The Top Ten Articles on Navigating By Faith in 2021

The top three articles were all written in 2020 as the world hunkered down against COVID.

When I set out to begin writing in 2012, I did it because I believed the Holy Spirit was prompting me to use the gifts God gave me and to be diligent in using them. This was the blog I set up in response to that prompting. I didn’t focus on the number of people who followed or read the blog. I was simply being obedient.

Each year since then, though, I have taken stock of the number of readers and the articles that are being read on this site: Navigating By Faith. The numbers have not always increased each year over the previous year, but they have trended up since 2012.

In the 2nd year, I topped 1000. By 2018, I topped 10,000. The blog wasn’t viral, but it was being read. In 2019, I was plateaued at just over 10,000 article views, with slightly fewer views in 2019 than the year before.

The last two years have seen jumps in readership by approximately 10,000 each year: a total of 20,084 in 2020 and 30,749 in 2021. I attribute the big jump last year to COVID. Everyone was hunkering down; they had more time; and they were reading more. I am not sure why the additional jump this year.

Maybe we have been more reflective as a society as we have come face to face with a deadly pandemic and have had more time to reflect? Maybe I hit on some topics that are particularly poignant in the current flux of issues bombarding the Church in the United States.

I began writing two blogs in 2012: one aimed at the general seeker; and this one aimed more specifically at Christ seekers/followers. Over time, I fund myself most focusing on the latter audience. I don’t think I have posted more than one article on the first blog in over a year.

In 2021, three articles account for the 10,000 increase over last year, and each one seems fitting for “the times” we have been experiencing.

The first one,

Who Were the Sons of Issachar? And What Might They Mean for Us Today?,

(written in September 2020) seems to have struck a nerve.

The article It has 6606 views which is over 4000 more than the next most read article. It was the product of my own angst about the evangelical support for Donald Trump, questioning my own increasingly critical posture, and digging deep into Scripture for answers. Could I have been wrong about him? Why are so many Christians defending him?

Because it went “viral” (relatively speaking) on my blog, I wrote a summary of just that one article. It was written before the presidential election and the January 6th confirmation, but it continues to be the most read article on the blog on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You can read my retrospective of the article for the back story and my current assessment of the article.

The second most read article in 2021, with 1669 views, is:

God Meets Us Where We Are.

It is a kind of response to the existential angst of the Christ seeker/follower. It runs along the vein of Psalm 139. We can’t go anywhere that God is not with us. We don’t have to climb up to Him because He “climbs down” to us and meets us right where we are.

The third most read article tackles Critical Race Theory from a Christian Perspective (1226 views).

It summarizes the position of Monique Duson, who gravitated from CRT follower to CRT critic. She now sees CRT as a religion-like worldview that is heretical to and competes with Christian faith. That this article garnered much more attention than other articles I wrote about CRT is ironic.

I am not reflexively against CRT. I believe it has been coopted by people with anti-religious, even Marxist views of the world, but CRT isn’t (in itself) threatening to faith. What troubles me more than CRT is the effort the Church puts into beating up the CRT boogeyman while ignoring the underlying issues of racial injustice and racial disparity that continue to exist.

The top three articles were all written in 2020 as the world hunkered down against COVID. As the world hunkered down, racial tensions and angst rose up. Thus, I think, the reason why these articles got the most attention is easy to understand.

Those three articles, alone, account for over 10,000 views. They exceed al the views of the other articles that fill out the top ten combined. I will address each one and make some comments as I go.

Continue reading “The Top Ten Articles on Navigating By Faith in 2021”

The Top 10 Navigating by Faith Blog Posts in 2020

Who would have imagined what was in store for 2020 on January 1?

I summarize the year in review on the Navigating by Faith blog about this time every year by doing a top ten rundown of the most read articles. I will do the usual thing, though this has been, undoubtedly, an unusual year.

I appreciate the readers and those who left comments along the way. I hope I have provided some food for thought for those who have joined me on my journey of faith, some inspiration, some encouragement and maybe a challenge to consider things from different angles.

Who would have imagined what was in store for 2020 on January 1? The year began like any other, full of hope, renewed commitments and anticipation for better things ahead.

I renewed my commitment, for the second year, to read through the Bible from beginning to end. This time I would read it chronologically (using a plan in the YouVersion app). Those daily readings became the inspiration for many things I wrote in 2020, but current events commanded the most attention from readers of the Navigating by Faith blog.

Rumblings began to be heard sometime toward the end of January and into February coming from the east. They were things we had heard before: a new virus of uncertain origin. We’ve heard scary rumors of flu, Ebola and other viruses in the past, so I didn’t suspect this one would be different.

Neither did Donald Trump, apparently, to the consternation of a growing cry of the usual voices demanding that he “do something”. Trump shrugged them off. Many people, I believe, did the same because everything in the last four years had become a new reason to criticize Trump. Even people who don’t care for Trump were getting tired of it.

