Favorite Things and Not So Much: 2013 in Review

2013 has been my first full year with Patheos. I think I posted between ten and twelve times per month, so conservative simple addition estimates puts that at more than a hundred entries. I polled Twitter and Facebook for what people thought my best and worst posts were. Robbie Dixon, who rarely writes at his excellent blog, Simple GIFs, had the best and most comprehensive reply:

Best: I liked “The Educational Significance of Advent,” which successfully accomplished the difficult task of combining a characteristic Rochian style with the kind of lightweight bullet-point presentation so beloved of today’s Internet. “Overzealous Evangelism Sucks” is good. “Boredom is Laziness,” a simple and devastating sledgehammer, is my candidate for your post of the year. “An Aesthetic Critique of Youth Ministry” is very solid. “Why I’m Not Writing About the Trayvon Martin Case” was thoughtful and well-considered. “The Womb of Love: A Womanist Manifesto” is fascinating and beautiful. Your melancholy posts about Kermit Gosnell were bracingly honest even as they outwardly accomplished nothing but confusion. “An Open Letter to Salon and Mary McCluskey” is fantastic.

Worst: All the navel-gazing blog posts about why and whether you do or don’t write blog posts. “Father Z Equates Catholic Bishops at WYD 2013 With Nazis,” a tedious and purposeless exercise in belaboring the obvious and crass intellectual showmanship. “Live Free and Die,” which reads like a lazy and predictable placeholder when you couldn’t be arsed to write anything substantial on the issue, or even use words correctly. “Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down,” an absurd self-parody full of Rochian shibboleths and terrible poetry. “Beyoncé and My Legs,” a comically self-aggrandizing train wreck of a post. The “Tale of Three Cubicles,” which was badly written and pointless.

The worst posts seem to be concentrated toward the beginning of the year, which is a hopeful sign.

Beside Cubicles being better and Laziness being worse, I agree completely. (Was the Beyonce post that bad? Probably.) Others, including Jody himself, seemed to like my reply to Joseph Bottum’s controversial Commonweal essay. I really think that I need to stop picking fights and writing about why I blog and don’t blog and what am I doing here? And, mark my words: no more poetry! I certainly think the most popular posts are not representative of the best work I’ve done and, in many cases, are the worst.

This year I started two projects I’ve enjoyed and hope to keep going in 2014: “The Art of Blogging,” interviews with Patheos colleagues, and “The Weekly Apocalypse,” my really realistic news round up. Once I get a larger collection, I’ll add tabs for them.

It’s been a good year all around, at Patheos and elsewhere. I think I’ve learned some lessons I might not need to re-learn very soon. I’ve unlearned a few things, too.

My favorite album of the year was Sombear’s Love You in the Dark. I won’t say what my least favorite album was; I hear that the artist is super duper nice and I bet that she or he isn’t in a very good position to make the sort of music she or he wants to make. My least favorite movie was Gravity — it was a tortured motivational poster of a bore. My favorite newfound gem of a film was The Island. My favorite movie of 2013 was probably Anchorman 2, but nothing I saw this year was that great.

Pope Francis has taken us all by storm, but I was more impressed by Benedict’s papal Twitter account and resignation. Lots of the stuff in vogue right now on the emerging Catholic alternative to the Right and Left wing ideology is stuff I was writing about at Vox Nova in 2009. I guess I should have waited.

In new arrivals, my beautiful daughter was born this year and I acquired a 1959 Gibson ES-125. My Primer was published and has sold well, for which I thank everyone writing reviews and buying copies and sharing. I also got to play two concerts for the exciting and inspiring The Harmonium Project, which you need to support RIGHT NOW. More on that very soon.

My favorite memoir this year was probably Chris Haw’s From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart. I also enjoyed reading very closely — and reviewing, too — Eduardo Duarte’s Being and Learning. There were plenty of books I didn’t care for, but I didn’t finish any of them. G.E.M. Anscombe’s introduction to the Tractatus was very illuminating to read this year. I regret reading (and writing) anything and everything related to politics. In 2014 I’ll take over as the editor of book reviews for Springer’s journal, Studies in Philosophy and Education.

I appreciate all of you who take time to stop in and read what I write here, and elsewhere. Feel free to chime in with your favorites and the stuff you thought was really bad. Or not. Regardless, I always appreciate what you have to say, even when I don’t agree with it. I wish you all a blessed New Year.


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