A Look Back at 2023 - And Forward to 2024
My year in review and preview
I hope everyone had a great Christmas holiday. As we tend to do this time of year, I wanted to reflect back and share some of the highlights from 2023 - and look forward at what’s coming from me in 2024.
Life in the Negative World
The first topic is of course my book Life in the Negative World: Confronting Challenges in an Anti-Christian Culture with Zondervan Reflective. I actually started work on the project in the first half of 2022, spent much of 2023 in edits and going through the publication process, with the book scheduled to be released on January 30th. It’s an exciting time.
As I said before, I’m asking all of you my readers to pre-order this book if you haven’t already.
Last year was solid in terms of growth. My newsletter got 2.2 million views. I have over 16,000 free tier subscribers. I published 177 posts.
The podcast ended the year with about 225,000 listens across all platforms, with 46 new episodes.
I will share the top posts and podcasts below.
I got a lot of media coverage this year. Highlights include my Wall Street Journal op-ed about what traditional authorities and institutions can learn from online influencers when it comes to reaching men. I was also cited in a great piece by Tom Edsall in the New York Times about one of my major themes, which is how our leadership culture has degraded. I was also featured in Time magazine and elsewhere. The Time piece was interesting because it might be the first time I was cited in a major publication for my work on gender issues rather than my legacy policy matters.
There are also about 650 of you who provide financial support in some way. Thank you so much. I have reached about 75% of my funding goal from reader support. The rest of my budget comes from major donors, consulting projects, speaking engagements, and freelance writing.
As I said, I’m on a solid growth trajectory. I even noticed that my most popular posts of the year skewed toward the end of it, showing that I’m growing.
But I’m not where I’d like to be in terms of impact and would like to bend the curve upward to significantly increase my reach. And while I’m in the top 5% of podcasts, the podcast underperforms vs. my newsletter and is not growing as fast. Clearly I’m a better writer than I am podcast host, but I’d like to close that gap. I also want to reach full financial sustainability from reader and listener support.
My theme for 2024 is leveling up, across multiple dimensions.
How I conduct myself. It’s no secret that we need better leaders in America. I want to conduct myself in a manner worthy of that standard, while continuing to be faithful in what’s in front of me. I want to be serious, hard working, courageous without being gratuitously offensive, further professionalize what I do (such as the improved podcast transcripts I rolled out), be aiming high and thinking big.
Reach and impact. Obviously I want to make the book as high impact and successful as possible. I want to grow my reach in terms of number of people reading and listening. And I want to be able to drive conversation and affect the direction of people and institutions for the better.
Finances. As I said, I’d like to reach full financial sustainability from reader support this year.
I’m anticipating a grueling year, with podcast requests for the book coming in and a number of speaking engagements already lined up. Even just a quick overnight trip during the week really makes it a challenge to keep up with my writing, but I’m going to endeavor to keep up my regular writing pace.
In terms of themes, I will continue to write on the future of the evangelical church, and also men’s issues. In fact, my writings on men’s topics last year were among my most popular. I plan to especially work at developing a positive and aspirational vision for 21st century American manhood. And will continue writing on themes such as leadership that are critical to both the church and society.
You can help me reach my financial goal right now by becoming a paid subscriber today.
Top Articles of the Year
Four of my five most read articles of the year were about men’s issues. Those most popular posts were, in reverse order.
#5 - My piece about how evangelicals have a culture of blaming men for everything.
#4 - A related post about how evangelicals love to shame men. With all the blaming and shaming, it no surprise men decide to turn to online influencers ranging from Jordan Peterson to Joe Rogan to the dubious Andrew Tate instead.
#3 - My article detailing the strategy being touted and pursued by some evangelical leaders to eliminate complementarian gender theology as one of their distinctives and replace it with anti-fundamentalism.
#2 - My response to economist Tyler Cowen’s observation that he doesn’t meet many Protestant intellectuals. This was surely boosted by a kind link from Tyler himself, who has a huge audience.
#1 - And my biggest article of the year was my exposé on the problems with the evangelical concept of “servant leadership” - which are very serious.
And here are the next five most popular pieces, in conventional order.
#6 - A Handyman's Guide to Masculinity - A guest post from John Seel
#7 - Become Illegible - Becoming less visible to governments and other entities, a riff off of the legibility idea from Seeing Like a State.
#8 - The Quest for Male Community - Men want to be on mission in the world together with a group of other men
#9 - Other Conservatisms - There are many different forms of conservatism besides the version on offer from the American conservative movement. I examined two, the aristocratic conservatism of Monocle magazine and E. Digby Baltzell’s conception of an upper class establishment.
Top Podcasts of the Year
My top three podcats of the year were:
#3 - My conversation with Eric LeFevre on the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s version of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy. Although in this case, the modernists lost.
#2 - My conversation with the young Gen Z presbyterian “Redeemed Zoomer” on his plans to retake the mainline denominations.
#1 - Any my top podcast of the year was my conversation with Paul VanderKlay on the future of the Christian Reformed Church denomination.
Paul has a great Youtube channel, by the way.
I should note that some of my back catalog of podcasts got a lot of listens this year too, including my conversation from two years ago with author David Murrow on why men hate going to church, which racked up a few thousand more listens last year.
Thanks to all of you for your readership support in 2023. I appreciate you coming along with me on this journey. Happy New Year and best wishes for a prosperous 2024 to you all.
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