You are here. So I’m succeeding, arguing for faith, liberty, locale

The Tulis family resides in Hamilton County, Tenn. From left are David, Jeannette, Josiah, Abigail, Jacob and David.

As a Web entrepreneur, I am avoiding by God’s providence a mighty temptation. And that is to think of success solely in terms of “traffic,” the measure of eyeballs arriving at my website, staying X number of minutes and reading essays A, P and Q.

I am less ashamed to admit it than I used to. But I am a provincialist. I am convinced to look at the world around me from the point of view of my family, my neighbors, my town, my county and so on rather than from an ideological perspective. As a Christian, I start with Christ and His claims upon me. From my presuppositions about ultimate things, I look at people and matters directly in front of me, then further and further out, drawing conclusions as I go. I don’t impose a general idea or an abstract conviction upon my subjects. That’s what ideology makes you do — impose a philosophical grid on every person and every issue.

I make these comments about provincialism to affirm that these ideas influence my view of you and of my livelihood.

To avoid pride and distraction, I need to remember my success as a journalist takes place one person at a time. In making this comment, am I being unrealistic? The Internet is not a personal place. It is a global network. It has nothing to do with personal relationships or community, but with marketing and aggregate numbers.

Huge traffic would satisfy if all I care about are ad rates, commissions and affiliate marketing fees. But if that interest controls, your and my connection becomes less vital, less meaningful. I become part of the Internet problem. I become rootless and fromless, incapable of any sort of real relationship. By God’s grace I will remember you, the reader, as I work. I need to think of inner workings of the individual. I need to remember friends for whom I write, and to remain personal, caring about them.

Goals for our website, despite its many faults, is a labor of love espousing the ideas I have fought for most of my adult life.

I am a former newspaper copy editor who never shared media people’s prejudices. I am married to a one-time missionary to the Dutch and the father of four children ages 9 to 20. I am editor of a Southeast Tennessee homeschooling newsletter, Esprit, which Jeannette and I publish nine times a year. All my life I have fought battles only a genuine but grace-filled nonconformist would token. I have litigated First Amendment rights in court, even making oral arguments personally before the Tennessee Court of Appeals in a case that changed Tennessee law regarding social security number requirements for obtaining a driver’s license.

My argument is self-government under God’s law and the blessings of free markets and localism. With these ideas, presented in the context of local news, my fellow writers and I pursue a consistent worldview for your benefit, and at no charge to you (wonderful, the Internet, isn’t it?)

Shortly I will change our site’s look to avoid scaring away newcomers. On the Web, milliseconds matter in making a first impression. You have come back because outward form matters less than the substance within, the soul, if you will. Other potential readers have not been so gracious, and have held my visual peculiarities against me. The new template will be WordPress, a suitably “minimalist” one called Mon Cahier, French for “my notebook.” Simplicity pleases. I hope you won’t give the look of my site another thought. But be patient with me.

Commitment to minority report

I offer a dissenting report in the affairs of men, the minority view. Thus I consign myself to being happy with you and a few other readers in a small sphere of influence. Nooganomics strongly reflects my person, and I cannot do anything differently and remain authentic and true to what God has given me. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that you have returned and have spoken well of me, that you have gotten somewhat used to my awkward way.

Being an independent journalist and a cultivated Christian in Chattanooga is not tenable unless by doggedness I make it so. I face failure daily as a writer. By God’s grace I have lost and recovered the vision of this website repeatedly. My work here has created much anxiety at home. I am eating away at my children’s inheritance with little chance of restoring and enhancing the funds spent, it would appear to some. But this tribulation is routine for any entrepreneur or small business person, and I face no temptation that other men and women have not encountered and rebuffed.

But the power of negative cash flow is great, sweeping cars, piles of brush, houses and lawn chairs down the road.

Easy ways to help

To make headway against that financial draft, I am hoping to get paid work as rumbles down the runway, its distended wheels bouncing along the tarmac every 200 feet, the gust and its own weight against it.

I’m trying to get paid writing and editing jobs that align themselves with my argument of local economy and aid to family businesses. To that end, I am talking with Internet developers and seeing if I can help in the text and content side of their projects.

You might help me in two ways. One is to promote as a reading destination for people tired of the news buzz and right-wing jabber on the Web. The other is to help me be a little more financially stable.

➤ Refer your friends to and works you found helpful
➤ Pass along links to my better pieces to your friends
➤ Link from your blog or website to mine. Inbound links help my credibility.

Beyond that, send service opportunities my way:

Paying work — Know a business owner who needs a website? Put him in contact with me. My home office number is (423) 332-6459. If I’m out, he should leave a message.

Business ally — Would you or a friend like to sell your goods or services to my readers? It’s a select group, largely local. Get an ad on my site for a nominal sum. See the ad window on the right-hand margin on
Church ads — Is your church interested in having my intelligent, thinking audience members visit? I have a smart homeschool grad, a young woman, who will build your fellowship an ad cheaply.
➤ WordPress help — I’m paying a good man, David Benton, to help me make a website transition. Are you someone who could help me for free with widgets, tweaks and the like? I would be grateful.