On Missing the Memes

On Missing the Memes July 19, 2012

As I wrote recently, I’ve been a bit down recently. Part of the consequence of that is that I just can’t keep up with all of the inputs in my life. I can’t both read and write, for instance. Another consequence is that big blogging memes have passed me by.

I’ll admit, it’s hard to see Rachel and Scot and Fred weigh in on Ross Douthat’s ignorance about liberal Christianity, John Piper’s latest idiocy, and the recent offense by a “complementarian.” Hard because they get big traffic and tons of comments. These topics are red meat for you, dear readers. And they are for me, too.

But I cannot always keep up. I cannot always weigh in on the breaking news in the theological world.

I don’t want to be a bloggy ambulance chaser, taking every chance to drop the names Piper, Driscoll, and Bell, even though when I do my traffic spikes.*

So I’m going to keep at it. I’m not going to beat myself up when I miss a meme. I’m going to keep blogging every day — sometimes about Piper, but more often about God and prayer and theology.

And, while I’m on the topic, I’d love your ideas on themes you’d like to see explored here.

*Hear me well: I’m not accusing Rachel, Scot, and Fred of being ambulance chasers. In fact, I think the three of them are anything but. I actually think each of them is a better person than I, and I’m guessing that they don’t struggle with the temptation to blog about Piper, Driscoll just for the pageviews.

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  • Tony, I read most of your posts. I follow you on twitter because I’m interested in general in hearing what you have to say. Like probably all of your other readers, I don’t see eye-to-eye with you on everything, but I’m absolutely fascinated by what you have to say. Give yourself credit. There are people who read your blogs not because of the names IN the blog, but the name at the top: Yours.

    • toddh


  • Hey, I just wanted to say thanks. I really enjoy your stuff. I love your honesty. Keep at it.

  • Luke Allison


    I love it when you do theology. So please keep doing that. And lots of it. Also, any interaction with the Scripture like you engaged in for A Better Atonement would be awesome. Controversies are fun and all, but hearing a progressive populist theologian like yourself think through issues is more so.

  • Tanya

    More people are going to read Anne Lamott then Jurgen Moltmann. Calvin and Hobbes than Calvin for that matter. (Wonder if John C. is jealous?) They are all geniuses and each have their place. I just get that its harder to make a living if hundreds of thousands of people aren’t reading and following you, buying your books and attending your speaking engagements. But perhaps it helps to know that most people’s beer budgets are greater than all the literature they read, combined.

  • I’ve been pondering lately about the blessings and curses of social media. When you are up, the ways to share your positive *whatever* (book, blog, conference, event, job, etc) are greater than at any other point in history. But when you are down, you have to see everyone else’s positives at a time when you wouldn’t have had to before and you don’t really need to – for your own sanity.

    I’m also starting to feel, this year more than any other, this desperation that everyone else is thinking of the new thing before me and somehow I’ll fall behind. I suspect it indicates I need to take a serious sabbath from digital connections, but that’s hard to do when my very livelihood depends on it. I’m caught up in a new form of following the “Joneses” (no pun intended) – I may not be chasing a perfect yard, house and family in suburbia, but I still seek for my blog traffic to be as great as the next guys.

    Thanks, as always, for being honest with us to allow us to explore this with you. It helps us all.

  • Dan

    I often feel this way, both from my own feelings and from my life in general. I simply don’t have time to keep up with everything (and I’m just starting out in the blogging world). Like others though, I greatly appreciate the topics you write on Tony and often find it refreshing to come here and read about prayer instead of Piper. Keep doing what you are doing, it’s a great blessing and much needed!

  • Evelyn

    It sounds like you are suffering from a bit of information overload (easily done with our information-saturated society) coupled with a bit of competitiveness. When you are writing, you have to shift your attention from being outward looking to being inward looking. Inward looking allows you to come to personal realizations and insights whereas outward looking allows you to mirror yourself against others. You may feel like you are “missing memes” but you are not actually missing anything besides chatter that doesn’t have a lot of bearing on your task at hand. As it is said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 – “That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.” Your current personal growth will strengthen your competitiveness when it comes time to reassert yourself on the blogosphere or, better yet, make you realize that your competitiveness is futile and perhaps you owe your success to the grace of God.

  • Themes to explore? Sure. Let us hear about you more. Do you have a sensitive side? What’s it like being a dad for you? What about life with your amazing new wife? Surely you have many personal-theological thoughts, observations, funny moments and opinions on these. No need to expose the privacy of folks in your life, but let us in on another side of you. We’re interested!

  • Hey Tony, I’ll borrow (and adapt) a line from Rob Bell as I completely agree with it: Who you aren’t isn’t fascinating. And what they are doing isn’t fascinating either. It’s just not interesting. Who you are… that’s a different story.

    And who you are is the reason I read this blog. While, Piper, Driscoll, et al may get some big hits, I, for one, no longer find it interesting. There are too many beautiful, powerful, moving stories in this world to focus on those.

    In short, keep doing what you’re doing. We love who you are and your take on the world, on life, and on spirituality. Keep at it!

  • Watching the canoes depart I get sad, too.

    What Luke Allison said; I follow yr blog looking for the theology posts, like the atonement stuff. I bought that book, and I even read most of it. Maybe it’s because I’m an Old Fart, but trimming up the Gospel Coalition … it has to be done, but not by me. How about taking us out on those canoes with some Creationism stuff? I’ll never be a DMin candidate, but I like to play one in my head sometimes.

    Do page views translate directly to money? Chasing money is a bad thing. Rather cultivate your garden, which also puts food on the table.

    • Yes, Marshall, the more pageviews I have, the more I get paid. That’s how it works for paid bloggers, except for those who sell their own ads.

  • Travis I.


    I would really enjoy hearing more of your thoughts on theological education. I thought that your posts about the Fuller DMin seminar were really inspiring and hit very close to home for me. Love to hear more about that.

  • More Tony Jones practical theology, less responding to stuff we know you disagree with. I want to learn from you, Tony, so please keep writing and thinking theologically. More “Better Atonement”-like stuff. I’m super-excited about your everyday spirituality series. I think that will be brilliant. I think that’s the ticket. I can’t wait to read that shit.

    • Ben

      Glad you are honest about what you can and cannot do. We love it!

  • I’m still reading pretty regularly, but posting less. Which is probably good for everyone because I was getting sucked in to the temptation to argue. You’re still my favorite theist and the variety is perfectly scattered across the spectrum.

    The most important theme of emerging Christianity, to me (who else would I be speaking for?), is bringing the focus of our efforts down to earth. As long as we see this world as a test or some sort of warm up for heaven, we will continue to neglect and damage this precious creation. I’m pretty sure God agrees with me on this. If you do more on that theme, then I’ll agree to fewer rants about inclusiveness.

  • T,

    I remain convinced that being a good/popular blogger does not equal being a faithful disciple, and that’s particularly true if you tend to be argumentative and a contrarian by nature. For those of us who don’t mind a robust argument, I think the most faithful thing we can often do is remain silent on the memes rather than stirring up all that negativity that brings us down and keeps us from growing more compassionate. All that to say, maybe you’re not failing as a blogger, friend. Maybe you’re becoming more faithful.