call to beleaguered Christians to divorce themselves from the increasingly secular American mainstream.

But really, every work by this conservative Christian writer is a literary act of confession, a quest for purpose and a purge of disillusionment. An influential and prolific blogger for the American Conservative — he averages 1.3 million monthly page views on his blog — Dreher is credited with helping introduce J.D. Vance of “Hillbilly Elegy” to a larger audience. He founded the “crunchy con” ideology — another book, back in 2006 — wedding cultural and moral conservatism with an organic, co-op-and-Birkenstock lifestyle.

He is, however, no supporter of President Trump.

“I’m a social and cultural conservative, and I think Trump is a disaster,” says Dreher, 50. Asked why, he spits back, “Because of his incompetence, his recklessness and his malice. Plus, he is destroying conservatism as a credible public philosophy. The conservative movement needed serious reform, but this is annihilation.”

Read the rest here.  1.3 million page views a month?  Wow!  If all goes well The Way of Improvement Leads Home will have 2 million page views this year!  Here’s hoping that Rod reads this and give us a shout-out at his blog.  🙂

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

  1. A Tale of Two Evangelical Churches
  2. Do I Really Need to Introduce This Guy?
  3. Court Evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr. Backs Steven Bannon Effort to Oust “Fake Republicans”
  4. Senator Ben Sasse Has a Message for Court Evangelical Robert Jeffress
  5. Can the Museum of the Bible Avoid Controversy?
  6. What Should We Make of Karl Barth’s Adultery?
  7. Gerson: Trump Broke Conservatism
  8. Thank You Tom Hanks!
  9. Alan Jacobs Talks to The Atlantic About Thinking, Conspiracy Theories, and the Nashville Statement (among other things)
  10. Can “Evangelical” Be Saved?

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

  1. Under Contract: “Evangelicals in the Age of Trump: Fear, Power, and Nostalgia”
  2. Scot McKnight: “Bury the Word ‘Evangelical'”
  3. Gerson: “For many years, leaders of the religious right exactly conformed Christian social teaching to the contours of Fox News…”
  4. The Origins of “Judeo-Christian Values”
  5. Call for Papers: Conference on Faith and History Biennial Meeting
  6. What Does Donald trump REALLY Think About Evangelicals?
  7.  James K.A. Smith: “Christmas IS Political”
  8.  How Did African Americans Remember the Civil War?
  9.  The Author’s Corner with Gordon Wood
  10.  1977

Is Social Media Scholarship?

Olaf

Yesterday I was in Northfield, Minnesota where I gave a talk about blogging, The Way of Improvement Leads Home (the blog), and the relationship between social media and civic engagement.  I spoke as part of a series on digital publishing sponsored by faculty and staff from Carleton College and St. Olaf College.  (Thanks to the DeAne Lagerquist for the invitation!)

During our conversation several professors talked to me about the possibility of starting their own blogs.

I don’t pretend to believe that our blogging model at The Way of Improvement Leads Home is normative.  We post a lot here and have developed a unique approach.  So yesterday I tried to suggest some ways that busy academics might make blogging work for them as teachers and scholars.

One model for academic blogging comes from Mark Carrigan in his recent Chronicle of Higher Education piece, “Social Media is Scholarship.”  It is excellent.

Here is a taste:

Before I created a research blog, I used to carry a series of ornate notebooks in which to record my ideas, reflect on what I had read, and sketch out my plans — or rather I tried to carry them. Inevitably I forgot them at the most inopportune moments, reducing me to scribbling notes on scraps of paper, only to fail to transcribe them at a later date. Even when I managed to record my notes, my overly-enthusiastic scrawls often proved indecipherable when I came back to them.

In contrast, my research blog is accessible to me wherever I have a mobile phone or computer. The expectation that others might read my notes forces me to work out what I am trying to say, rather than scribbling down in shorthand ideas that might feel meaningful to me at the time but are often confusing later.

