Beliefnet
Gospel Soundcheck

Regular readers of this blog may have been wondering where I’ve been the last few months. Everyone else probably didn’t notice or care.
Well, here’s the deal.
My contract with Beliefnet ended in October, and you may have caught on that over the last year I’ve become a bit burned out covering Christian music. So after a lot of thought and prayer, I’ve decided not to renew my contract.
It has nothing to do with Beliefnet; I’ve very, very much enjoyed writing here and have been blessed in many, many ways by the staff, readers and everyone at the company.
But as you may know Beliefnet was sold and my editor (and her editor, too) left for other jobs. I worked very closely with my editor Dena and loved every minute of it, so things are different without that day-to-day writer/editor relationship.
At the same time, I’ve just become more and more jaded with the commercialization of Christ via Christian music and other “Jesus stuff”. As a consumer, you may not see it. But trust me, Jesus is very much for sale. And writing about the topic has more to do with increasing readership than actually covering the topic, which can often be frustrating. (You can read more about it in this post on my personal blog, Notes From The Funny Farm: “Pageview whoring and the dark side of online writing”.)
And so a few months ago I decided to take a break from Christian music. I stopped writing my music column in the Christian Examiner and other newspapers. I stopped blogging here.
I confess: it’s been grand. Like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I haven’t had to worry about American Idol or Katy Perry or gay Christian artists or any other topic even remotely related to Christian music that I’ve needed to write about in order to generate page views. I’ve posted once or twice, but only out of obligation, not interest in the subject matter.
Instead, I’ve been writing about dogs and animal rescue, a topic I’ve been interested in for a while. I’ve also been working a bit on two book proposals and doing a little investigation into a local unsolved murder case from 1979 that I think might have some potential for an article.
And for 2011? I’m embarking on a Year of Adventure, with a goal of one new adventure every month. But it was a quote from Gary A. Haugen’s book, “Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian” that has really set the tone for the project: “Perhaps my life need not be, in fact, so manifestly shriveled and mediocre if I began to act as if what Jesus said were actually true.”
That’s how I’ve been feeling about my writing: shriveled and mediocre.
Back in April, I attended a pet blogging conference, and one of the speakers said that if you lose interest in your subject matter, it’s time to quit because your readers will notice.
And so after more than two years, it makes sense to officially say goodbye to the Gospel Soundcheck blog.
If I understand correctly, the blog will stay online; readers won’t be able to comment but the whole blog will still be here to read. And I have been talking with the folks at Beliefnet about maybe writing on a different topic. But for now, I’m volunteering at the animal shelter, playing with my own dogs, and overdosing on documentaries on Netflix while the temperatures drop and the snow flies.
And I am still writing about Christian music in feature stories for the Christian Voice Magazine. So I’m not completely out of the industry. And I may even start writing the monthly music column again.
I want to thank all of the readers who have taken time over the years to read, comment and send me story ideas. You are fantastic and I consider you all friends – especially you American Idol fans who joined me live every week for the show. I hope you’ll stay in touch. I’ve included links at the end here to where you can find my writing.
This wasn’t an easy decision – I’ve struggled with the industry and commercialization for a long time. There have been tears and prayers and a lot of searching. But in the end, this is something I just needed to do.
So thank you, thank you, thank you! And please, do stay in touch!
All the best, and my God bless you richly!
Joanne Brokaw
You can find me here:
Notes From The Funny Farm – my personal blog, where I muse about everything from faith to my chickens
Bark Around Town – my blog about dogs and the Rochester, NY dog community
It’s A Dog’s Life – a look at life through the eyes of Bandit, one of my Border collies
Christian Voice Magazine – I write a monthly slice of life column as well as feature stories for this really wonderfully done magazine
And lastly, I’m on Twitter at @joannebrokaw