Tag Archives: Hans Mast

10 Year Blogiversary


Today is my blogiversary. I have been blogging for 10 years.

10 years! That is a long time, especially in Internet years. Besides, it is a full 2/5ths of my life.

As I reflected back on that lazy Sunday afternoon when I decided I might as well start a blog, I tried to recall if anyone besides my mom has been reading my blog for all 10 of these years. I couldn’t go back to my old Xanga blog and check, because Xanga shut down. My memory would have to suffice.

I am fairly certain that Hans Mast commented on my very first blog post. And so, assuming that Hans Mast still reads my blog, he could very well be the person who has been reading my blog the longest (obviously not counting my immediate family members).

This prompted me to hand out some virtual awards to some of my most memorable readers. I am completely working off the top of my head here, so if I forget someone important I am very sorry.


The Longest Reader Award goes to Hans Mast!

Congratulations Hans Mast! (Pause for applause.)

Funny story about Hans. For years I “knew” him online, and imagined him to be an extremely confident outspoken person. Then, after I’d been blogging for several years, I met him in real life.

He wasn’t at all like his online persona. In real life he was much more nervous and soft-spoken. Which was fine, but it sent me into a whirlwind of introspection about how people are not necessarily like they are online. I also worried that people would meet me and I wouldn’t be what they expected.

So what did I do after musing on this? I blogged about it, of course.

Wouldn’t you know it, Hans Mast commented and said, “was I like you expected me to be?”

And I was so embarrassed and didn’t know what to say.

(Keep in mind that this was like, eight years ago. I think Hans Mast’s real personality and online personality match up much better now. Though come to think of it, I haven’t seen him in several years, so how would I know?)

The First Internet Friend Award goes to Hans Shenk and Vonda Esh!

Yes, I’m giving out two awards because I can’t remember which came first. Although I suspect Vonda was before Hans Shenk.

Anyway, I remember that both of these fine folks found a way to go beyond the simple “I blog, you comment” aspect of blogging and have real conversations with me.

Vonda and I talked about writing a lot, and she told me her favorite book was this book about a hermit. I cannot recall what the title of the book was, but a few months ago I became so curious that I tried to go back into the shreds that remain of my old Xanga blog and figure it out. That’s when I discovered that while I can still access my old posts, all the comments and messages are gone.

Hans Shenk would post comments on my blog that were full of giant words. I had to read them three times before I got what he was trying to say, and then I had to try and craft a reply that didn’t make me sound like an idiot in comparison. We had some very long conversations/arguments in the comments but for the life of me I can’t remember what they were about.

Interestingly enough, though I have kept in semi-contact with both, I have never met either in real life.

The First Internet Friend to Become Real Friend Award goes to Esta Doutrich.

Honestly I don’t know if this is quite accurate, because I certainly befriended people I met online before she came along. However, she was the first to become a really really close friend.

I think (Esta, you’ll have to correct me if I’m wrong) that she knew who I was because of my blog before we ever met. However, I didn’t know who she was until she began dating my friend Justin Doutrich. At that point I befriended her online, which blossomed into a wonderful rich friendship in real life.

The First Real Friend to Become Internet Friend award goes to Rachael Sloan!

Weird award, huh? The interesting thing about the internet is that it not only gives you a chance to make new friends, but it gives you a chance to stay connected with people you meet in real life, sometimes even becoming closer to them online than you ever were before.

I met Rachael when I went to Bridgewater College. I met a lot of people when I went to Bridgewater College, actually, and Rachael is the only one I still keep up with at all, mostly because of her interaction with this blog. Thank you for that, Rachael, it’s been awesome!

The Most Long-suffering Reader Award goes to Gabrielle Marcy.

I’m throwing this in there because several years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to put more effort into my blog, and appreciate my readers more. At that time, Gabrielle was my nicest most interactive reader, so I decided I was going to send her a gift. Nothing big, just a handwritten thank-you note I think. So I emailed her asking for her address and I don’t think I ever sent her anything.

That New Year’s resolution was kind of a failure all around.

I’m sorry Gabrielle! I really do appreciate you!

And finally, the Carry the Torch Award goes to Annie Durrett!

Applause! More applause!

I’m highlighting Annie because she reminds me of myself, trying to live creatively and have an interesting life while also having to deal with health issues. She turned to blogging as a creative outlet, which, of course, I think is a fantastic idea. Check out her blog here!

Oh boy. It’s 12: 20 AM, which means that it’s not technically my blogiversary anymore. Anyone else notice that my blog posts always go up extremely late at night? It’s like I’m incapable of posting during daylight hours.

Anyway. Not that it matters. We’ll just pretend it’s still July 17.

Fame, and idolatry, and Zayn Malik, and God, and me.


Today when I got on twitter I saw that the BIG NEWS of the moment was that Zayn Malik, one of the members of the popular boy band One Direction, was quitting the band. Big deal, right? I’ve often wondered how someone with any musical integrity at all could be in a band that is only popular because the members are cute and the music is manufactured by professionals who know how to craft bubblegum pop to appeal to the masses.

If you have ever heard a sermon on modern-day idolatry, I’m sure you’ve heard celebrities mentioned. A number of people, both Christian and secular alike, are disturbed by the way people treat celebrities as gods.

As I read through the comments bemoaning Zane’s departure, however, I realized that treating celebrities like gods extends beyond mere worship.

Have you ever noticed that people often get the idea that God owes us something, whether it be a happy life, a job that we enjoy, or a romantic partner? In a similar way, people get the idea that celebrities owe them something.

Over an over I saw the same disturbing type of comment. “How dare he leave the band? How dare he not give me my favorite music? How dare he not be the person I want him to be?”

In general, I try to spend as little time as possible thinking about people like Zayn. This struck a nerve with me though, and suddenly I was having flashbacks to a year ago, at Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute (SMBI), when I was first struck by a large-scale feeling of not living up to what strangers expected me to be.

I don’t claim to be a celebrity by any stretch of the imagination. In Oregon, isolated from the Mennonite world at large, I rarely meet strangers who know me through my writing. But at SMBI, five out of the fifty students admitted to me that they were big fans of my blog.

Now, five might not sound like many. But that was 10% of the student body, and SMBI provides as smooth of a cross-section of Mennonites as you’re likely to get. And that scared the heebie-jeebies out of me.

Those were just my hard-core fans. Multiple other people knew who I was, similar to the eerie way Mennonites always seem to know who Hans Mast is even if they don’t know much about him. All three of my roommates later admitted to knowing who I was before they met me, and, worst of all…

I wasn’t like they expected me to be.

I am perfectly fine with being the unexpected Mennonite you’re just not quite sure about. If you’re not in my family or my community, and if you’re not my God, I never thought I owed you anything.

I never thought you expected me to owe you anything.

Let me just clarify: My roommates were all lovely ladies and we had great fun together. Sooner or later I was bound to find out that I have an audience, and that the audience has expectations, and that it is impossible for me to meet those expectations.

All the same, it was very painful, and I have had a hard time writing for an audience since then.

Recently I’ve begun to feel that God wants me to write more, and if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I think it’s time to get over my fear of being idolized, and embrace the blessing of actually having an audience.

At the same time, I have a plea for you readers: Please remember that people you have never met are humans too, whether they be your favorite author, an annoying celebrity, or a little blogger with only a few hundred subscribers.

Idealizing someone, even that Christian writer who inspires you to follow Jesus with your whole heart, is very often a form of idolatry.