Patriotic cries of freedom mixed with knowing voices of concern and criticism of Trump’s nonchalance intensified as the northwest was hit with the first waves of the corona virus (now known as COVID 19). Governors began to step into the leadership vacuum with mixed reactions.

On March 16, 2020, the world where I live (Illinois) shut down in the midst of increasing confusion, warnings, consternation and angst. This was something new. Something that had not occurred in my lifetime.

Freedom, anger, fear and unbelief clashed as the pandemic hit our shores and spread. For many months, though, it seemed like more of a story from a distant shore…. unless you knew someone. Now at years end, most of us know someone who has had COVID, and many of us know people who have died from it.

In March, though, people struggled to come to grips with a government-ordered “lockdown”. Some people were incredulous. Others panicked. Some horded toilet paper. Others scoffed and protested.

Still reeling from the impact of a global pandemic, the world exploded in May when another black person died at the hands of police. The video of a white officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, ignoring pleas from onlookers to relent, triggered a national reaction of anger and protest.

The impact of those two things, the pandemic and racial unrest, can be seen in the articles and readership in 2020. Posts relating to current events make up four of the top five most-read articles and 60% of the top ten articles.

Readership also soared as the world shutdown. The blog generated more views in March 2020 than any month since 2012 when the blog began. Readership in every month (but one) since then has exceeded the readership in March. Five months set new records, with the most views occurring in November.

My friend who owns a record store says that 2020 will be up 10% over last year despite two and half months of being closed. I think the reason is the same as the reason for increase in readership of this blog: more people are spending more time at home reading and listening to music

The time we have been “given” is not necessarily a bad thing. We have an opportunity to reset priorities and refocus our lives on God, family and the important things in life.

When the world is safe to open back up, we will cherish people and community, live music and corporate worship. We need each other. We are meant for relationship with each other and our Creator. We will appreciate them all the more.

In the meantime, we wait for the New Year to bring long, cold months of isolation and longing. The spring thaw and summer warmth may never be more anticipated or welcome. I will continue to write, seeking God in the midst of our times. In the meantime, I look back over a year like no other in my lifetime.

Continue reading “The Top 10 Navigating by Faith Blog Posts in 2020”

The Top 10 Blog Posts on Navigating By Faith in 2019

Thank you, everyone who visited in 2019, and I hope you have a wonderful, faith-filled 2020.

I started writing Navigating by Faith at the end of 2012 after a stretch of some gentle nagging in my heart and mind. I believed then that writing is what God wanted me to do, so I set out to write.

By the statistics, I haven’t taken the Internet by storm. At just over 10,000 views the last two years, I haven’t gotten close to the views some people get on a single post or video, and this year is the first in which I had fewer views than the year before. Pretty humble numbers.

While I look at the numbers (who doesn’t), I don’t write for the numbers. It wasn’t my motivation in the beginning, and I am reminded often that I write simply because I feel God has prompted me to write. I don’t really know the reason. I trust God will do what He will with it. I’m not sure it is for me to know.

I struggle at times to write. I don’t feel particularly insightful much of the time. When I do have some nuanced ideas coursing through my mind, the act of getting those ideas through a keyboard out onto a screen often seems to result in the dissipation of them. I find the subtlest and most poignant ideas sometimes elude me as I try to capture them in print. Almost inevitably, the ideas I begin with morph as I try to get them out.

I try to listen to the Holy Spirit and be inspired and guided by Him. For this reason, I don’t often plan what I write. Almost never. My writing is an extension of the things I am reading, thinking about and very often praying about as I meditate on God and what He seems to be saying in my inner being.

As I look back at my first blog post (In the Beginning Was the Word), I am reminded the guiding principal that has been with me since the beginning is the idea that God’s word does not return to Him empty; it will accomplish that which He purposes, and it will succeed in the thing for which He sent it (from Isaiah 55:10-11).  I am not sure how often I am able to channel the Holy Spirit when I write, but my hope is that I sometimes do.

To the extent that I have been able to speak God’s word (not scripture, but prophetic utterance), I have done what I believe God has given for me to do. The rest is up to Him.

I find it easier to write “intellectual” pieces (rather than inspirational or creative pieces). I find it much more difficult to be creative. In fact, it’s downright work. Trying to string together a series of blog posts on one difficult subject is also work.

If anyone has read my blog over time and has any insight into which types of writings seem to be most effective for me, or resonate most with you as a reader, I would appreciate the insight. Constructive criticism is welcome.

With that said, here are the ten most viewed blog posts for 2019 at Navigating by Faith in descending order:

It’s interesting to me that the oldest blog article on the top ten list for 2019 was also the most viewed in 2019. The writing of the old hymn, It is well with My Soul, is a true story that obviously resonates. In a chaotic and troubled world, I guess we need to know that God can be our rock that protects us from the wind and waves.

