The tagline on this blog is “thoughts about books, reading, and life.” A great deal of my posts are reviews of books and I previously have posted my “Best of 2017” book recommendations as well as my “Most Viewed Reviews,” the ones my followers are most interested in. This blog has also been the home of my “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown” series of posts on my home town of Youngstown, Ohio. I recently posted a “Favorites of 2017” list for this series as well.
The rest of my posts, which I term “general” here are on “reading” and “life.” The posts that garnered the greatest attention generally concerned matters of faith and politics, particularly the scandal of evangelical political captivity, and trying to articulate how Christians might engage political life in a way consistent with a biblical faith. There were also a few posts on reading that you liked, which is gratifying since a major purpose of this blog is to encourage reading, particularly works of worth. So here is the list of your favorite “general” posts, ordered by number of views.
10. Two posts tied for this. Should We Let This Prisoner Out of the Academic Dungeon? focused on the isolation of theology as an academic discipline from other disciplines of study and the mutual learning that could occur if these were permitted to engage with each other. My Response to #MeToo was my attempt as a white male to respond to this growing movement of women (and some men) speaking out against the sexual harassment and assault of women by men, evoked by the fact that some #MeToo posts were by close friends and colleagues.
9. The Battle to Read? picked up on author Philip Yancey’s observation that he was reading far less, and fewer works that demanded focused attention and was the lead off post of a three part series on how to make substantive reading a greater part of our lives.
8. The Dangerous Practice of Reading in Bed explores the once-reputed dangers of reading in bed and explores what kinds of reading might be helpful or unhelpful in our last waking moments of each day.
7. Christian Scholars Review was a feature on one of the journals whose articles and reviews on the connection of faith and scholarship I’ve long appreciated.
6. The Evangelical Penumbra? reflects on a phrase in a recent Ross Douthat op-ed in the New York Times, in which I realized that the way I understand an evangelical faith is on the margins of American evangelicalism as it presently exists and how I come to terms with that.
5. The Scandal of the Church in America: Part Two was the second of a two-part series (the first appears appears below) on the divided American church which mirrors the country’s divides and what I believe must be done if we are to become a people who help heal the country’s wounds rather than deepen them.
4. Leave the Label But Not the 81 Percent considers the movement of many who in the past identified as “evangelicals” to distance themselves from this identifier either in language or affiliation as a result of the finding that 81 percent of Whites identifying as evangelicals voted for President Trump.
3. Legal But Immoral; Moral But Illegal explores through the lens of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the dilemma of what we do when faced with the choice of obeying immoral laws or engaging in acts one would believe moral, but are illegal. Many who aided fugitive slaves faced this dilemma, as do those in the contemporary sanctuary movement. This was one of those posts that continues to get a number of views.
2. The Scandal of the Church in America: Part One focuses on the deep divides in the American church and recalls another time when this was so, the years leading up to the Civil War and proposes that we have a role to play, one way or another in America’s divisive civic life, either to inflame or to heal.
1. Praying for a President You (Don’t) Like was posted shortly before the inauguration of Donald J. Trump to the presidency. This was not the person I wanted in the presidency (that person didn’t make it out of the primaries) and yet scripture commands me to pray for political leaders. I expressed how I would pray, then wrote a follow-up post for friends who struggled with praying for this president titled “When We Can’t Pray for Leaders We Don’t Like.”
For the most part, pretty serious stuff. But I suspect you might agree that these are serious times–that it is vital to understand the times we live in and how then we shall live in those times. As a Christ-follower, I believe my calling is to be found faithful and vigilant in such times and to help others live such lives. I hope this blog serves in part to fulfill that calling, through what we read, and how we live. I have no clue what 2018 will bring, but I hope to keep writing about worthy books, ideas, and lives well-lived. Thanks so much for reading and following in 2017!