Reflections on 2023 and a vision for the new year

It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since I left my cleaning business with the intention of being a stay-at-home dad and pursuing my writing. Three months after the transition, BioLogos published my first piece, which was a co-written interview about my album Consider the Stars. Then four months after that, I began writing for Baptist News Global after they asked if they could publish a blog I had written comparing King George from the musical Hamilton to the conservative evangelical Calvinist view of God.

Since then, I have occasionally written for other organizations, such as the Center for Christogenesis or the American Academy of Religion. But my primary writing has been for Baptist News Global.

After graduating from Northern Seminary in 2021 and becoming a Clemons Fellow with BNG, I’ve gradually increased the amount of writing I’ve done each year. So for 2023, I wanted to publish 50 articles. In the end, I was able to publish 56 articles or short stories throughout the year at an average of 2300 words per piece.

Looking forward with your help

As I look forward to 2024, I’d like to continue publishing my weekly analysis pieces for BNG as usual. But I also would like to continue writing short stories. This past year, I wrote one about biblical manhood and womanhood and another about how we discuss home and the afterlife.

One of the challenges for me of staying on top of today’s stories are the paywalls that so many articles are behind or the costs related to purchasing books. So while I have always provided my writing for free, I do incur costs from subscriptions and purchases in order to do the quality of writing I have as my standard.

Though I have switched my email subscription service to Substack, I haven’t yet asked for financial support. But if you would like to support the work I’m doing, I would be very grateful if you upgraded to a paid membership. I’m going to be providing the quality of writing I do anyway. But every little bit helps.

As a thank you to everyone who upgrades to a paid subscription, I’ll send you a draft of the first chapter of the book I’m writing about how twenty years in the cleaning industry shaped my theology.

Reflecting back at a year of big conversations

This past year was full of big conversations about the hierarchies we build and the exiles they cause. I had one article in BNG’s top five opinion pieces for the year. And I wrote twelve of their top twenty analysis pieces.

BNG’s Jeff Brumley wrote, “Twelve of the most-read analysis pieces of the year were written by one author, BNG freelancer Rick Pidcock. That’s likely a new record for any category of BNG most-read lists for a single year.”

Mark Wingfield, the executive director for BNG, added: “A few comments on this year’s lists. First, you’ll notice another former Clemons Fellow showing up prominently on the most-read lists. That’s Rick Pidcock, who writes for us almost weekly and produces some of the most thoughtful analysis pieces. One of Rick’s gifts to us is his ability to draw readers from beyond our Baptist base and to interpret the larger evangelical culture.”

If you’d like to catch up on any of the top articles you may have missed, here they are:

Top Opinion Articles

Plagiarism is the least thing to worry about with Voddie Baucham, who is a threat to children, women and daughters,” March 7, 2022.

Top Analysis Articles

Now, Pastor Greg Locke is a demon slayer,” March 14, 2023.

Amy Grant will host a same-sex wedding, Franklin Graham objects, and where does that leave Michael W. Smith?” Dec. 20, 2022.

How to connect the dots while watching Shiny Happy People,” June 7, 2023.

We don’t need more ‘context’ to understand Josh Butler’s article on sex and the church,” March 6 2023.

Pastor Greg Locke is all over the internet spreading conspiracies; here’s why you shouldn’t believe him,” Aug. 2, 2021.

Preston Sprinkle’s strange interview with Sheila Gregoire and Rebecca Lindenbach,” April 13, 2023.

The New Apostolic Reformation drove the January 6 riots, so why was it overlooked by the House Select Committee?” Jan. 10, 2023.

Why the patriarchy is hyperventilating over Barbie,” July 28, 2023.

Old wounds and power hierarchies are in fashion at Bob Jones University,” April 3, 2023.

What has John MacArthur actually said about race, slavery and the Curse of Ham?” June 20, 2022.

Why I have empathy for Karen Swallow Prior,” July 5, 2023.

Questions to ask while pondering if Asbury is hosting a ‘true revival’,” Feb. 20, 2023.

Being direct while learning to listen

Even if they disagree with me, many people resonate with the way I focus the conversation on how theology affects the way we love or exert power over our neighbors. And while I want to be direct in my pieces, I also want to resist the temptation to present myself as the hero throughout the stories. So I try to feature the perspectives of a variety of people on the underside or outside of the evangelical power structures who should be heard more, while sharing the vulnerable places where our stories connect.

In my last piece of the year about de-masculinizing the church, I quote Lacy Johnson, who says: “I like it when a piece of writing comes across my desk that is brave and vulnerable enough to tell the hard story that is underneath the easy story people like, that shows me the ugly truth that has been wearing a beautiful mask. I like it when a writer confronts my assumptions and biases and I realize I have been wrong. I like to change my mind. This is the work that stories do in the world and stories are how we will save it.”

With your continued support, my hope is that 2024 will be a year of sharing such stories from people like Johnson who have some things to say about how power is used to hurt our neighbors and how vulnerable honesty and love can be embraced to heal. Thank you again for reading, subscribing, and sharing!

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