Should Blogs Be About Us or About Ideas?

It’s an important question. Maybe the Band of Bloggers panel will discuss it.

I know folks like Owen and Justin Taylor tend to make their blogs about ideas and not about them. Somewhere Owen has said (I couldn’t find the link), in his advice to bloggers, “Make your blog about ideas and not about you” — I think in the context of trying to mute the egocentric tendency of bloggers and blogging. And as the well-read top ten list from Michael Spencer has noted, the number one reason he might not read your (or my) blog is that it is too personal.

I think that Justin Buzzard balances the personal and impersonal aspects on his blog. He shares a fair amount about his life and self, but also has good, thoughtful content. My friend Ben, who is one of the most freakishly intelligent men I know, said:

I think the whole point of blogging is in some way … personality. Maybe you don’t want to talk about yourself all the time, but if people read your blog, it’s because of you (whether they know you or not).

Obviously, this is not an “either-or” — we can incorporate both elements into our blogging. However, there will be a tendency for everyone, whether intentional or not. Most folks will probably tend toward the personal side, given the individualistic nature of blogging — I mean, we all start blogs so that we can get our own thinking and ourselves “out there”, don’t we?

I am trying to strike a balance on this one. Writing thoughtful posts on “non-personal” things takes a lot of work, but it is necessary if blogging is going to be more than just a fluffy online “dear diary.” However, like Ben said, there is an inherent personal aspect to blogging. Just think about how we refer to our favorite blogs — it’s “Justin Taylor’s blog”, not “Between Two Worlds”, when we it comes up in conversation. It’s “Timmy Brister“, not “Provocations and Pantings”. We know a blog by its blogger(s). Of course, this is not just a personal exercise — we come to appreciate blogs and their bloggers by the ideas that they convey and not only from an accounting of their trip to Mammoth Cave or something.

My own tendency is to try and thoughtfully reflect on my personal life and experience in a way that will be applicable and helpful for others. I assume that people don’t want to read  my paper comparing and contrasting the theological methodology of Carl Henry and E.Y Mullins. But I could be wrong (you can read the paper and let me know…).

I am sure you have thoughts on this. Let’s interact.


About Danny Slavich

I am a Christian husband, father, pastor, and poet. I lead Pembroke Road Baptist Church a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in urban South Florida.
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10 Responses to Should Blogs Be About Us or About Ideas?

  1. Ben says:

    Yeah, I usually don’t read it when people post their homework, but I probably would have enjoyed an “abstract” of that paper as a springboard for discussion, perhaps with a link to the paper if I wanted to read more.

    All in all, I think you strike a good balance. Your blog isn’t a “and yesterday I went to the grocery” blog, but it’s about the things that interest you viewed through your lens. So it’s about ideas and about you.

  2. Tato says:

    I agree that it has to be about ideas and you. However, I think that there are very few good blogs about ideas. The obvious reason is because you have to write and think at a pretty high level to discuss ideas and actually grab the attention of an internet reader.

    I have a harder time reading things online than I do in print… so I actually find that I do some blog surfing, but not much blog reading. If a blog is personal I feel like I get to know them a bit and I have more interest. I agree with Spencer’s statement to a degree. I obviously don’t want to know the name of your four cats and that you thought it was cute that one of them coughed up something furry. But it would be nice to see the bloggers personality come out in what they write.

  3. Ben says:

    In fact, I think a discussion of Mullins’ theology could be very interesting. I poked around a little bit to find out about him … it’s all kind of a Baptist hot-button issue, isn’t it? Ironically enough, I looked at the doctrinal statement of Bonnie’s aunt and uncle’s church yesterday, and there was something in there that must be “soul competency”, now that I read about the concept.

    It seems like there are really two strains in evangelicalism fighting for supremacy, you know … this kind of stuff (soul competency, experience, simplicity) against hard theology (monergism, exposition, etc.).

    Tangent, sorry.

  4. Lee says:

    Ben – Why do you think Nathan posted his homework?

  5. Ben says:

    Uh, cause he told me that he was posting his homework … maybe not that post, but I know he did it a lot. No problem with that, but I tend to skim if I read it at all.

  6. Lee says:

    I meant in that particular instance, but ok…

  7. nathanwells says:


    Yeah I post my homework (that wasn’t one though ben – that was for a conversation I had with someone about the poor and I thought since I looked for a resource on the web that had verses on the poor, that by posting what I found it might be helpful to others).

    Actually the reason I post some of my more technical stuff is because I know people search for information on certain subjects and passages wanting a more in depth dealing and so by having some more conservative (i.e. doing our best to be biblically based) perspectives out there I think it can help others in their walk with the Lord.

    I think there is room for both the personal and the academic on blogs – just looking at what people search for is interesting:

    a.t. lincoln ephesians
    acrostic on cross
    david brainard
    ephesians background
    feeding of the 5000 helping poor
    greek or hebrew meaning of excruciating
    how did apostles dress
    how do people change timothy lane review
    jesus compassion feeding 5000
    jesus feeds 5,000 commentary
    losing your slavation through unbelief
    penance examples
    plsams 119
    prescriptive descriptive english languag
    psalm 107 contextual insight
    psalmist wiser than his enemies
    psalms analysis
    quotes in the gospel of matthew on help
    richard bauckham quotes
    section of psalm 119?
    sermon satan’s desire is to sift you sim
    should we pray to saints
    the book of ephesians comentary
    the gospel of matthew and war
    the ways of the old have perished
    who wrote ephesians?
    why didn’t peter lose his salvation
    written word on faith

    There aren’t many free articles out there, everyone wants money, so I just post my stuff – whether it helps or not, I don’t know.

    To be honest in a lot of ways it helps me to keep my focus and even go back over some of my papers to refine them after a while because so often in seminary I feel rushed and by posting it on my blog it makes me want to re-vamp it. Not really that spiritual, but anyways.

    I think having a blog has also helped me personally because it makes me seek out personal application to the things I am learning in seminary, rather than just leave it as information, a lot of times I try to think about ways it shapes my relationship with God.

  8. Yet one of the most “popular” blogs in the SBTS blogosphere is nothing more than a personal blog! Perhaps “idea” blogs are not as important as we like to think.

  9. Danny Slavich says:

    It’s probably obvious, but I tend toward wanting to make my blog more personal instead of less personal. Ben, you only make me like you more when you flatter me :). Tato, I think you’re right — very few of us are qualified or interesting or famous enough to write solely about non-personal issues and have people be interested. Nathan, I always wondered why you posted your homework so much ;). Stephen, you make a great point.

    I’m hoping to reflect more on this soon, but I hate making promises…

  10. drewdixon says:

    Interesting question. I think if we want our blogs to serve other Christians, then they should be less about us. However if we divorce ourselves completely from our blogs then I think we run the risk of divorcing ourselves from the real world and real people.

    In other words, I often wonder if some of these guys who are excellent bloggers are good guys in real life. I have no reason to think they aren’t. I have just gotten into blogging, but even in my short stint I have had to learn to prioritize real relationships. I think a person’s blog isn’t personal at all, then that person should think about whether he/she is a personable person!

    I rarely write blogs with very much personal information. I wrote a very personal blog recently, as you know, about my engagement, in some sense I felt like I was announcing something over the internet that I would prefer to tell people personally about. On the other hand, I enjoyed writing the post because the moment I was sharing about was so dear to me and I suppose that is good for the few people who read my blog to see.

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