Why I think blog awards are good (even if I don’t win)

It is the CNMAC 2013 today (the UK Christian New Media Awards and Conference), which highlights some of the best Christian blogs, websites and tweeters in the UK. I am honoured to say that I have been shortlisted for Best Blogger, (and I am not ashamed to admit that I did a little happy dance when I found out.)

 
I may be biased, but I think blog awards and lists like this are good. Each year, when these awards come out, there is a minor scuffle on Twitter as various people debate whether it is a good thing to have Christian blog awards.

 
There are many good reasons not to have award ceremonies for ‘best blogs’:

  • ‘Best’ is subjective. There are five judges for the awards, and it is their choice that determines the winners for the year. It is ‘best’ according to those five judges, not necessarily popular vote, and it is always going to be somewhat subjective. Blogging is something of an art and something of a ministry – and how can we judge art, or ministry? These are tricky issues, and so the word ‘best’ should be held lightly, recognising that it can never be an objective measure.
  • Awards sound anti-Christian. There is an excellent blog post by the wonderful tweeter, God Loves Women, on how making these kinds of ‘best blog’ lists is anti-Christian, because the gospel is inclusive, not exclusive, and how by making awards we are inevitably excluding people who are equally worthy of praise.
  • Awards can exacerbate the often-unhealthy Christian ‘celebrity culture’. Recently, tweeter Helen_a13 was bringing attention to the danger of awards and celebrity culture. Are we in danger of mimicking Hollywood, making idols out of ‘famous Christians’ instead of recognising the body as a whole?
  • Awards can reinforce unhelpful prejudices. I often read the lists of ‘most popular Christian blogs’ or ‘best Christian blogs’, and despair that there are so few women recognised on the lists, when I know so many outstanding women writers and theologians who blog. Male, white, protestant Church leaders are often over-represented (particularly in American lists), which means that the famous get more famous, and the unknown get more unknown, regardless of quality. Popularity doesn’t always equate to quality.
  • Awards can be painful for those who are excluded from them. There is nothing worse than looking down a list and wondering why your name is not on it, and why you are being left out. It is horrible. Suddenly you are a teenager all over again, wondering why you are the last to be picked for a sports team, or wondering why you’re the only girl who hasn’t been asked to dance, and silently listing all your faults as possible reasons for your isolation (…maybe that’s just me!)

 
I totally understand all these reasons why blog awards and lists of this sort are unhelpful or unhealthy, and there are many times when I struggle with the existence of these kinds of awards, for these reasons. We need to have these discussions, and it is good and healthy that they crop up each year.

 
However, I still think that, overall, it is a good thing to have blog awards – because I think it is a good thing to thank and celebrate people, particularly those who are often overlooked. My ever-so-tentative biblical reasoning would be that Paul took time in his letters to single out and thank individuals in the churches he had worked with – Phoebe, Priscilla, Mark, Epenetus, Apelles – and he gives them accolades: Junia was outstanding among the apostles, for example.

 
Now, I’m willing to bet that when that letter was first read out, there were a few people in those churches who were a bit miffed. Perhaps they weren’t mentioned, or perhaps they thought that they had been outstanding among the apostles, and really, if you put it to a public vote, you’d find that Junia was fairly mediocre among the apostles, and it wasn’t fair that she was going to be immortalised in the words of scripture. I reckon this happened because although Paul was an awesome Christian, he was also a sinner, and we sinners forget things, and often neglect to thank people whom we should.

 
But the risk of leaving people out does not negate the benefits of taking the time to thank people and encourage them in their ministry.

 
Sometimes I wonder if our response is somewhat British – we so fear offending people who we’d rather not have the awards at all. (I know that when I published my list of favourite bloggers I was terrified that I would have forgotten someone I loved, and they would be completely offended). It is a more American response to be a cheerleader anyway, and to try to cheer as many people as possible. In this respect at least, I want to be American. I want to cheer people on. It is good to rejoice with those who rejoice.

 
So.
I am shortlisted for the Best Blogger award, and if I win, I will be SO excited, and my face will look like this:

happy face

happy face

 
But I know that the other people in my category are good too, (I particularly know God and Politics and iBenedictines well, whose blogs I hugely respect). So if someone else wins, I am hopeful that my face will look like this:

happy face

happy face

 
I mean, sure – there may be a part of me inside that wishes it were me, and that secretly looks like this:

boo hoo

boo hoo

 
But really, I would like to be the one who cheers. My preference would be to not just have one UK awards ceremony, as there is now, but several awards ceremonies by different bodies, representing many areas of ministry, highlighting blogs that will help various groups of people. But in the absence of many awards, I would rather have some awards than no awards. This is why I have guest posts on my blog, and retweet other people’s blog posts, and review other people’s books, and do Twitter #followFriday – because it’s good to cheer people on, and recognise and celebrate their ministry. Full Stop.

 
I can’t be at the awards ceremony in person, as I am housebound, though I would love to attend. Perhaps I will wear a nice dress at home, in its honour. Tonight I will be celebrating – and most likely for other people, rather than me. But I will be doing it with gusto.

 
Over to you:

  • What do you think about Christian ‘awards’? What are the pros and cons?


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23 Responses to Why I think blog awards are good (even if I don’t win)

  1. Janice 14th November, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Hi Tanya, I’m WAY late in commenting, but my Americanism must be showing through because I thought, “Who doesn’t like giving awards to people?” Of course American culture goes overboard often in the matter of giving awards.

    And I dub you an honorary American in all matters requiring cheering. Just do it loudly – it helps to wear a cowboy hat. (Actually nothing makes you feel quite so free and western as cowboy BOOTS. You’ll want to stomp on dirt clods and give a good “Yee haw” whenever anything remotely happy happens. Back in the day when I worked, I used to wear mine to the office on days I really needed a pick-me-up. Come to think of it, the way my mothering days go I should wear them around the house sometimes…)

    • Tanya 26th November, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      I’m way late in replying…. But I love this!

      And thank you for dobbing me an honorary American! Woo hoo! I’m actually really honoured by that!
      That is AWESOME, DUDE! (See how American I sound?)
      And I SO need to see a picture of you wearing cowboy boots…

  2. Mark Allman 11th November, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Tanya,
    I am so glad you were in the short list. Your blog certainly is at the top of my list of favorite blogs and you are as well as a person. I hope you win. It is an honor to be able to be part of your space here. I look forward everyday to checking to see if you have written. Great pictures of you! 🙂
    I think we should celebrate people any which way we can and often. We all need to be encouraged.
    Tanya Marlow…… Prayer Warrior and Blog Warrior

    • Tanya 26th November, 2013 at 11:44 am #

      I’m so late in replying – sorry! I am honoured to be in your ‘shortlist,’ and I am also honoured that you are part of this community and cheer me on each time. We DO all need to be encouraged! Thanks, Mark.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] was delighted and honoured to discover I was a finalist for the UK Christian Blogger of the Year, and had a whale of a time cheering for the winner and runner-up, who were very deserving of their […]

  2. drbexl.co.uk | Thinking about ‘awards’… (#CNMAC13) - 25th November, 2013

    […] are first words (though other’s have already blogged, including fellow judge Sara Batts, and Tanya Marrow who was shortlisted), not last words, and as someone who’s keen to listen and understand […]

  3. Generosity: Pure but not Simple « iBenedictines - 11th November, 2013

    […] Do read Tanya Marlow’s blog post for Saturday afternoon(link opens in new window), when she reflected on the CNMAC Blogger of the Year award, for which […]

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