Baker Academic

Friday, October 12, 2012

How I changed my tune about blogs - Le Donne

Last year I had the pleasure of sitting on a book review panel with James McGrath at the Stone-Campbell Journal Conference. James, of course, writes one of the most well respected blogs in religious studies and I introduced him as such at this particular conference session. Tongue-in-cheek, I mentioned that James would likely blog about the conference in the next few days. A cheap laugh followed. James quickly pointed out that “the next few days” was almost an eternity in the blogging world; to say that he’d get to it in a “few days” revealed my lack of confidence in him as a blogger. On the contrary, it revealed my utter ignorance about blogging. As you will see, the last laugh is his.

I must admit that I associated a certain degree of triviality with blogs. And while my impression was probably not entirely misplaced, I knew all along that I was a hypocrite. I knew all too well that a good blog review for one of my books was a good thing. While I was grateful for internet praise, I wanted to pretend that I was “above it”. When I confessed my hypocrisy to Padre McGrath, he (probably tongue-in-check) suggested that I might do penance by starting a blog myself. The seed was planted I suppose.

What happened to me over the next few months has been oft discussed. Due to a controversy related to my Historical Jesus, my career took an odd turn. Due to a placement of my signature, I am not at liberty to say much in the way of specifics. What I can say is that my situation was helped by the online support of Larry Hurtado, Jim West, Pete Enns, Ben Witherington, Mark Goodacre, Michael Bird, James Crossley, Judy Redman, Brian LePort, Jared Calloway, James McGahey, Joel Watts, John Loftus, Chris Skinner, Brian Fulthorp, and many others.

How so?

A few colleagues of mine took a list of blog URLs (complete with estimated page hits) to my former employer and preached of the ills of becoming a pariah institution. While I cannot write about the conditions of my departure from Lincoln, Illinios, I can write that I was offered my job back. This happened shortly after the religious studies blogosphere had its say on the matter. Had it not been for the internet support I received, this simply wouldn’t have happened. I declined to return due to ideological differences, but the offer itself is significant.

You see, my story is not all that unique. We can all name half a dozen examples of individuals who find themselves in similar situations. Where my story differs is in the end result. At the end of the day, ideologically driven institutions (especially those dependent on tuition dollars) must answer to a wider constituency than previously assumed. So I know a bit more about the value of blogs than I previously assumed. I would like to offer my sincere apology and gratitude to James McGrath et al. for working tirelessly to create this network of colleagues.


  1. Is it too late to say welcome to the group? Also, bibliobloggers try to get together for dinner one evening at SBL. We also have our section.

  2. you're welcome. and in all seriousness, i'm going to link to this as well as send it to chris rollston, who really could use a word of encouragement about now.

    thanks, tony (if i may, and even if i mayn't) (is that a word?) and along with joel (who is in fact the antichrist) i too welcome you to our little virtually female-less family.... and that other person who blogs with you too whom i don't know and have never heard of but that's all beside the point right now isn't it...

    anyway, ;-)

    1. Of course, one should note the marvelous contributions of April DeConick and Judy Redman (both listed on the Jesus Blog blogroll).

  3. Replies
    1. This was my way of blaming you if the choice to blog ends up tanking my career.

  4. it is quite interesting - the power of dozens of keenly observant scholars can have with google alerts and a browser open while they revise their next article.

    likewise, it is encouraging that more scholars are blogging, and that more bloggers are taking an interest in the treatment (and alleged mistreatment) of their colleagues *as well as* their particular field of study. i find that when vigilant scholars focus on people as much as they focus on their particular disciplines, scholarship is better as a whole.

    otherwise, we'd be left with the unpleasant situation, which we often find in institutions of faith, where doctrine becomes more important than service, and the treatment of texts becomes more important than the treatment of colleagues...

  5. Anthony, I appreciate your honesty about your earlier "hypocrisy." I also find it gratifying that the rabble-rousing that took place in the blogosphere on your behalf had a tangible impact (even if you still found yourself in the position of rejecting LCU's job offer). I have quite enjoyed what you and Chris are doing here. Keep it up....and go Giants!