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Happy Birthday to . . . Still Not Jesus . . . But My Blog

By Mark D. Roberts | Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My blog just celebrated its fifth birthday. My very first blog post appeared on December 22, 2003, at 3:42 p.m. It was called: “Review: The Da Vinci Code is Truly Fictional” and contained 483 words. There’s a bit of irony here, as my long-time blog readers know, because, later on, I put up well over 100,000 words debunking the “historical” claims of The DaVinci Code. But, when I started blogging I was a bit more concise. No doubt some of you wish I had maintained the discipline of brevity. (Photo: My very first blog post.)

As many of you know already, I got into blogging at the urging of Hugh Hewitt. He had been bugging me about starting a blog for many months before we had dinner in early December of 2003. Over Italian food, Hugh started in again about how important it was for the blogosphere to have voices like mine in it (Christian, evangelical, reasonably sane). He shot down my excuses for not starting a blog, though he did offer a sage warning: “Blogging is a harsh mistress.” Translation: If you start and take it seriously, blogging will require time, energy, and lots of commitment. No kidding! In the past five years, I figure I’ve spent around 2,000 hours blogging–that’s 250 8-hour days.

From the beginning, my blog was an avenue for pastoral communication. I talked about the issues I would like to talk about with my own congregation, if I had the time. I reserved the right, however, to interrupt a serious conversation with silly or fun or personal items. No doubt you’ve seen plenty of this if you’ve visited my blog a few times. For example: “Practical Christian Living and Potty Talk,” or my ongoing series reporting on the police blotter from the Boerne Star.

One of the  unusual features of my blog is the proliferation of series-length essays. Most bloggers write posts that are relatively short, and they don’t often link them together in a connected essay. But I found myself wanting to say things that just didn’t fit in 250 or even 1,000 words. So I developed the blog series. Because I was working in HTML, rather than using a blog engine (Blogger, Typepad, etc.), my series could be formatted so you could read it in chronological/logical order, rather than upside down, as is typical for blog categories. Some of my longest blog series ended up the size of a typical non-fiction book. In fact, one of them became a non-fiction book. Are the New Testament Gospels Reliable? became the book Can We Trust the Gospels?. (A few of my harshest critics think this is more of a fiction book, actually. But we’ll leave this for another day.)

For more than three years, I did my blog “by hand” with Dreamweaver/HTML. This gave me lots of power in formatting and design, but it meant my blog lacked the automation that makes blogging easy and that allows for convenient commenting, archiving, etc. Finally, in April 2007, I embedded a Wordpress blog engine into my website. This allowed me to do things like put up posts at one time that would become visible later, thus buying me a day off every now and then. For example, my blog will have a new post on Christmas, but I’ll put it up a few days earlier. Perhaps more importantly, using Wordpress enabled my readers to add comments with relative ease. My blog became more of a conversation and less of a lecture. I’ll have more to say about this in a few days.

I must admit that I’ve been amazed by the impact of my blog. On December 23, 2003, the day of my blog’s birth, it received 44 visitors who looked at a total of 174 pages. That felt like a good start to me. At least somebody besides my mother actually visited my blog! By the end of this year, my blog will have had well over 3,000,000 total visitors. In the last year, the 1,000,000 plus people who visited looked at more than 3,500,000 pages. I marvel at the power of the Internet to foster communication throughout the world.

From the beginning, I wanted to blog responsibly, to speak with as much clarity and truth as I could muster. Whether I have fulfilled this commitment, I leave it to my readers to judge. But I continue to feel a great responsibility in my blogging. I do indeed want to be a trustworthy, gracious, Christian voice in the blogosphere, much as Hugh Hewitt once envisioned. I try to treat all people with respect, including those I’m critiquing or those who critique me. In my opinion, the lasting thing the world world needs is more harshness, more stridency, more narrowmindedness, more unwillingness to listen thoughtfully to others. In my blog I try to follow Jesus’ simple advice: Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Not as my young brother once said: Do unto others as you would like to do unto them.)

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, or even an occasional visitor, I want to thank you for your faithfulness and encouragement. I can’t tell you how many times I have wondered whether my blogging effort was worthwhile, only to receive a note from someone thanking me for something I had written. Oh, to be sure, there have been other kinds of notes as well, from people who’d prefer that I stop blogging. A few seem to wish that I’d drop off the face of the earth. But the vast majority of readers who communicate with me, either through email or comments, have kept me going. This includes, by the way, those who have disagreed with me. Their questions and challenges have sharpened my thinking and sometimes helped to change my mind.

Thus, blogging has been more than a way for me to express myself. It has given me an opportunity to grow in my thinking and, in the process, to develop new relationships. Most of all, I hope that, through blogging, I’ve been able to make the world a little better place.

