Happy Belated New Year to Everybody! After three weeks of being largely offline, it’s taking time to get back in blogging mode, so I thought this would be a good time to look back at Year One of our Patheos blog and some of its most popular posts.
Articles about movies and TV tended to draw a big audience, especially when it came to blockbusters like “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Brave,” “Argo,” “Les Miserables,” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” And for those who prefer smaller movies, I also covered the indie romantic comedy/fantasy, “Ruby Sparks,” about a writer whose ideal woman comes to life after he writes a story about her.
On the TV front, the fairy tale driven series “Once Upon a Time” prompted reflections on gaining the world while losing your soul, how a heart of darkness can be redeemed, and whether the possibility of happy endings exists. An episode of the CBS series “Person of Interest” offered a thoughtful look at revenge and the toll it can take on a soul. Meanwhile, the Fox series “Fringe” looked at the hubris of trying to improve upon God, along with the notions of tyranny, hope and family. Finally, the ABC docu-series “NY Med” presented some moving, real life stories about the respect that the staff of New York Presbyterian Hospital showed a homeless woman who was a frequent visitor to their ER – and the story of a unique “ex vivo” surgery that saved another woman’s life.
The Olympics were a huge hit due to great stories like Katie Ledecky’s unexpected swimming win and Jewish-American gymnast Aly Raisman’s triumph in the women’s all around competition. And 2008 gymnastics gold and silver medalist Shawn Johnson shared her story of being a winner in God’s eyes on “Christopher Closeup.”
Speaking of “Christopher Closeup,” it’s been a busy year on that front too. Some notables: Broadcast journalist and author Rita Cosby discussed reconciling with the father who abandoned her family; Kathy DiFiore shared the story of her ministry which offers shelter to pregnant women in crisis; New York Mets player Daniel Murphy revealed how an injury led him to a closer relationship with God; former NFL defensive lineman Joe Ehrmann offered insights on how he uses his background as an abuse victim to be a “wounded healer” to people; “Nashville” star Jonathan Jackson shared the story of his conversion to orthodox Christianity; and author Stephen Martin admitted the quest for meaning in his life has been filled with doubt, anxiety and the help of some monks.
Several Christopher Award winners were featured on the show and blog this year, including Nashville teen Katie Davis who felt Jesus calling her to move to Uganda to care for orphans; Amy Julia Becker who reflected on life as the mother of a child with Down syndrome; and former New York Jet Marty Lyons offered a moving reflection about his charity which grants wishes to seriously ill children.
Many women shared their insights on living lives of purpose and faith. Maura Byrne discussed her new Catholic ministry that offers support to women struggling through abuse and eating disorders; Kara Eschbach and Janet Sahm shared the mission of their new magazine, Verily, which hopes to start fresh conversations about what it means to be real women; author Hallie Lord discussed style, sex and substance from a Catholic perspective; Sister Rosemary Dowd reflected on her life trying to show Christ’s love to prisoners; author Colleen Carroll Campbell revealed how the saints helped her deal with her father’s Alzheimer’s disease and the possibility of infertility; and author Dawn Eden also weighed in on the power of the saints that helped her address being a victim of sexual abuse.
Music played a role on the blog this year through interviews with former “American Idol” contestants Colton Dixon, Scotty McCreery and Brooke White, along with a look at the new album by the gospel group “The Lower Lights,” which includes songs by both Cardinal John Henry Newman and Hank Williams Sr. A review of a book by childhood cancer survivor, singer Paige Omartian, presented a call for young people to follow God’s call in their lives.
Laughter should always be part of everyone’s life. The number of hits generated by funny videos like this exchange between Bonnie Hunt and her Mom, Alice, – and a classic Bob Newhart routine featuring Dean Martin – affirm the universal search for a little joy.
As extensive as this post is, it still doesn’t cover everything that was addressed on the blog in 2012, a year filled with acts of kindness like Christian Bale’s gift to a child with cancer – and horrific moments like the school shootings in Newtown. Here’s hoping that 2013 has more of the former than the latter.