Much has been made in the last week while I was away about a list of the Top 200 Church Bloggers posted by Kent Shaffer. There is also a cover story done by Christianity Today about 50 Women to Watch coming to news stands near you.
And while I do care that Mr Shaffer’s list was 93% white males, I do not care that word of a woman was no where to be found. I honestly don’t care about ever making his list. I also don’t care if Christianity today decides I belong on their list of women to watch even if I do love me some Rachel Held Evans. I appreciate them attempting to celebrate female followers of Jesus who they feel are making an impact, but I personally don’t care if I ever meet the criteria to make their list. For me having a women’s list that is separate from the men’s list is just more of the “our church lets women lead” mentality that Kathy Escobar wrote about recently. This may lead you to ask what I would do if I were ever to make a list such as this one. One way to react is the way Rachel Held Evans did this week in her post Is Ambition a Sin? She explained:
I weighed in a few times myself, thinking that, as one of just three women who made it to the Top 100, no one could accuse me of sour grapes. I even offered some tips regarding search engine optimization, design, posting schedule, and so on, hoping they might help some women whose content is great, but whose blogs might be blipping just under the radar. If we don’t like the list, I reasoned, let’s work to change it!
I agree on the one hand, working to change it is all well and good but in the end there is no doubt this is Mr. Shaffer’s list and he is free to choose whomever he wishes to be on it and it is no skin off my nose if he only decided to include baptists or pastors or Chevy owners. I also understand, as he does, that his selection “approach is subjective and consequently flawed.”
So the question remains my lovelies, why don’t I care about making a “top Christian _______” list? The reason I don’t care has nothing to do with lack of ambition or feeling that it is unladylike to self-promote. On the contrary, I want to be an influential blogger period: Christian or not. I want to be the Mumford and Sons of blogging. I want my blog to be recognized because it is making the world a better and more beautiful place. I want it to be widely read because it connects on a deep level and maybe just maybe it reflects a spark of the divine and makes people long for more of that which calls us all to be better. This has never been about being influential with church people for me. This is about being influential with people. I believe with all my heart that God has given me words to speak that are worth hearing or I wouldn’t be here. This blog is and has always been about love; loving God and loving my neighbor; speaking out for freedom for the oppressed, and asking how we can see God’s kingdom come here and now in every corner of life. I want that message to go out to as many as humanly possible. And so…I write, because I have to, because I must, because I believe He wants me to or He wouldn’t have given me this heart, these words or this fracking awesome technology that allows us all to be more connected than ever.
Rachel Held Evans asked her readership how they felt about ambition yesterday and I am glad she asked. In Philippians 2 it says that we should “do nothing out of rivalry (some versions say selfish ambition) or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” It does not say, “Do nothing out of ambition,” but rather selfish ambition. That phrase implies that there is also unselfish ambition. Google defines ambition as:
- A strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.
- Desire and determination to achieve success.
I don’t know about you my lovelies, but that sounds like a good thing to me. As far as I can tell, I am supposed to love and reconcile as many as I can; I am attempting to achieve that through my writing (among many other avenues); Therefore, I continue to be determined and work hard to do what it takes to succeed, including promotion and branding to ensure that my blog is seen by as many people as possible. Make no mistake, no list can determine the value of what I do here on the blogosphere any more than being named employee of the month or father of the year makes it so. The value of Word of a Woman can only be determined by whether it stirs in you, my lovelies the desire to love God, to love your neighbor, to use your life, your talent and all you are to see the world made a better place.
One last thing…
Mr. Shaffer did publish a response to the female bloggers who objected about not being included called, Open Letter to Christian Women Blogs in which he attempted to explain the list at least in regards to the exclusion of more women’s blogs. Unfortunately, in my opinion he missed the point in his response post. I could go into all the details but that would be missing the point of my own post. I will just let you read it for yourselves and make your own decisions. I will however make one point. In her response post on the Her.meneutics site, Laura Ortberg Turner relays this discussion:
In an e-mail exchange with Shaffer, a Christianity Today editor inquired as to why Her.meneutics was not on the list. He responded in a way that is indicative of a false dichotomy between “church” and “ministry” within our larger church culture:
“It hasn’t been included because we’ve subjectively decided it doesn’t focus on ministry topics frequently enough. The value in our list (although flawed) is its relatively narrow scope of topical focus. You write good posts, but they tend to be focused more on sex, relationships, adoption, politics, etc. than they are on topics rooted in ministry.”
Mr. Shaffer, this is where you completely lose me. You said that Her.meneutics was not included because their posts “tend to be focused more on sex, relationships, adoption, politics, etc. rather “than they are on topics rooted in ministry.” Really? How are these not topics rooted in ministry? I know no human, male or female, who is not personally invested in relationships, sex, adoption and/or politics. I personally reject the notion that there are ministry and non ministry topics; that posts (or anything else) can be pigeonholed into exclusively secular or uniquely sacred. I would even go so far as to say that you cannot have a blog as a follower of Christ that isn’t about a ministry topic.
In the end however you view the lists, they are subject to the list makers and the criteria they set. So why worry about whether or not I am deemed worthy by Mr. Shaffer or Christianity Today or any other person or group of making their list? Seeing my blog on a list is not my ambition. Love and Liberty and Reconciliation…now those, those are my ambitions. If I happen to end up on some “top whatever list” some day, I will most likely file it away with my Miss Congeniality award from high school, my ADDY award and all my other atta’ girls. They’re nice and all, but in the end, they don’t mean much. What survives in the end isn’t the lists or the accolades but the love and I want to be known for as much of that as possible.