Welcome to the New Token Lines Site

Welcome, newcomers. I’ve finally left the Google-owned Blogger platform, and this will be the blog’s new home for the foreseeable future. Please update your bookmarks and subscriptions to reflect the change, as the new site address is jvpearce.wordpress.com.

Make yourselves at home, poke around a little bit, and feel free to let me know your feedback on anything from navigation to design. The best news is that post comments, site navigation and design, and other functions should be fully functional (unlike on the Blogger platform), so fire away. To comment, the best way is to click on an individual post’s title, and scroll to the bottom.

There are several tabs up top for your perusal that include an “about” page, book reviews I’ve written, and books I’m reading. The right sidebar contains all sorts of fun widgets, including a category cloud, recent comments, and a Twitter feed. You can also sign up at the bottom of the sidebar to receive posts by email. As with the old site, I get referral points from my link on Amazon and Westminster Books, which helps me and my church library score free books. My only gripe so far with WordPress is that the design isn’t super customizable without paying money, so we’ll see what comes from that. If the font size is too small (I can’t change it), you can hold down the Ctrl button while scrolling up on your mouse’s rolly dohicky.

Stay tuned, my first real post should be hitting this week sometime.


Five year blog anniversary

I find it hard to believe, but today marks my five year anniversary of blogging. From my first post in 2007, I’ve had the pleasure of blogging on books, worship, sports, music, technology, and the mundane. One miscarriage, two kids, three moves, four jobs, five blog designs, almost six years of marriage, and immeasurable grace later, here we are. I’ve written nearly 650 posts, the vast majority of which which are forgettable. But I’m glad to have written them, and have enjoyed going back and reading some of them. I’ve had posts that I (pridefully) thought were excellent but were barely viewed, and controversial posts that made me hang my head in shame. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to take a stroll through some interesting facts, figures, and anecdotes in the short life of token lines.

First, the less interesting: stats. In five years, there have been nearly 19,000 page views from at least 10 countries (though many foreign hits are spam sites). Google is by far the best site referrer, though the Shomo blog is the highest direct URL referrer, with my wife’s blog a close second.

If you’ll ask any blogger who keeps stats, they will most likely say that they are surprised which posts garner the most traffic. That holds true for me. My post about Robinson Crusoe back in 2008 has more than triple the views of any other posts, with a whopping 1,650! It helps that in a Google image search, the graphic on my post is the first result. The second most popular post also comes from 2008, on Scattergories Categories. People apparently enjoy searching for creative lists, though the ones searching for “dirty Scattergories lists” are surely disappointed when they click through to my post. Three of the top ten keyword searches people use to find my blog are Scattergories related, with dirty lists ranking 7th overall. We’re still pretty proud of coming up with the category “Something you would do for a Klondike bar.” Rounding out the top five most viewed posts are: A Prayer for the Broken Hearted, Matt Redman Pew Review, and Reading the Bible in a year.

I’ve had my share of foot-in-the-mouth moments, which tend to correspond with the most vigorous discussions by you. I read all comments even if I don’t respond to them, and am grateful for what I’ve learned through them. Here is a list of the top eight most-commented posts. Consider it a display of my foolishness and a lesson to think before you blog.

Up for grabs: college football allegiance (18 comments, 2010) I’m still a Michigan fan.
Preservething thy language – (16, 2011) Very insightful comments.
Mission trip recap – (15, 2007) Yikes. All comments were deleted.
Providence in the ordinary – (10, 2009) Highlight: My mother in law wonders if she is “lusty.”
Predominant Psalm singing – (10, 2009) One of my dad’s few comments, and he lays the smack down!
Nursery to the golden oldies – (9, 2011) Decent discussion.
Here I am to Worship Pew Review – (8, 2009) I never did finish those Pew Reviews, eh?
Christianese buzzwords – (8, 2011) One of my favorite posts to write.

It’s no secret that I’m a bibliophile, and my most-used tag is books, with 130. Hymns (74), family (64), sports (61), and Scripture (60) round out the top five tags. I’ve also reviewed over 20 books, many of which I’ve received for free from publishers’ blog programs. Over the last five years, I’ve read almost 200 books and undergone three year-long reading goals (Institutes, 50 books, and the Bible). More recently, my blogging has relied heavily on the books I read, not least because the authors of good books say things much better than I can.

Overall, I think I have benefited greatly from blogging. I’ve learned a lot about pride and humility and being slow to speak (and write). I have learned more about brevity and clarity in writing, honed my own style more, and figured out which writers I want to emulate. I have gleaned much from my readers, the books I’ve read (alone and with others), and the things I’ve blogged about. I’ve also learned that as much as I have been tempted to switch to WordPress, Blogger just has more customizable options and add-ons. I’ve thought about stopping blogging too many times to count, but have always persisted – even if my output isn’t what it used to be. After all, if I stop, how would I get free books through Westminster, Amazon, or publisher’s programs?