Sharing those blog posts through my social-media feeds often leads to useful conversations — at a much earlier stage in the research process than would otherwise be the case. It creates an awareness of what I’m working on, and has often been the first step in eventual invitations to speak or collaborate. The fact that I can categorize and tag my online notes helps me see connections between different projects I am working on, highlighting emerging themes and deepening my understanding of how the topics fit together. Having my notes online also makes them extremely easy to search, providing a fantastic resource when I am writing papers and chapters.

My point is not that everyone should use a research blog. There are many reasons why it might not be suitable for you: (1) Without a smartphone, a blog would be much less useful; (2) some people find that writing by hand actually helps, rather than hinders, the creative process; and (3) many academics are uncomfortable with sharing work-in-progress online with an unknown audience.

Exactly which technology works for which person will depend on many factors. But in my case, moving from a research notebook to a research blog helped me become a more efficient and effective scholar. Rather than being an unwelcome drain, social media has helped me use my time more effectively.

Read the entire piece here.

Heading to Northfield

Olaf

St. Olaf College

On Wednesday I will be in Northfield, Minnesota to give a few talks at St. Olaf College and Carleton College.  In the afternoon I will be speaking to faculty from both institutions on “Publication, Public Scholarship, and Blogging.” The talk is part of the “Future of Publishing” lecture series sponsored by the Saint Olaf and Carleton libraries.  I’m looking forward to it.

Learn more here.

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

  1. Do You Expect Me to Believe that Mike Pence Did Not Know the 49ers Would Kneel?
  2. #Evangelicals
  3. Southern Seminary Adopts the Nashville Statement
  4. A High School Student is Asking about Leopold von Ranke
  5. Why Mike Ditka Should Stick to Talking about Xs and Os
  6. The Los Angeles Review of Books Forum on the Protestant Reformation
  7. When a Church Raffles-Off AR-15 Rifles a Week after the Vegas Shooting
  8. Jennifer Rubin: “The evangelical defense of Donald Trump has taken on religious fervor immune to reason”
  9. John Oliver on Confederate Monuments
  10. American Historical Association Announces 2017 Prize-Winners

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home

  1. What a Historian Said to His Classes Today
  2. Court Evangelical Robert Jeffress on Evangelicals Who Oppose the Alt-Right
  3. Evangelicalism as a Mission Field for Evangelical Scholars
  4. Ta-Nehisi Coates and  Historians
  5. Princeton Evangelical Fellowship Changes Name to “Princeton Christian Fellowship”
  6. A Message for Pat Robertson: “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter (Matt. 12:36)
  7. A Christian College Won’t Compete Against Teams That “Disrespect” the Flag
  8. Once Again, the Court Evangelical Silence is Deafening
  9. The Author’s Corner with Donald Mathews
  10. The Real History of the Second Amendment

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

  1. Evangelicalism as a Mission Field for Evangelical Scholars
  2. Seminary and the “Evangelical Mind”
  3. A Member of Ben Sasse’s Dissertation Committee Offers Him Some Advice
  4. Why Did Books & Culture Die?
  5. Is There an “Evangelical Mind?”
  6. Gerson: Trump is a “racial demagogue”
  7. Court Evangelical Robert Jeffress Has a Message for NFL Players
  8. Does the National Museum of African American History and Culture Need to “Get Religion?”
  9. The State of the Evangelical Mind: Opening Plenary
  10. Is There an Evangelical Faculty Lounge?

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home

  1. The New Fundamentalism
  2. The State of the Evangelical Mind Conference
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  4. Quote of the Day
  5. A Metric to Help Us Decide if a Monument Should Stay or Go
  6. Did These Headlines Come from Breitbart or a 1920s KKK Newspaper?
  7. When It Comes to Historical Thinking, the “Nation’s Report Card” is “Fool’s Gold”
  8. I Can’t Stop Watching!
  9. Was John Adams a Christian?
  10. Here Comes Mike Huckabee

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

  1. The Anti-DACA Evangelicals
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  5. A Court Evangelical Backs Trump’s DACA Decision
  6. Barack Obama Gave Donald Trump a Lesson in Historical Thinking
  7. What the Founding Fathers Read
  8. Where are the Court Evangelicals Tonight? (DACA)
  9. More From the Pietist Schoolman on the Nashville Statement
  10. Obama on Trump’s Decision to End DACA: “Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision and a moral question.”

