The Doc File

The online journal of Luke Dockery

Tag: 2012

The Doc File: 2012 Blog Review and Plans for 2013

The past year was a significant one for my little blog, primarily because at the beginning of 2012, I began to view it as an outlet for ministry rather than a random hobby and this led to some significant changes.

First, it provided more motivation for me to post regularly. Last year I wrote 103 posts, which is the most I’ve ever done in a year, and was the first time I had made it to 100 since 2008 (for the sake of comparison, I blogged only 35 times in 2011). As I continue to blog as a means to teach and provide encouragement in 2013, I am hopeful to continue with a similar level of output, roughly 8-12 posts per month.

Secondly, it occurred to me that if I wanted people to actually read what I write, I needed to be more proactive about promoting my blog. This was (and continues to be) unnatural for me, as I generally don’t like attention or the idea of self-promotion. But since it’s hard for my writings to do much good if no one reads them, at the beginning of the year I started sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter. This, along with the increase in the frequency of my posts, led to a huge jump in my web traffic. By web traffic, here are the three most popular posts of 2012:

(1) What To Do When Your Hard Drive Crashes. Although I primarily write about theology and ministry, I do occasionally branch into other areas, and early in the year I shared some lessons that I learned when the hard drive on my laptop failed. As computers become more and more a part of our lives, obviously this is a problem that a lot of people have to deal with, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by how much traffic this post got, but I was.

(2) The Fall of Man and the Widespread Devastation of Sin: An Introduction. This post was an introduction to a series on the widespread negative consequences of sin in our world. Regrettably, I got distracted by some things at the end of last year and didn’t finish the series, but I plan on returning to it soon.

(3) Is All Sin The Same In God’s Eyes? I like this post, partially because it was this post in large part that helped me to see the teaching potential of having a blog. It sparked quite a discussion both in the comments of the blog and also on Facebook, and led to me being branded as a “false teacher” for the first time. Exciting stuff.

Looking ahead to 2013, I have tweaked the blog a little bit to make it easier to follow and receive updates. First, over on the sidebar you’ll notice a “Followers” widget, which gives you the option of becoming a follower of the blog and receiving updates that way. This is a feature I haven’t used before, so we’ll see how it works.

Also, you might notice that at the end of each post, there is now an array of buttons where you can share a post on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ (yeah I know, no one uses Google+), or email it to someone. So by all means, if you read something that you like and think that other people might benefit from it as well, please share it on Facebook or Twitter and spread it around.
And finally, I do tend to share many (but not all) of my posts on social networking sites, so if you haven’t done so already, feel free to add me as a friend on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading in 2012. I hope it was worth your time and that you will continue to do so in the new year.