So thanks for sticking with me. Thank you especially for your patience, your insightful contributions, your encouragement, your challenges, and your clicks on links that get me free swag. Will I be blogging in another five years? Will there even be blogs in another five years?

On why I have designers as friends

The inspiration from this post comes thanks to my new blog header, designed by our good friend Jimmey James, a talented and good-looking graphic/web designer. Pretty good, eh? He asked me about my former grey, drab (my word) header, and that got us talking about a more jazzed up graphic to grace my blog. Since the title of my blog drew its inspiration from a Grateful Dead song, something a little more colorful than grey was in order. Thus, the new header.

The colorful and appealing header two headers ago was designed by none other than the lovely and talented Ryan Saul. But since I decided to shorten my blog title from “Token Lines Suggesting Rhythm” to just “Token Lines” (update your blog rolls accordingly!), that header had run its course. So Jimmey sent along a file he whipped up, and there you have it. There might be new ones in the future if he makes good on his promise to send the other ideas he had if he gets time to lay them out.

All that said, I am wondering why there are so many graphic artist-types in my life. I am by no means a graphic artist, two Photoshop CS3 courses notwithstanding. I neither have the creativity nor program expertise to remotely consider myself a graphic artist. Yet I have made it a habit to gravitate toward the graphic designers as friends whenever we start something new in life – namely work or church. Maybe I try to gain some of their talent through osmosis? Or maybe it’s because I’m not cool, and they are? Or because secretly, deep down, I want to be a hipster? Probably a combination of all three.

That said, for my several other graphic artist friends reading this, I always welcome new, unsolicited header designs. But you’ll have to beat Jimmey’s first.

Random musings

Some thoughts and ideas that I’ve been chewing on lately:

-Salt, in the Mark 9:50 sense, isn’t only a flavor-er, but an anti-decayer and preserver as well. How am I living in light of this fact? (Modern Reformation, Mar/Apr, 2011)

-The confusion of law and gospel has been a perpetual thorn in the church’s side, and today is no different. The “new monasticism” of missional and emergent types as well as calls to “live the gospel” and live radically are just repackaged ways of burdening believers with guilt and fear instead of freeing them to enjoy the glories of resting in Christ’s finished work. (Modern Reformation, Mar/Apr, 2011)

-The most dangerous, most common, most troublesome sin in marriage is our tendency toward self-worship. (Rev. Arrick sermon, 3/13/11)

-Depravity is on full display in the book of Judges. The sin of Israel gets progressively worse as they “do what is right in their own eyes,” the consummation of which is Judges 19, when Israel goes further than Sodom and Gomorrah. Interestingly, Carl Trueman recently preached a sermon on just this passage.

-It’s easy for me to criticize Job’s philosopher friends who simply believe in a souped up version of the prosperity gospel and karma. Your life is hard, they say? Repent, be righteous, and God will bless you. Enjoying prosperity? You must be living righteously. Easy to disagree with, right? But how often do I default to this way of living? Things are going well? God must be pleased with how I’m doing. Things are tough? Then what sin do I need to repent of so that I can start enjoying God’s blessings again? But we’re not prosperity gospelers or cosmic karma-its. Thankfully, God doesn’t treat me as I deserve, but lavishes his grace upon me in Christ, disciplines me, and gives good, undeserving gifts to his children. Job didn’t believe in karma, and he certainly wouldn’t have been a Joel Osteen fan.

Posing as a Dutchman

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been, my absence hasn’t been because I haven’t wanted to blog. Instead, I’ve been keeping busy with work, schoolwork, spending time with my family, and lots of work on the URCNA Songbook Committee. We had a meeting last week in West Michigan, and it was excellent. I’m drafting a press release/report on the meeting for distribution, and I’ll hopefully post that sometime next week. But for now, feel free to head on over and read an article published in Christian Renewal about the Songbook Committee and its new appointments, including me. What the article forgot to mention is that I’m the only non-Dutch member of the committee. Teaser: Mikayla makes her first press appearance! Read it at Glenda Mathes’ blog.

98-percent-content-free talk

I stumbled across this quotation about introverts in a 2003 article in The Atlantic. Enjoy.

“Are introverts arrogant? Hardly. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts. Also, it is probably due to our lack of small talk, a lack that extroverts often mistake for disdain. We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours. ‘Introverts,’ writes a perceptive fellow named Thomas P. Crouser, in an online review of a recent book called Why Should Extroverts Make All the Money? (I’m not making that up, either), ‘are driven to distraction by the semi-internal dialogue extroverts tend to conduct. Introverts don’t outwardly complain, instead roll their eyes and silently curse the darkness.’ Just so.

“The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts’ Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say ‘I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.'”

We Interrupt This Furlough…

…to bring you some exciting news. We’re expecting our first baby January 14, 2011! Elizabeth is in her 10th week, and we’ve heard the heartbeat (twice!) and saw an ultrasound of our little dude/dudette. God is good and gives good (undeserved) gifts to His children.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
The Lord is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.
(Psalm 145:8-13 ESV)

Now back to the furlough…