15 from '15

Another year is almost in the books. Here on the blog, 2015 was a banner year. We had more visitors to the site in these past twelve months than we have ever had before. Granted that was mainly on the strength of one post (more on that later), but a banner year is a banner year.

That would not be possible without you, dear reader (is it weird to call you "dear"?). Thank you so much to all of you who have read this blog, liked posts, left comments, and shared entries from this blog with others on Facebook, Twitter, etc. The best way that new people find their way to this site is through word of mouth. Again, thank you so much.

To look back on the year, here are 15 of the top posts from 2015.

Doomsday and Friendship (January 28)
Early in the year, I published a post that I had been sitting on for several months because I feared it was too personal. I often use writing to work through my past, my relationships, and the way I see the world.

Hitting the Wall (February 9)
The first few months of 2015 found me preaching a handful of sermons at churches. Here is one that I gave at Fernwood Baptist, my home church.

10 Things the Church Could Learn from Parks and Rec (February 24)
This post is by far the most read thing I have ever written. As Parks and Recreation—one of my all-time favorite TV showswas wrapping up its final season, I wrote about a few ways the church could emulate those who work at the Parks Department in Pawnee.

A Reminder of Why I Love Superhero Stories (March 23)
If you follow this blog, you'll know that I am a big fan of superheroes in general and Superman in particular. This year has seen Superman go through some big changes that have done a great job of highlighting what it means to be a hero.

Our Stories Will Probably Be Small, But They Will Matter (March 24)
A simple post about realizing that our small, normal lives still have value.

A New Hope (or The Jar-Jar Redemption) (April 16)
Back in the spring, I was still doing my best to keep my expectations down for the new Star Wars movie. Then the trailer hit the internet and it looked awesome. So I wrote about the prequels, hope for a new, better story, and how I saw the church fitting into the narrative of those making films about a galaxy far, far away. And thankfully, the movie turned out to be awesome.

Do Not Fear, Only Believe (June 26)
The early summer was a tumultuous time in the United States. There was the tragic mass shooting at a church in Charleston. There were many conversations about racism and the Confederate flag in my home state of South Carolina. And the Supreme Court issued a decision that legalized gay marriage throughout the country. Through this there was a lot of hand-wringing and thankfully the scripture passage for that week spoke to the climate (and, yes, I do know I still have to deliver a post on the parenthetical comment I made).

The Duomo in Florence (A Redemption) (July 23)
My wife EA and I had the privilege to travel to Italy this summer and I wrote about our adventures in a series called Journeys in Italy. This entry centered on our visit to Florence, a city that held particularly bad memories from a foreign study trip in college.

Home (August 6)
The Italy trip was to celebrate mine and EA's 10th wedding anniversary and a retrospective of this year would not be complete without this post that marked that occasion.

And I Forgot to Be Nervous (August 20)
The story of our oldest son beginning kindergarten and how he taught me not to worry.

An Imaginary Conversation in Which Donald Trump and I Time Travel to See Jesus' Encounter with the Syrophoenician Woman (September 3)
So Donald Trump was a thing this year (and people out there seem determined to continue to make him be a thing). As his candidacy was ascendant on the back of derogatory comments about immigrants, I imagined what it would be like if we witnessed one of Jesus' more challenging encounters with someone who was marginalized.

If I'm Being Honest (September 16)
In which I tried to be honest about a few of the things on my mind. This post was later adapted into a short film by Cliff Williams.

The Thing I Need to Believe About God (November 15)
Late October and early November was a particularly rough season for me. This is about how a challenge from my wife and a communion service started me on the road of crawling out of it.

A Losing Season in the Bleachers (November 21)
Throughout the fall, I wrote weekly about my favorite college football team. There were a few highs and many more lows. At the end of a 4-7 season, I reflected on what keeps me tethered to this small school team even when they aren't very good.

Broody the Advent Viper (December 12)
I closed out the year with Sketching Advent, a series in which I sketched drawings and wrote corresponding devotionals about the Christmas season during each day of Advent. I posted for 26 consecutive straight days, which is a record in my ten years of blogging. I felt like some of the posts were repetitive or not fully fleshed out. But there were also posts like this one in which I craft a Christmas special based on John the Baptist calling the crowds a "brood of vipers." Few things bring me more joy than taking scripture passages and retelling them in offbeat ways.


Books, TV, Movies, Music, & Podcasts That I Liked in 2015