Late last December, I decided to write a blog post in which I would communicate something of the frustration I was feeling in my relationship with the church and with Christian faith in general. It occurred to me, when I sat down to write, that I might be able to express myself more effectively if I created an alter ego and let him say the things I was feeling. Thus the idea for Arthur Lough was born.
When I wrote the post which I titled “Arthur Lough’s Crisis of Faith,” I expected it would be a one-time occurrence. It was fun to do, and it let me blow off a little steam in the third person. Then it seemed appropriate to do a follow-up post, and before you could say “fictional curmudgeon,” I was well into the series of eighteen (so far) posts which I have called “The Arthur Chronicles.”
Initial response to the “Arthur” format was strong and encouraging. Over the course of three months, however, that early interest has waned. It is clear that Arthur has generated a small band of devoted readers, but the blog’s overall readership has steadily declined since its high point in January, just after Arthur was introduced.
I understand that three months is probably too short a time frame in which to determine legitimate trends. Still, it is easy to observe that the Arthur posts seem to attract far fewer readers than other types of posts, notably the straightforward essays. WordPress, the platform I use for my blog, reports readership statistics on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The stats indicate the number of readers who view a particular post on any given day. Over the past few days, the stats report shows that readers of the post titled “Our Debt To St. Patrick” outnumber readers of either of the last two Arthur posts by nearly two to one.
That is why I have decided to give Arthur a bit of a rest. It is possible that the format was beginning to weary some readers. Some new readers, who came to the blog after the Arthur series began, may have decided that they don’t have time to read the earlier posts in the series and are therefore not inclined to join the thread in midstream. I’m not sure how to interpret the statistical data, but the numbers suggest that Arthur might be growing a bit stale for some readers.
I admit that I have a love-hate relationship with blogging. I love to write, and I have not found the experience of writing the blogposts to be at all burdensome. You would think that an introvert with some minimal skill as a writer would find this medium tailor-made as an outlet for communication. But there is just so much stuff out there in the blogosphere. I feel like a retail marketer every time I sit down to write. That is, I try to figure out how I can produce something that will attract attention amid the endless array of blogs and podcasts and websites that occupy cyberspace and clog the internet.
Even though I don’t find the task of writing burdensome, it still requires a significant investment of time and energy. Writing is hard work, and I work as hard at writing this blog as I ever did when I was doing jobs for which I actually got paid. If this blog cannot attract an expanding readership, and especially if its readership is in decline, then I need to examine the reasons for that and possibly make some warranted changes. That’s why I have decided to give Arthur a rest, at least temporarily.
My friends keep telling me that I should regard this medium as a genuine opportunity for ministry, and I am really trying to do that. I am grateful for every person who reads my blog, even though I hear from very few of my readers by way of comments or email response. (Hey, I fully understand that. I don’t send comments or email to the writers of the blogs I read either.) I just really, really miss in-person, face-to-face, interactive ministry. That’s where my heart is, and blogging will always come in second to that.
Still, I am committed to the principle that, whatever I do, I want to do it with all my might, for the glory of God. I try to do that. Part of that means that I do not waste time. At age 63, facing my own mortality as an ever-increasing reality, I am more keenly aware of the need to “redeem the time” than I have ever been.
I need to be convinced that the energy and effort I put into this blog is the best possible use of my time. Since recent response to the Arthur Chronicles has given me reason to question that time-commitment, I decided to give Arthur a bit of “involuntary retirement.” I can do that. It is something I know a lot about.
Thank you for reading my blog and for joining me in my “relentless pursuit of authentic faith.” Grace and peace be multiplied to you.