Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

My blog just celebrated its fifth birthday. My very first blog post appeared on December 22, 2003, at 3:42 p.m. It was called: “Review: The Da Vinci Code is Truly Fictional” and contained 483 words. There’s a bit of irony here, as my long-time blog readers know, because, later on, I put up well over 100,000 words debunking the “historical” claims of The DaVinci Code. But, when I started blogging I was a bit more concise. No doubt some of you wish I had maintained the discipline of brevity. (Photo: My very first blog post.)
As many of you know already, I got into blogging at the urging of Hugh Hewitt. He had been bugging me about starting a blog for many months before we had dinner in early December of 2003. Over Italian food, Hugh started in again about how important it was for the blogosphere to have voices like mine in it (Christian, evangelical, reasonably sane). He shot down my excuses for not starting a blog, though he did offer a sage warning: “Blogging is a harsh mistress.” Translation: If you start and take it seriously, blogging will require time, energy, and lots of commitment. No kidding! In the past five years, I figure I’ve spent around 2,000 hours blogging–that’s 250 8-hour days.
From the beginning, my blog was an avenue for pastoral communication. I talked about the issues I would like to talk about with my own congregation, if I had the time. I reserved the right, however, to interrupt a serious conversation with silly or fun or personal items. No doubt you’ve seen plenty of this if you’ve visited my blog a few times. For example: “Practical Christian Living and Potty Talk,” or my ongoing series reporting on the police blotter from the Boerne Star.
One of the  unusual features of my blog is the proliferation of series-length essays. Most bloggers write posts that are relatively short, and they don’t often link them together in a connected essay. But I found myself wanting to say things that just didn’t fit in 250 or even 1,000 words. So I developed the blog series. Because I was working in HTML, rather than using a blog engine (Blogger, Typepad, etc.), my series could be formatted so you could read it in chronological/logical order, rather than upside down, as is typical for blog categories. Some of my longest blog series ended up the size of a typical non-fiction book. In fact, one of them became a non-fiction book. Are the New Testament Gospels Reliable? became the book Can We Trust the Gospels?. (A few of my harshest critics think this is more of a fiction book, actually. But we’ll leave this for another day.)
For more than three years, I did my blog “by hand” with Dreamweaver/HTML. This gave me lots of power in formatting and design, but it meant my blog lacked the automation that makes blogging easy and that allows for convenient commenting, archiving, etc. Finally, in April 2007, I embedded a WordPress blog engine into my website. This allowed me to do things like put up posts at one time that would become visible later, thus buying me a day off every now and then. For example, my blog will have a new post on Christmas, but I’ll put it up a few days earlier. Perhaps more importantly, using WordPress enabled my readers to add comments with relative ease. My blog became more of a conversation and less of a lecture. I’ll have more to say about this in a few days.
I must admit that I’ve been amazed by the impact of my blog. On December 23, 2003, the day of my blog’s birth, it received 44 visitors who looked at a total of 174 pages. That felt like a good start to me. At least somebody besides my mother actually visited my blog! By the end of this year, my blog will have had well over 3,000,000 total visitors. In the last year, the 1,000,000 plus people who visited markdroberts.com looked at more than 3,500,000 pages. I marvel at the power of the Internet to foster communication throughout the world.
From the beginning, I wanted to blog responsibly, to speak with as much clarity and truth as I could muster. Whether I have fulfilled this commitment, I leave it to my readers to judge. But I continue to feel a great responsibility in my blogging. I do indeed want to be a trustworthy, gracious, Christian voice in the blogosphere, much as Hugh Hewitt once envisioned. I try to treat all people with respect, including those I’m critiquing or those who critique me. In my opinion, the lasting thing the world world needs is more harshness, more stridency, more narrowmindedness, more unwillingness to listen thoughtfully to others. In my blog I try to follow Jesus’ simple advice: Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Not as my young brother once said: Do unto others as you would like to do unto them.)
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, or even an occasional visitor, I want to thank you for your faithfulness and encouragement. I can’t tell you how many times I have wondered whether my blogging effort was worthwhile, only to receive a note from someone thanking me for something I had written. Oh, to be sure, there have been other kinds of notes as well, from people who’d prefer that I stop blogging. A few seem to wish that I’d drop off the face of the earth. But the vast majority of readers who communicate with me, either through email or comments, have kept me going. This includes, by the way, those who have disagreed with me. Their questions and challenges have sharpened my thinking and sometimes helped to change my mind.
Thus, blogging has been more than a way for me to express myself. It has given me an opportunity to grow in my thinking and, in the process, to develop new relationships. Most of all, I hope that, through blogging, I’ve been able to make the world a little better place.

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