This cartoon sums up how I've been feeling about what I've come to think of "the God Blog" of late. There are times when I feel like the vast majority of people visiting the blog are spammers or their sinister robotic minions. That feeling was reinforced for a while wen I had enabled email notifications of posted comments, which all seemed to boil down to viagra, porn, or cheap designer handbags. That depressing onslaught, plus a variety of time pressures, sketchy internet access, old computer issues, and frankly a certain amount of lethargy have conspired to make me want to chuck it and shut it down and just focus on my wargaming blog, which, frankly, can be more fun and more interactive.
When I am tempted to give in to this sentiment, I think of two emails I received late last year from readers of this blog. In a conversation with one reader, I was being rather whiny and complaining that this blog didn't seem to be having much of an impact. I got this back:"
Mike, to be fair - the God blog is never going to attract a huge number of hits. However, it does bring your sermons to a potential wider audience and I think that's important. Any fool can write with conviction, but you write with wit and fluency and power and that is too rare a thing to hide under a bushel."
You're always going to have to write sermons and I think the discipline of putting them up online forces you to do a good job because while the congregation may forget, the Internet is forever."
I needed to hear that. The rationale for this blog has always been, at least in part, homiletic. The "Padre" part of the title has always been my acknowledging that I am an Anglican priest, called to preach the good news of Christ. Over the last five years, the blog has allowed me to share messages and sermons, usually fleeting and ephemeral things given in small chapels, with a wider audience. Some Mad Padre readers have told me that they can't or don't attend worship, and find it helpful to read the sermons I post here. Preachers are often vain, egotistical beings, and I need to remind myself that it's not about me. Karl Barth taught that the preacher is one who simply points away from himself to the cross. Smart chap, that Barth. Non nobis domine, and all that.
The other bits included in the "Padre" part of the title reflect my profession as a military chaplain, my take on the military ethos and ethics, and related issues. The "Mad" part of the title has been a signal that I try to take all of the above with a healthy sense of humour. Most people regard Christians in general and clergy in particular as dour, cheerless individuals, whereas I have always found that being slightly mad in a good way allows relationships to start and dispells stereotypes. So that explains the bits about goats, cartoons, etc. Besides, "Mad Padre" is fun to say. However, even that motivation flags on occasion. Another reader sent me this comment at a time when I needed to hear it.
Thanks so much for your blogs, which I have really enjoyed. I very much like your wargaming blog but your other non-wargaming blog has been a real treasure trove of thought provoking material, stunning shots of the Canadian prairie and country and some super shots of regimental goats!
So whither Mad Padre? (I like saying the word "whither"). I will, as my British Army friends say, stag on. 2013 looks like an interesting year professionally, with a posting, a return to graduate school on the Army's dime to think about religion and culture, an increasingly complex military and geopolitical environment to think about, so that will all be on the agenda, with, I hope, a greater frequency of posts. And yes, there will be goats. So to you, whoever you are, visiting this blog for whatever reason, my thanks and blessings.