If this is paradise, I wish I had a lawnmower: Best-of 2014

If this is paradise, I wish I had a lawnmower: Best-of 2014 December 29, 2014

I know we’ve got a few more days of 2014, but I’m sick and I’m wallowing. Nothing but true crime and schlocky suspense/horror for me until the New Year. So let’s do this thing! As always I will wander freely and without warning between “best” and “favorite.”

Best books read (nonfiction): Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Meditation on Fathers, Brothers, And Sons. I read this because Wesley Hill loves it so much. What should I read next year, Wes? …My psychology doesn’t always line up too well with Nouwen’s, but that didn’t stop this from being so necessary for me. Really freeing; a beautiful portrayal of God’s trustworthiness and His desire that we become like Him.

Bp. Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way

Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear. It’s really only a gift of fear.

Melinda Selmys, Sexual Authenticity: More Reflections

Archdiocese of Philadelphia (no, trust me!), Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive

And I was thrilled to read the galleys for two books coming out in 2015: Wesley Hill’s Spiritual Friendship and Leah Libresco’s Arriving at Amen. Both are super-excellent!

Best books read for the first time (fiction etc): Infinite Jest. No contest; this blew everything else away. Still thinking about it, having nightmares, etc.

John Darnielle, Master of Reality

Wilfrid Sheed, The Hack

Iris Murdoch, The Book and the Brotherhood

Marilynne Robinson, Lila (my review is in the current AmCon print edition)

Also notable: We the Animals, The Adventures of Sumiyakist Q, The Spectacular Now, Unconditional Surrender, Wolf in White Van

Best movies watched for the first time: We Are the Best!

Two Days, One Night

Desire of the Everlasting Hills

The Exiles

The Last Days of Disco

Also notable: Black Robe; Like Father, Like Son; The Addiction; City of God; Casque d’Or; Ace in the Hole; Phone Booth; Trapeze; Let the Right One In; Rachel Getting Married; Ida; Near Dark; The Swimmer; Blindness; Jesus of Montreal; Ravenous; The Innocents; Wolfen; He Who Gets Slapped; Krabat; M. Butterfly; The Babadook; The Craft. <–these are in order of when I saw them

Best theater: You know, nothing set me on fire this year. Studio Theater did a lot of solid work.

Best art shows: “Degenerate Art,” at the Neue Galerie

Kobayashi Kirochika, “Master of the Night,” at the Freer Gallery

El Greco at the National Gallery of Art

Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950,” at the Hirshhorn

Indelible: The Platinum Photographs of Larry McNeil and Will Wilson,” at the National Museum of the American Indian

This is where I should note again how great Sydney’s Hyde Park Barracks is.

Best articles etc by other people: Pelagia Horgan, Aeon, “How Should Secular People Approach Sacred Art?” Phenomenal piece; I’m going to write a bit more about it in the New Year.

Mark Slutsky, Buzzfeed, “Sad YouTube: The Lost Treasures of the Internet’s Greatest Cesspool.” So much better than I expected.

Radley Balko, Washington Post, “How Municipalities in St Louis Co., Mo., Profit from Poverty

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, Patheos, “Morality as Worship” (and hey, let’s hear it for “In Defense of Flagellation” while we’re here)

Sarah Stillman, The New Yorker, “Get Out of Jail, Inc.”

Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, “Stop Helicopter-Parenting Other People’s Kids

And, well outside my usual wheelhouses, “Five Details They Cut from My Season of ‘The Biggest Loser.’

Best articles by me: “Sublime Recovery vs. Banal Recovery.”

Flying Camels, Butterflies and Twizzles.” I attend the US National Figure Skating Championships.

The Gift Shop of the Dead.” I visit the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.

Criminal or Prisoner?

Sorrow’s Native Sons.” Reporting live from 1984, here’s me on the Smiths!

Best blog posts by me: I really liked the two series I did this year, the musical rosary and the “DVD extras” from my book. Those links will take you to the complete list of posts in the series. I also thought “The Mask of Obedience” and “The Prison of My Person, The Shackles of My Skin” did some good work.

Best book by me (published): Why, Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith. Put your paws on that puppy.


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