Wednesday 23 January 2008

How to increase your blog traffic, and other curiosities

The folk at the GoingToSeminary blog have come up with a cunning and effective strategy for boosting blog traffic. (If I win the prize, I’ll donate it to a reader of F&T.)

Peter Leithart has a nice quote from Pamuk on “why we fall in love with only a few books in a lifetime.” And Brian is absolutely right to defend the importance of theological polemics: “Are not such oppositions entirely necessary, in order to demonstrate the kinds of decision (rather than syncretism) that conversion entails?”

Daniel Philpott writes about the relation between political theology and liberal democracy, noting that Mark Lilla’s argument in The Stillborn God “is driven by his own beliefs about theology as much as it is by his beliefs about the history of theology.” Fr Chris points us to a new First Things article by Avery Dulles on salvation outside the church. And Halden speaks of the pernicious domination of choice in the contemporary church: “The reality of choice, as constructed in late capitalism as the all-powerful arbiter of shaping life, must be met head-on by Christians.”


byron smith said...

Not only have the GTS people come up with a cunning and effective traffic strategy, but Ben has also come up with a cunning and effective strategy for winning the prize, not to mention a cunning and effective strategy for avoiding being seen as mercenary in the process! Everyone wins: GTS gets the traffic; Ben gets the cred and lots of fun watching unsuspecting readers help him win; some lucky F&T reader gets the prize. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

...and now that I know about F&T I can become a reader... and if F&T wins, then I have a chance of winning a $50 amazon gift card and a book... SWEET!

(Does anyone else hear "the circle of life" playing in the background?)

Matt Jenson said...

how's about a 'books i fell in love with' list?

Unknown said...

While you are pointing people around I would add one unsuspecting blog when it comes to theology. Here two incredible posts (here and here) relating to contemporary readings of the akedah. I would highly encourage reading them in their entirety they perhaps the most significant blog posts I have come across.

Anonymous said...

Apropos the Pamuk quote, there is a book just out by the literary critic and psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard, How to Talk about Books You Haven't Read (2007) - very French: immensely entertaining, playful and mischievous, with flashes of brilliance and patches of bullshit. Bayard takes his epigraph from Oscar Wilde: "I never read a book I must review; it prejudices you so."

In one chapter Bayard speaks of our "inner books" which "create a system for receiving other texts and participate both in their reception and their reorganization... a kind of grid through which we read the world."

Each person's inner books, in turn, are part of his "inner library", "around which every personality is constructed, and which then shapes each person's individual relationship to books and to other people.... we are the sum of these accumulated books."

Deliciously against the run of his own argument, Bayard has some scintillating close readings of texts, including (as one might expect) The Name of the Rose, but my favourite is the chapter on Montaigne, "Books You Have Forgotten", where he explores the dimension of time in relation to reading, observing that not only is evey reading a "non-reading" (of other texts and the text itself) but also an "un-reading", an exercise in forgetfulness, a confrontation with oblivion and an experience of irretrievable loss, even (especially?) with books we think we know backwards and forwards.

Bayard also relates reading to romance (Groundhog Day is the vehicle), observing how important are "the proximity of our inner libraries", as well as the range of book we have't read, to successful close encounters.

The last chapter, alas, unnecessarily succumbs to postmodern narcissim. Still, how can you not like a book that begins with a poke at the academic and cultural hypocrisy and mendacity surrounding reading, and goes on frankly to suggest that "it is sometimes easier to do justice to a book if you haven't read it in its entirety - or even opened it," and that "it's totally possible to carry on an engaging conversation about a book you haven't read - including, and perhaps especially, with someone else who hasn't read it either"?

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