The following is part of a series of short interviews with academic bloggers. (The ‘hub’ for the discussion is the initial post on Starting an Academic Blog where the discussion and links to interviews are kept up-to-date).
Today I am delighted to share an interview with Dr. Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard), Affiliate Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University. Dr. Enns has published a number of articles and books, including Exodus in the NIV Application Commentary series (Zondervan), Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and The Problem of the Old Testament (Baker), and The Evolution of Adam (Baker). He maintains an active blog by his own name, Peter Enns.
1. When and why did you start blogging?
I started blogging in 2009 and moved over to Patheos where I am now in 2011. In 2010-11 I also did a lot of blogging with the BioLogos foundation. I got into blogging slowly. I was encouraged by a friend to blog because he felt there was an audience out there that might be engaged and encouraged by my take on what the Bible is and what it means to read it well. I figured I had noting to lose. He set up a website and I’ve been annoying people ever since.
2. What are a few of the benefits you see in blogging?
Blogging forces me to write accessible content on a regular basis. From a writing point of view, blogging is like working out a few times a week. I also just plain like collecting my thoughts, presenting them well, and trying to see if I can persuade people to think differently after reading my posts than they were thinking before. I suppose that’s the teacher/scholar in me coming through.
I’ve also benefitted from “meeting” people I never would have known–either fellow bloggers or commenters on my posts. These contacts teach me many things, and also also alert me to good books, articles, or posts that are out there and that I might have missed or gotten to only later. It’s like having hundreds of study buddies.
3. Should more academics be blogging?
Yes, for, as we all know, what the world needs is more bloggers, especially academics with their remarkable social skills and uncanny ability to connect with the average person.
All kidding aside, there is no “should” about academics and blogging. Whoever feels a drive to connect with a larger readership on a popular level should. If they don’t feel that drive, they shouldn’t. Personally, I would like to see more academics catch a vision for popular writing, of whatever sort, including blogging, but they need to want to do this–and be willing to do the hard work of not thinking like academics to pull it off.
4. What advice would you give an academic who is thinking about starting?
Try to think of blogging as different mode of communication than lecturing or academic writing. Try to write shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs. Try to keep jargon to a minimum. Think of an audience you want to reach and remember that audience when you write. Accept comments by readers–without it you’re not really blogging anyway–and try to engage when you can those who are taking the time to comment.
And write about what jazzes you, not about what you think you “should” write about to be respectable or (elephant in the room) just to increase traffic. Be you. Let your passions and enthusiasm dictate what you write about. Those passions are who God made you to be. There are people waiting to hear what your passions are. Have fun. Be vulnerable. Show your readers who you are, not just what you know.