An Open Letter to Women Readers

Dear Friends,

Yesterday was a challenging and inspiring day for me. I had no idea that the question I posted would elicit such a passionate response. I’m glad it did. My primary feeling this morning is gratitude that so many of you responded with such heartfelt passion.

Some of your answers were hurtful. I was told that I am reminiscent of an abuser; my intellect was challenged; I was psychoanalyzed; and I was repeatedly called defensive. I don’t begrudge your right to post what you think of me. In fact, I am happy that you felt that you could be honest. If nothing else, I hope this blog is a place of honesty, both from me and from readers.

Other answers were affirming — women who read every day but don’t comment took the post as an opportunity to speak up about why they don’t. I am glad that post provided a space for your voices. And I hope those will be the first of many comments from you.

Almost all of the comments were helpful to me. I have read and re-read them (and they continue to come in today — in fact, I hope that you will keep commenting there). In fact, last night, Courtney helped me unplug for a couple hours. She had read all of the comments, too, and we spent some time talking about the post and the responses.

Several of you have corresponded with me privately — including women who wrote challenging comments — in support. I deeply appreciate that.

I think it would be premature for me list the ways that I will change my blogging as a result of your comments. But I think that I cannot help but change.

Among the themes that are emerging, one is that many women find my tone overly aggressive. This, of course, is not news to me. For the past 15 years, my “brand” has been about provocation and theological and cultural argumentation. If and how I should ameliorate my tone in order to welcome more readers without forsaking my current readers is something that I will consider — and continue to talk to Courtney about.

Another theme was, I hope, heard loud and clear by many of the men who regularly comment here: when a comment thread devolves into a pissing match, many women lose interest. We all want the conversation to be robust, but we also need to be aware of our pitch as we go forward.

Thanks again for all your comments. I will continue to read them and to consider them.

Your Friend,

Tony

P.S., I hope that some of you will contribute to the latest #progGOD Challenge. I tend to think that women’s voices are particularly important when considering the doctrine of the incarnation.

Where Are the Women?

A representative sample of this blog’s commenters.

I’ve noticed something over the past few days. Almost no women are commenting on this blog.

While it’s impossible to know for sure (because commenters can use whatever name or initials they like), by my count over the last week, only one out of sixteen comments comes from a woman.

That depresses me. So do the insights into those who’ve liked my Facebook page:

[Read more...]

Weekend Update

“Frank, you ignorant slut”

In case you were bloated with triptophan and missed it over the the weekend, here’s what happened on the blog:

I gave thanks for all of you readers:

Among the things for which I’m grateful is you, and I mean that quite sincerely. When I started blogging in 2004, it was a lonely enterprise. I was lonely — my early posts were composed in an empty apartment in Princeton, NJ. My family had left after my first year of coursework, and I commuted between Minneapolis and New Jersey. My desk in the apartment was a door propped up on two sawhorses. I slept on an air mattress. I blogged because I’d usually finished all my reading by dinnertime, and I didn’t have a TV. Like I say, it was a lonely enterprise.

I responded to Lausten’s Haunting Question:

In other words, the prelapsarian Garden of Eden was not an ideal Platonic Form. For God’s sake, it was a garden! It was full of dirt and worms and rotting fruit.

Here’s another way of saying that: nothing metaphysically happened when Adam and Eve ate that fruit. Nothing ontologically changed in them. They did not go, with one bite, from “perfect” to “imperfect.”

Some Christian prophecy dude praised my marketing while condemning my theology:

“Look, I lament the fact that Jones, Pagitt and friends are conning our young people with aberrant theology, but in terms of marketing worldview, they are light years ahead of conservative authors.”

And coming later today: “Who Is Rob Bell?”

You May Hate My Theology, But Just Look at My Marketing!

Jim Fletcher of “Prophecy Matter” pens an unintentionally hilarious column:

It’s always important, I think, to separate our sometimes-disdain for other writers whose ideas run counter to our own … from the tools they use to market themselves. In other words, learning from someone is more useful than ruminating over their existence in the writing field.

Witness the book tour efforts of “Emergent” writers and speakers Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones. Full disclosure: I can’t stand their “theology” (Jones for example has recently announced that he simply doesn’t believe in the doctrine of original sin), but the tools they employ to ply their worldview in the marketplace? Now that’s something we can internalize.

A recent item in Publishers Weekly underscores the innovation certain writers and their publishers have in separating their projects from the ocean of books being published: “Meanwhile, some Emergents are redefining the book tour. This summer Jossey-Bass authors and self-described ‘postmodern Emergent hipsters’ Mark Scandrette, Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt took to the highways in a biodiesel-powered RV on a 32-city, old-time ‘Church Basement Roadshow: A Rollin’ Gospel Revival.’ Says executive editor Sheryl Fullerton, ‘It was very Emergent, a complete reinvention of what a book tour is.’”

No kidding.

Look, I lament the fact that Jones, Pagitt and friends are conning our young people with aberrant theology, but in terms of marketing worldview, they are light years ahead of conservative authors.

Seriously, you should read the rest: Why your rivals sell more books.


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