Topics: Blogging |

12 Responses to “Happy Birthday to . . . Still Not Jesus . . . But My Blog”

  1. RevK Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 2:54 am

    Mark, You are a gifted saint! I so value your voice that I frequent your blog every week. Thank you for being all the things that I like and for challenging me in all the areas that should be challenged! Congratulations!

  2. John C Key Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Mark, I don’t thinK I knew that your blog had a Christmastime origin, but it truly is a Christmas gift of major proportion to us regular readers…it is one of the handful of sites I read daily without fail–including Hugh’s!

    Your chosen role as “Pastor and blogger” really enables you to extend your personal ministry to all of us and I give thanks for that ministry every day. I take joy in recommending your site to others.

    I’m glad you are enjoying life with us here in the Hill Country. May you and your family and all of your ministries be blessed here at Christmas and in the coming year!

  3. Thomas Buck Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Dear Rev. Roberts:

    Happy Anniversary, and many happy returns!

    I came upon your blog in June of ‘04, and have read it nearly every day since. I was, frankly, looking for another Mark Roberts online, and ran into your blog.

    It was fortuitous for me. Your steady, Christ-centered posts helped me get through a time when I was considering leaving one church, and was “shopping” for another.

    The stuff you’ve written regarding the Da Vinci Code, the reliability of the Gospels (got the book!), your attitude of kindness toward those with whom you disagree have all changed my life for the better.

    I even enjoy those few times when your frustration with your fellow Christians and the situations they (we) manage to create comes through in your writing. Reminds me that you, too, are human.

    Many blessings to you and your family! May the Lord continue to live in your life as the shining sun!


  4. Ray Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 7:47 am

    I think I first ran across your blog through a link, either on a presbytery or PCUSA’s web site. This was during all the chatter right after the last GA. Upon reading the discussion thread I realized that you had some very rational things to say, but more importantly, your readers also did - and they were definitely not all lock-step in line with you. I bookmarked your site and read it often. In fact, a few of the ideas floating around your blog have become serious discussion topics with at least one session!

    I especially enjoy the topical series, particularly those dealing with theological issues or current controversies in the church. I find that I can come here for reasoned, well-intentioned commentary by you and your readers. Your blog has become part of the mix of prayer, scripture, reading and personal conversations that help me sort through my own thinking.

    God has called you to a unique role. Thanks for stepping up to the challenge.

  5. Mel Krewall Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Congratulations on your milestone. I consider your blog mandatory daily reading for this Texas Baptist. I appreciate your relevant, reasoned, and faith-affirming posts a great deal. Thanks and here’s wishing you another great five years.

  6. Quotidian Grace Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Happy Blogversary and may there be many more! You are indeed a sane, gracious evangelical voice. We’re glad you moved to Texas,too.

  7. Chris Datilo Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Mark, Thank you for your years of faithful, gracious and informative blogging. I came to your blog looking for conservative voices in the PCUSA (I am now PCA) many years ago, and have stayed with you. I silently cheer you on as blog confessionally and Biblically. Merry Christmas and a BIG thank you!

  8. Allan Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 10:08 am


    Thanks for your great blog. I’m a long-time reader of your blog and love it. Your blog and daily devotions at the “High Calling..” have been particularly inspirational to me. I appreciate the time that you have committed to your writing and look forward to future posts.

  9. Kozak Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 10:38 am

    You’ve been a voice of theological sanity for one adrift in the ELCA’s sea of relativism.

  10. Joe Arnett Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 11:18 am

    I picked up your blog link from Beliefnet a few years ago and now look forward to reading it every day. I can say amen to most of the comments already made so I will be brief. Your words have been a great blessing to me. Please be encouraged to keep up the good work. I want to thank Hugh for his efforts to get you to start the blog. I hope to attend one of the conferences at Laity Lodge next year.
    Best Wishes for a Joyous Christmas.

  11. ginevra Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 11:27 am

    happy blogiversary! :)

  12. Bill Goff Says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I want to add my word of appreciation for your wonderful blog. It has been stimulating and challenging interacting with you and your readers. I am especially grateful that agreement with your opinions is not the price of your friendship.
    I wish you and yours an Awesome Advent, Cheery Christmas, and a Nice New Year!


Thanks for your willingness to make a comment. Note: I do not moderate comments before they are posted, though they are automatically screened for profanities, spam, etc., and sometimes the screening program holds comments for moderation even though they're not offensive. I encourage open dialogue and serious disagreement, and am always willing to learn from my mistakes. I will not delete comments unless they are extraordinarily rude or irrelevant to the topic at hand. You do need to login in order to make a comment, because this cuts down on spam. You are free to use a nickname if you wish. Finally, I will eventually read all comments, but I don't have the time to respond to them on a consistent basis because I've got a few other demands on my time, like my "day job," my family, sleep, etc.

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