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Top 11 from 2022, Du Mez CONNECTIONS
A year in review
Thanks, Elon Musk. If it weren’t for Elon threatening to take over Twitter back in the Spring of 2022, I don’t know if I would have taken the plunge to start up this Substack. I’m so glad I did. I loved having a space to respond to current conversations on social media and in my denomination and stay connected to many of the people I’ve come to know and love over the years through our social media connections.
I’m taking this week off, enjoying time with family in Iowa. Highlights include: my dad’s cooking (made-from-scratch chili, oyster stew, omelets, ice cream and chocolate sauce), endless supplies of homemade caramel corn and puppy chow (as soon as the supply gets low, a cousin or aunt steps in to remedy the situation), hours and hours of cousin time (ice skating and swimming and playing in the snow and playing pool and just playing), trips to Sioux City’s Milwaukee Wiener Shop and Palmer Candy Company, seeing my cousin from Idaho and spending a lot of time with my aunt, who just moved into a nursing home, and celebrating the New Year with her with fresh oliebollen.
I did, however, want to take a few minutes to reflect on the past few months since I joined Substack last April.
First off, I’ve been meaning to come up with a better name. Du Mez Connections is…pretty bland. It was only ever intended as a placeholder, until I came up with something better. I landed on “Connections” because the whole point was to stay connected with people, come what may, but I think there’s a better name out there.
If you can think of one, make a suggestion in the comments.
Before I get to the top posts, let me also say a word of thanks. Thank you to all who have decided this newsletter is worth subscribing to. I know inboxes are incredibly cluttered, so I do not take for granted that several thousand of you have decided to welcome these posts into your inbox. A special thank you to those of you who have selected the paid subscription option. This has been a wonderful source of support and encouragement through the uncertainties of this past year. I’m deeply grateful. If you’d like to become a paid subscriber, you’ll have the ability to comment on posts and you’ll receive occasional access to posts for subscribers only—usually updates on my next book that I need to keep more private at this stage of writing. (Usually comments are only open to paid subscribers as a way of easy moderation, but I’m opening up comments on this post to everyone because I need all the help I can get on a new name.)
Now, to the top 11 posts! (I intended to do a top 10 list, but then I saw that I really liked number 11 as well, so top 11 it is.)
When the independent investigation into the SBC released, I was surprisingly emotional, and anger was one of those emotions. Here’s my initial response:
I spent a lot of time this year giving interviews on White Christian Nationalism. Here’s a response to a piece by John Blake, a wonderful journalist at CNN, who featured my work in his overview on WCN:
9. When it looked like the end might be nigh, I tried to sum up what I’ve loved about Twitter:
In which I respond to a frequent question: Can’t you just be a little nicer to white evangelicals?
7. On a number of these occasions, I’ve used this space to reflect on the dynamics of social media. Here I respond to Beth Moore, doing the same:
6. 2022 was the year the media discovered Christian Nationalism. Or maybe 2021 was, but it certainly reached new heights in the runup to the 2022 midterms. It was a bit odd, as a historian, to observe (and to a certain degree, participate in) this trend. Historians know that what now goes under the name Christian Nationalism is nothing new, and we also know that, well, it’s complicated—there is a lot of variation under that umbrella term. Here’s a piece where I reflect on these complexities:
5.One of my favorite posts is about cats in the oatmeal, about how evangelicalism is a brand, and how it’s been a longstanding tactic among evangelical gatekeepers to malign and mischaracterize opponents.
4. I have a high tolerance for criticism, but a very low tolerance for dehumanizing language, and for rhetoric that has the power to incite or justify violence. On numerous occasions, I’ve called this out inside evangelicalism, and here I explain why. For those who know German history, it’s not something to take lightly:
3. Substack has been a good space to engage in academic conversations, and also to address the occasional (or sometimes frequent) mischaracterizations of my work. This post was in response to one of the wilder mischaracterizations a few weeks back:
2. Speaking of mischaracterizations, here’s my response to Rod Dreher’s misrepresentation of my words. Along with at least 3 other top 11 posts, this one attempts to take a step back from the back-and-forth of public controversies and instead examine the tactics being employed. There are people who thrive on stoking outrage while showing zero regard for the truth. I think it’s important to engage but to refuse to play the same game. In all of my writing, I try to always be honest about my own views and the views of others. I enjoyed this exchange with Dreher because it makes things so visible.
Edging out the Dreher controversy, my top post of the year, coming in at over 24k views, was about the Christian Reformed Church’s decision on human sexuality, and how it might affect the denomination, Calvin University, and my own future. No doubt some of the shares were by those hoping (yet again) to cancel me over this issue, but I’ve heard from so many members of the CRC in the United States and Canada who shared with me their deep appreciation for these words. Since my research doesn’t focus on the CRC, I’ve appreciated this space to reflect on my own tradition, my church and university, and connect to others in the denomination around this issue and others.
That rounds things out. I’m looking forward to what 2023 brings. Ideally less controversy, less need to address Christian nationalism, and—one can hope—the completion of my next book!
Best wishes for the new year!