Reading in 2012

I like statistics, I like making lists, and I like competing with myself, so a few years ago I started keeping track of the books I read each year.
Here is my reading list for 2012:
  1. Garden of Beasts, by Jeffery Deaver
  2. In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon
  3. Jesus and Jonah, by J. W. McGarvey
  4. How we Got the Bible, by Neil R. Lightfoot
  5. Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane
  6. Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara
  7. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
  8. Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man who Led the Band of Brothers, by Larry Alexander
  9. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
  10. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller
  11. The Days of My Life, by George L. Dockery
  12. Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in your Kids, by Kara E. Powell and Chap Clark
  13. V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
  14. Will God Run?, by Charles Hodge
  15. For Freedom: The Biography of John Nelson Armstrong, by L.C. Sears
  16. Determining the Form: Structures for Preaching, by O. Wesley Allen Jr.
  17. Greek To Me: Learning New Testament Greek Through Memory Visualization, by J. Lyle Story and Cullen I.K. Story
  18. Steeped in the Holy: Preaching as Spiritual Practice, by Raewynne J. Whiteley
  19. The Practice of Preaching, by Paul Scott Wilson
  20. The Witness of Preaching, by Thomas G. Long
  21. Emergence of the “Church of Christ” Denomination, by David Edwin Harrell
  22. The Mystery of Cabin Island, by Franklin W. Dixon
  23. The Sinister Signpost, by Franklin W. Dixon
  24. A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  25. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
  26. Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases, by Ida B. Wells
  27. Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, by John Updike
  28. Fielder from Nowhere, by Jackson Scholz
  29. The Status of Missions in Churches of Christ: A Nationwide Survey of Churches of Christ, by Gailyn Van Rheenen and Bob Waldron
  30. The Fall of the House of Usher, by Edgar Allan Poe
  31. The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster, by Cheeseburger Brown
  32. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry, by Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas
  33. Christianity in Culture: A Study in Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, by Charles H. Kraft*
  34. The Church of Christ in the 21st Century, by Mark Adams
  35. Reading New Testament Greek: Complete Word Lists and Reader’s Guide, by Bernard Brandon Scott, Margaret Dean, Kristen Sparks, and Frances LaZar
  36. The Mark on the Door, by Franklin W. Dixon
  37. It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, by David Alan Black
  38. Set Free? Stay Free! The Fallacy and Failure of Legalism, by Larry Deason
  39. Using Twitter Effectively as a Congregation, by Adam Faughn
  40. Is The Bible Really Completely True? A Deeper Understanding of Biblical Inerrancy, by Matt Robertson
  41. Friend-O-Nomics: How Friendliness Can Make Your Youth Ministry Grow, by Rick Lawrence
  42. A Church That Flies: A New Call to Restoration in the Churches of Christ, by Tim Woodroof
  43. My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf
  44. Stars in the Shadows: The Negro League All-Star Game of 1934, by Charles R. Smith Jr.
  45. The Story, by Biblica**

I stated at the beginning of last year that I intended to write more book reviews in 2012, but I didn’t do very well in that regard. I would like to do better in 2013, but I also realize that for whatever reason, I hate writing book reviews so I’m not sure that I will. Still, even if I don’t write formal reviews, I will try to share helpful quotations and ideas from books that I enjoy.

I read some really good books in 2012. The Devil in the White City and Mystic River were both great (though disturbing), and I also enjoyed Biggest Brother and Killer Angels. Moving over to biblical and theological books, For Freedom was an excellent biography on J.N. Armstrong, the first president of Harding University, and a helpful window into Restoration Movement studies as well. How We Got The Bible was a useful primer on the history of the Bible, The Church of Christ in the 21st Century is an excellent book for Bible class study, and The Status of Missions in Churches of Christ was a very helpful survey book which every Church of Christ elder and minister should read. Undoubtedly though, the gem of the year was Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in your Kids. This is a wonderful book which I believe should be read by every minister and Christian parent in the world. Seriously (it’s so good I just linked to it!).

Disappointing books that I read in 2012 include In His Steps (why is this book famous?), Is The Bible Really Completely True? (a very poor and barely coherent defense of inerrancy), In The Garden of Beasts (which was pretty good, but just disappointing after reading The Devil in the White City), and Christianity in Culture (which was truly unreadable). I also forayed into the graphic novel medium in 2012, but was rather disappointed by some of its highly-rated volumes: Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (none of them were awful; neither were they very good).

My overall book total increased from 39 in 2011 to 45 in 2012. Realistically, I think this is about my limit. Maybe I could push it to 50, but with the delicate time balance that I currently maintain, I’m fairly pleased with this amount.

I’ve already started reading in 2013 and have a long list of books to read (I got 15-20 books for Christmas!), but I’m also interested in the recommendations of others. What were your favorite books from 2012?

(For comparison’s sake, you can see the books I read in 201120102009, and 2008).

*Full disclosure: I didn’t read this entire book. I read the first 1/3-1/2, and then skimmed the rest because of time constraints (it was an assignment for a class). As I mentioned above, I thought it was almost unreadable—some good ideas, but in need of significant editing.

**This was part of Biblica’s new Bible translation which puts the NIV in chronological order and removes chapter and verse numbers to make the text more readable. “The Story” was a compilation of Luke and Acts which we used for our youth group Bible class this past quarter. Since it was self-contained and over 100 pages on its own, I listed it on my reading list separate from my regular Bible reading for the year.

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