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

  1. American Historical Association Issues Statement on Confederate Monuments
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  5. An Open Letter from Christian Scholars on Racism in America
  6. Making Sense of Joel Osteen
  7. Court Evangelical Jim Bakker:  If Trump Gets Impeached, Christians Must “Come Out of the Shadows”
  8. Eric Foner: Robert E. Lee’s “Legend” Needs to be “Retired”
  9. Historian: When it Comes to Monuments, “Nuance” and “Complexity” Connect Us All
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Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

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  4.  Court Evangelical: “We Were Sent Here To Take Over”
  5.  Who Said It:  Trump or Obama?
  6.  This Irresponsible Historical Thinking Has To Stop!
  7.  This is What a Court Evangelical Does…
  8.  The Founding Fathers Rejected School Choice
  9.  Jim Bakker: Don’t Mock God’s Prophets
  10.  Is the Gadsden Flag Racist?

 

The Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

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  3. No One in New York Yelled “You’re Erasing History” When the Statue of George III Was Torn Down in 1776
  4. Moral Clarity and Academic Virtues at Christian Colleges
  5. What Are the Court Evangelicals Saying Today?
  6. Call Me A Christian Nationalist: A Response to Darryl Hart
  7. One More Court Evangelical Checks In
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  9. How Did Your Church Respond To What Happened in Charlottesville?
  10. Trump Lawyer: “You cannot be against General Lee and be for George Washington”

 

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

TWOILH

The title of this post describes the blogging life.  I took a six-day blogging vacation and the number of visits to The Way of Improvement Leads Home dropped 900%.  Don’t get me wrong, I expected this.  It is quite normal.  No one wants to read a blog with no new content.  I am sure this happens to a lot of bloggers when they take time off.  It has certainly happened here before.  This is probably why Andrew Sullivan always had guest bloggers whenever he took vacations from The Dish.

But for whatever reason, this time around the precipitous decline in readership during my vacation hit me in a different way.  I began to think a little more about the “tyranny of the new.”  (I thought I coined this term, but a quick Google search proved me wrong). Bloggers are successful when they feed their audience on a regular basis.  A blog will fail quickly if it does not satisfy readers’ desire for new ideas, new opinions, and new information.  Readers are always asking “what have you done for me lately?”  I do the same thing when I read online content.

Perhaps it is time to think about writing things that are more permanent–things of better quality that are not written in a hurry to feed the machine.  Maybe I need to rethink how I blog or reconsider whether a blog remains the best venue for my ideas.

Or maybe I should just accept the fact that blog readers come and go.  Maybe I should be thankful that I have cultivated a core audience here.  Maybe I should continue to write and post for them without worrying too much about broadening the circle.

I’ll keep thinking.  I still enjoy the work so don’t expect any immediate changes.  And, as always, THANK YOU for reading!

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

  1. Court Evangelical: We Have “Unprecedented Access” to the Trump White House
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  4. The Trump White House Needs Another Lesson in Historical Thinking
  5. The “Court Evangelicals” at Washington Monthly
  6. Scaramucci is Good for America
  7. It’s Only a Matter of Time Before a Court Evangelical Says That a Political Candidate is Morally Unfit for Office
  8. More Founding Fathers
  9. Teachers are Starting to Receive Their Free Copies of The Essential Hamilton
  10. The Trump Cover-Up and the Fate of the Court Evangelicals

 

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home

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  5. Trump Evangelicals and Pickett’s Charge
  6. An Interview With Allen Guelzo
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  10. Thomas Fleming, RIP

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

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  3.  Robert Jeffress Responds to My Washington Post Piece
  4.  This May Be The Best Thing I Have Read On Trump
  5.  David Barton Can’t Let Go Of This John Adams Quote
  6.  What Did James Dobson Tell the National Association of Evangelicals When It Invited Bill Clinton to Its “Annual Event?”
  7.  “The State of the Evangelical Mind” Conference
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Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

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