I am not surprised that an article on Donald Trump is in the top ten (second in fact). I don’t relish writing about him (or about politics for that matter). As Christians, I believe we are to respect the authorities in place, but we shouldn’t idolize them. No one has divided the world, the United States and the Church like Donald Trump.

I spend a lot of my time on the intellectual bases of faith. At least four top ten articles fall in this category. At number 3, an article on the earliest creeds tracks the great work of Gary Habermas that shows how the first followers of Jesus began to spread the word that Jesus rose from the dead right from the beginning. Habermas shows in this way that the resurrection isn’t a legendary development that arose generations after Jesus died. The resurrection was communicated as if it were a fact from the beginning.

Two of the apologetic articles are on the same subject: the Ebla Tablets. These tablets are Sumerian writings that date to the 3rd Century BCE and confirm many people, places and things found in the biblical writings. The contribution of archaeology in proving the reliability of Scripture as historical writings can’t be overstated.

Meanwhile, reflections on the death of Stephen Hawking, inspired by the words of John Lennox, who knew him, also has an apologetic bent to it. I continue to find it intriguing that nonbelievers and believers are counted among the smartest people in the world. It tells us that faith makes sense even to some of the smartest people, but faith is accessible to anyone.

Three of the top ten blog posts in 2019 were also in the top five blog posts for each of the last four years: It Is Well with My Soul: The Story; the Ebla Tablets Confirm Biblical Accounts; and C.S. Lewis on Individualism, Equality and the Church. They also stand as the top three blog posts of the blog going back to the beginning.

In fact, all of the top ten but two from the beginning are in the top ten for 2019. The exceptions are The Hobby Case Summarized (most views of which remain from the year it was published) and A Message in a Manger (maybe because I didn’t repost it in 2019 as I have in most years). They were ousted by Reflections on the Influence if Stephen Hawking and The Ebla Tablets Revisited in the 2019 top ten.

The top ten blog posts over the life of Navigating by Faith are as follows:

Thank you, everyone who has read this post looking back at 2019 and over the life of Navigating By Faith, and thank you everyone who has visited the blog, read the articles and posted comments. I appreciate the feedback. I hope you got something out of what I have done. Have a wonderful, faith-filled 2020.

WordPress Audience, Please Respond

Dude with duct tape

So I went to post on Facebook the article linked below that I wrote today and got this message:

Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.

Please read the article and let me know what you think about the Facebook message. You don’t have to like the article or agree with any of the ideas, opinions or conclusions that are expressed.

In fact, I would like to hear from those who don’t share my perspective of the world.

Whether you like the article or not, though, please respond and express your thoughts about the Facebook censorship. Thank you!

via God is the Fulfillment of the Desires He Built into Us

The Myth of Human Rationality

Rationality isn’t wholly missing from the human thinking process; it’s just that rationality isn’t always the driving factor

Ed Atkinson was recently interviewed with Austin Fischer by Justin Brierly on his podcast, Unbelievable, on the issue of doubt. (A Tale of Two Doubters) The personal story of both men involves their public dealings with doubt. One ended up on the unbelieving side of the faith divide, and the other on the believing side.

The point that intrigued me most about the discussion was when Ed Atkinson brought up Jonathan Haidt, who wrote a book called The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and ReligionOne of the topics Haidt addresses is what he calls “the rationalist delusion”, which Atkinson summarizes as a “wild overestimation of our rationality that was … birthed to us in the Enlightenment”.

Atkinson says, “We like to think of ourselves as very rational beings [who] very rationally work and think our way through the world sorting through the syllogisms and … coming to what is the correct answer.” The work that Haidt and others have done on the subject have debunked that view of ourselves. Atkinson says, “Our decision-making process really isn’t very rational.”

I have often thought about this very thing. When I look back on my own journey, I recall that I went off to college with a passionate desire to discover meaning and truth, believing it was attainable, and having a naïve confidence in the rationality of the human mind. What I found in college was a very mixed bag. Though my quest for meaning and truth never waned, my confidence in the rationality of the human mind was disappointed.

I came to distrust that confidence in myself and in others, especially in others whose confidence in their own rationality seemed unwavering. Elevated self-confidence often seems more like brute will than rationality.

Since that time I have been continually disappointed in the rationality (or lack thereof) of the human mind, especially in those who seem to have no doubt about their own rationality. That I am sometimes guilty of the same over-confidence only adds to my disappointment and angst.

As a lawyer whose vocation is getting at the truth through the presentation of the evidence on both sides of a matter to a neutral judge, I have had generous opportunity to test human rationality. What I have found (over and over again) is that human rationality is often affected by things that have little or nothing to do with reason.

Continue reading “The Myth of Human Rationality”