Ours is a funny subculture in a funny generation. Pop culture affects us in ways we don't see. We hunger for the "authentic" with a moralistic sensibility. As soon as something (anything; music, books, philosophy, food, personality) begins to be popular, we feel a moral responsibility either to embrace it or to distance ourselves from it (often both... in a very well-timed sequence). Selling out and missing out are on the short list of modern deadly sins.
Popularity is, for the most part, morally neutral and, yet, we treat it as validation or curse. Maybe it's because we have no sense of objectivity in our democracy-laden framework, maybe its because we have no other source of security outside of consensus, whatever the reason, we navigate the waters of art and ideas with "popularity" as our North Star.
About 3 to 4 years ago, a subculture of "New Calvinists" began to coalesce. In days of yore, you were fresh if Taylor, Challies, DeYoung, Mohler, Driscoll, 22 Words and Mahaney showed up in the "links" section of your blog, then, Time Magazine issued a crushing blow to the "indie" feel of it all: the cursed label. In a pop culture, if you want to kill something, label it and make it popular - it's cultural arsenic. Novelty rules.
Blog-erosity during the rise and "fall" of a movement
As this process evolved, some things became evident. Some of us (I'll speak for myself), wanted in on the ground floor of the new hot thing. Our blogs featured content from the biggies and our link list was an exercise in name dropping. We joined the social networks, we did the analytics, we researched every way to blogger-salvation and sought it with zeal. Big follower numbers are a great source of justification - saving us from the hell of obscurity.
A funny thing happened along the way. In a sub-culture which celebrates free justification, many of us became stingy. Justification by followers requires I not risk my precious follower count by introducing my buddy's blog, which (gasp) may actually be a better resource than my own.
Today I declare that I'm sick of my hypocrisy and wrangling so, in the reformed tradition, I'm repenting.
Periodically, I will be introducing blogs and other resources from people I know - the true "Indie Blogosphere" - a priesthood of normal men and women. Read them. Heck, read them instead of me if they are better at stirring your heart for Christ.
Ahhhh, I already feel more free.
"The Joyful Follower"
The first blog in this series is from my buddy Tom Barnes. Tom is a rock star in a faithfully-and-biblically-pastor-a-church-in-rural-Nebraska sort of way. I had the privilege of ministering with him for a couple of years here in Fort Collins and his humility, humor, joy and handle of Truth was a joy to my soul. I miss him (come back Tom).
Every Friday (faithfully) he writes on everything from parenting to Gospel-centered political action. . Put his RSS in your reader - you will be blessed.
Indie vs. Independent Films (Strong Bad will set you straight at Homestarrunner.com)
"Ordinary Pastors" - an interview series by C.J. Mahaney