December 16, 2009

Blogrolls and Pigeon Holes

"My momma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes. Where they're going. Where they've been. I've worn lots of shoes..." - Forrest Gump

Let's be honest. What's the first thing you look for when visiting a new blog? Do you head straight for the main content by reading the latest post in its entirety? Or is it more important to 'size up' the author from his/her bio, affiliations, blogroll and other bell-whistle peripheries? If you're anything like me, the initial moments at an unfamiliar blog are focused on gathering enough data to make a theological/political diagnosis: conservative, liberal, moderate, libertarian, evangelical, mainline, ecumenical, academic, pastoral, missional, traditional, postmodern, Reformed, charismatic, emerging, egalitarian, complementarian etc.

This process of instinctive categorization smacks of superficial stereotyping, but is it really much different from scanning dust jacket bios at the bookstore or channel-surfing with a remote? Do snap judgments represent the height of consumeristic self-absorption or a practical necessity in the age of information? Who has the time to judge a book by anything besides its (back) cover? If Forrest Gump's human taxonomy theorem applies to the internet, you can tell a lot about a person these days by their Facebook profile, Amazon wishlist or bookmarked sites in their web browser. Even a seemingly innocuous blogroll can be a window into one's soul.

So if you're as interested in labeling me as I am in labeling you, here are some quick facts about the authors of my top 20 church and theology blogs:

- All of them are evangelical Protestants of one stripe or another.
- At least 13 have a graduate degree in theology or Biblical studies.
- At least 11 are egalitarians.
- At least 9 are under age 40.
- At least 7 are women or minorities.
- At least 7 released a new book in 2009.
- At least 6 are current pastors or church planters.
- At least 6 live in the Chicago area.
- At least 4 live on the West Coast.
- At least 4 have earned a Ph.d.
- At least 4 are complementarians.
- At least 4 are affiliated with Christianity Today in some way.
- At least 4 are affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church.
- At least 3 are Southern Baptists.
- At least 3 are TULIP Calvinists.
- At least 3 could be described as part of the emerging movement.
- As least 3 were born outside the United States.
- At least 2 are editors at book publishing houses.
- At least 2 are Presbyterians.
- At least 1 is Pentecostal.
- At least 1 is Anglican.

Have I sufficiently tipped my hand? Should I begin measuring the drapes for my pigeon hole? What does my blogroll tell you about me? What does your blogroll say about you?


Rachel Held Evans said...

Dude, this is a brilliant way to get people to notice your blogroll...and jump from their Reader to the blog itself. (Worked for me!)

I'm totally going to steal this idea from you...and give you credit for it! :-)

Oh, and it's an honor to be on the blogroll.

The Common Loon said...

Thanks Rachel for stopping by. I'm looking forward to reading your new book in 2010.