Right now is the seven anniversary of the weblog. My initial post (which I reposted a couple of days ago) appeared on April three, 2012. I never ever believed it would final this lengthy. I figured I would run out of points to say in about six months. Hasn’t occurred but! There’s so a lot fascinating material back in ancient Christianity, beginning with Jesus and the New Testament, and going on up by way of the subsequent 3 hundred years, that it appears inexhaustible. And readers have so lots of fascinating and vital inquiries, lots of of them that take quite a few posts just to answer (with out even acquiring into the weeds).
When I began the weblog I was genuinely not certain what it would be or turn out to be. In *principal* I knew what I had in thoughts. The concept was guided by two desiderata: (1) to disseminate scholarly information about the New Testament and early Christianity to a wider reading public of non-scholars, in terms that have been intelligent and sensible, but not overly technical or loaded with jargon or requiring comprehensive background information and facts and (two) by undertaking so raise funds for charity.
The complete concept of the weblog – recommended to me by a pal in a late-evening bar, as it turns out – was to figure out a way to use my uncommon (translate: weird) ability-set in a way that would advantage a person other than myself and fellow scholars. Most of us who turn out to be scholars do so for the reason that it is a passion we have to pursue (if we didn’t *have* to do it, we’d be crazy to attempt. It is way, way also a lot discomfort acquiring a PhD in a field like this.). In brief, it is about us.
And we create our scholarly articles and books for other individuals who share our passion and assume it is vital for the planet at huge. But hardly ever do we, as scholars, give a ton of believed to that planet at huge, except – this is a enormous exception – in our undergraduate classes, exactly where we pass along our information to 20 year olds who need to have to be educated in vital subject. But what about individuals who are no longer in college?
Some of us publish trade books for basic audiences, and for a lot of authors that is all about disseminating their information for the public excellent. For a lot of other individuals it is about fame and funds. For most, I suppose, it is a mixture of the two. So that is a advantage to the planet at huge. But in higher-level academic circles, that type of publishing is looked down upon – this will surprise a lot of readers – as “selling out,” and not becoming “serious,” and “sensationalizing,” and “being all about the funds and not about the scholarship,” and …. and lots of other adverse and minimizing points. No professor in a main analysis university who writes trade books for basic audiences is rewarded by her or his institution for undertaking so. Much more usually they are looked down upon. No way in the planet a book like that will aid for tenure, promotion, or salary. And lots of, lots of colleagues genuinely do type of smirk at it and assume you have offered up on something severe. Oh boy do they. “You’re just a popularizer.”
But some individuals do see the need to have to attain broader audiences, and I’d say it is a developing trend. Or possibly it is just that it is the element of the stream that I uncover myself usually (not usually) swimming in. And there are other trends all through society to make scholarship recognized to the wider public, most noticeably in venues such as the Excellent Courses, which, if you do not know about, you genuinely really should!
In any occasion, this pal of mine more than a glass of wine recommended that get started a weblog about the New Testament (he was a non-scholar, but deeply interested in reading and finding out) for interested regular folk (as opposed to abnormal scholars) and pointed out I could charge for it. I believed he was crazy. For a single factor, who would join? For yet another factor, I do not need to have the funds. I’d rather devote my time functioning on scholarship. But he pointed out that I could give the funds away to excellent causes.
That got me seriously to considering. Possibly I *could* do that. I’ve usually had a soft spot for charities assisting the poor and needy, the hungry, the homeless, the outcast. (I’m a single of these individuals who cannot think that *every person* does not have that soft spot.) And so I place the concept in the back of my thoughts and just about every now and then would assume about it, what it would entail, how a lot of my life it would take, how it could truly be pulled off. It took a couple of years just before I believed seriously about pursuing it.
As I recall it (this would be eight or nine years ago) Steven Ray, the computer system whiz, web page designer, and skilled administrator who has been with me from the starting and keeps this ball rolling on each the macro and micro level, contacted me out of the blue (he possibly had study a single of my books?) to see if I necessary any computer system / web page / social media help. I looked into his operate, decided to get started speaking to him about the possibilities of some type of weblog (or app or what ever) to raise funds for charity. He was gung ho. We worked it all out more than the course of months and months.
There have been all sorts of administrative headaches: I had to apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS, get a lawyer involved, draw up documents to make us official, and so on. and so on.
And then there was the difficulty of how to structure it: what to post on, at what level (not higher-level scholarly naturally but exactly where to pitch it?), with what tone (how to prevent World wide web rudeness and vitriol!), and how usually? I figured that if individuals have been paying, they necessary continual content material. And so I determined to make it five-six occasions a week, about a thousand words a post, on a variety of subjects more than Christianity’s initial 4 centuries. It is fairly a lot turned out that way. Now seven years later it is 5 occasions a week, roughly 1200 words a post.
My initial believed was that we could raise $20,000 a year immediately after we got established, and that seemed like a excellent target to me. But I wondered if I would want to sustain it for extra than a couple of years. It turns out that I no longer appear to have a selection!
So, the really, really excellent news. The weblog continues to develop. We have more than 7100 paying members. The income has grown steadily, massively beyond my original expectations, moving into what appear to me to be pretty whopping numbers. For the duration of this previous year (as of this morning) we raised and distributed $158,000 to charity. That is an boost of extra than 13% more than the year just before, 34% more than two years ago. Altogether, we have now raised and distributed more than $700,000. That is some severe funds. As an ambitious and driven fellow (I attempt to assume of this as a excellent factor, so lengthy as it is below manage), I continue to set larger and larger objectives. I’d like us to do even far better subsequent year.
The weblog appears really wholesome in just about every other way as effectively. Posts come out on a regular basis we get lots of comments I attempt to answer all the inquiries. More than the previous seven years I have created 2013 posts (this will be 2014) that is more than 5 and a half per week, every and just about every week. Haven’t missed a week but! And we have received from all of you, and posted, 80,459 comments! More than eleven thousand a year, 220 a week. Yikes. And developing
There’s a lot extra that can be stated, but that is fundamentally exactly where we are. A couple of final comments:
- If there are points we assume we can increase, *please* let us know, whether or not involving either content material, conception, lay-out, buyer service, something.
- We really a lot want to develop each in membership and income. Two techniques you can aid us out. We would appreciate each really, really a lot.
- If you are genuinely pleased with the weblog and want to show your appreciation, please contemplate generating a donation to the weblog. We have received donations from $five to $5000. We will take something you can give and will be forever thankful. None of the funds comes to me. It ALL goes to charity. But it is the cause I preserve this factor going, even although it consumes a chunk of my life that I could be devoting to other points I genuinely lengthy to do as effectively. But who can turn a back on all the excellent points connected with the weblog?? All donations, whether or not a single-time shots or set up as ongoing periodic contributions are really, really welcome.
- Also, please spread the word about the weblog. That does not price you a penny. There are lots and lots and lots of individuals who would be interested in joining, if they only knew about it. Inform any person who is potentially in that crowd: household members buddies neighbors members of your church synagogue or civic group your dentist, lawyer or plumber. And contemplate providing Present memberships (uncomplicated to do: just click the button on the homepage) to some of these.
In conclusion I’d like to thank Steven for his remarkable difficult operate and dedication to the weblog. It wouldn’t take place with out him. He is skilled, sensible, and savvy. And thanks to all of you as effectively. You are not just the paying members you are the raison d’être!