Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

What have I been Silently Reflecting?

I have been thinking about an interesting phenomenon: the rise of Christianity and what actually may be a good model for studying the rise of Christianity: blogs!

There are a number of entities measuring the blog world: Technorati,, The Truth Laid Bear,, BlogPurse, and Alexa,, are four that come to mind. Today Technorati tracks over 7.5 million weblogs worldwide up from 100,000 two years ago with two-thirds in languages other than English. Technorati indicates that there are 12,000 new blogs every day. The Truth Laid Bear tracks approximately 29,000 blogs but my cursory review indicates that this 29,000 sample of English language blogs is a surprisingly representative sample. How this sample was selected is not known.

Many blogs are inactive yet because of catchy titles or unusual material still receive numerous visitors. kinja,, is rated at 100 by The Truth Laid Bear but when I visited the site today, it said, “We’re sorry there’s nothing to show you” and ranked at 105,, “The page can not be found”. Asymmetrical Information,, last posted May 14, 2004 but is ranked by The Truth Laid Bear at 133. There are also many blank blogs where the name was reserved but nothing has been posted, for example, The Book of Enoch, BlogPulse reports the number of active blogs, those that posted within the past thirty days, was 3.5 million as of May 1, 2005.

On May 26, 2005, Carl Bialik of the Wall Street Journal published a very informative article about measuring blogs. Bialik noted the conflicting numbers reported on the total number of blogs: NY Times and USA Today, 10 million while Ottawa Citizen and the Ann Arbor News reporting 31.6 million blogs.

How are blogs are rated has been a puzzle to me! Bialik states that The Truth Laid Bear and Technorati “evaluate blogs on how often they are linked to other web sites.” However, advertisers are interested in the number of unique visitors each day, not the total number of visitors. Both sets of numbers are available for the indexed blogs.

Rodney Stark, using his solid background in the sociology of religion, has shown that the principle of cultural continuity and the principle that “Social movement grow much faster when they spread through social network”[i] does provide a partial explanation for the explosive growth of Christianity. The network growth rate exhibited by Christianity has been confirmed by the Mormon example.[ii] Stark has shown that “Christianity offered twice as much cultural continuity to the Hellenized Jews as to Gentiles.”[iii] Stark stated, and his conclusion is well documented, “that not only was it the Jews of the diaspora who provided the initial basis for the church growth during the first and early second centuries, but that Jews continued as a significant source of Christian converts until at least as late as the fourth century and that Jewish Christianity was still significant in the fifth century.”[iv]

In subsequent chapters, Stark described the role of epidemics, women, urban chaos and virtue in the growth of Christianity. Furthermore, Stark demonstrated how successful networking occurred by comparing the expansion of Christianity in large urban areas with a significant Diasporan Jewish population with large urban areas with no significant Diasporan Jewish population. “There is a powerful, positive correlation (.69) between synagogues and Christianization.”[v] Trebilco and others have documented the existence of these communities.[vi]

Although my findings are preliminary, it appears that the rise of Christianity and the success of a blog are both related to the success of networking. I do plan to blog further on this fascinating subject.

[i]. Stark, 55.
[ii]. Stark, 18, 56.
[iii]. Stark, 59.
[iv]. Stark, 49.
[v]. Stark, 139.
[vi]. Paul R. Trebilco, Jewish Communities in Asia Minor, (Cambridge, England, 1991).

copyrighted 2005


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