It’s been quite a year here at Bearings Online. We’ve tried to bring you articles and poems that suggest faithful responses to today’s problems and opportunities. As part of this, writers such as Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, Oluwatomisin Ordein, and John Hudson responded to the 2016 presidential election; Katherine Willis Pershey and Bromleigh McCleneghan interviewed each other about Christian sex and marriage taboos; Taylor Brorby described why he edited a literary anthology on fracking; William Cahoy, Julian Washio-Collette, Rimes McElveen, and Josina Cooper Guess reflected on intentional community; and Anita L. Bradshaw, Ann Garrido, and others tackled the subject of conflict in the church.
We hope you enjoy looking back at the Bearings Online articles that our readers and staff have most enjoyed this year. If your favorite article or author is not listed below, we’d love to hear from you—use the form below to let us know what piece(s) you liked best this year!
Top 10 articles from 2016*
Pastor Isaac Villegas writes about his decision to officiate a wedding that may cost him his ordination in the Mennonite church.
#2—The Day After by John Hudson
The day after the US presidential election, John Hudson writes that the real work of faith is expanding our “moral imagination.”
After the election, Oluwatomisin Ordein writes: “I was wrong to believe in an authentic spiritual consciousness on the part of many white Christians.”
Elizabeth Liebert discusses why discernment is central to a vibrant spiritual life, the role of individuals versus systems in discernment, and what Pope Francis thinks of this spiritual practice.
#5—Flannery O’Connor: Fiction Fired by Faith: An Interview with Angela Alaimo O’Donnell by Elisabeth Kvernen
O’Donnell on the faith of Flannery O’Connor, the role of violence and the grotesque in O’Connor’s stories, and what her life can teach aspiring writers.
Bonnie Miller-McLemore examines how the different gestures we make when we worship shape our knowledge of God and ourselves, forming us in wisdom.
#7—Negotiating Ordinary Life: What Proverbs and Ecclesiastes Teach Us about Wisdom: An Interview with Amy Plantinga Pauw by Betsy Johnson-Miller
Amy Plantinga Pauw discusses the role of wisdom literature, this “slow knowledge,” in guiding us when life on the ground stops making sense.
In this poetic memoir, Marge Rogers Barrett tells the story of her lifelong calling, which extends far beyond the convent she enters as a young woman.
If you notice what you notice, and write deeply and honestly, you can create an authentic, fresh linkage of image to abstraction—a fresh metaphor.
If your goal is to energetically engage your readers, to grab them by the lapel and say, “Wake up!” “Take note!” “You need this information!” or to touch their hearts, then pay attention to the verbs you use.
Top 5 poems from 2016*
5 most shared articles or poems from 2016**
- Wife and Wife by Isaac S. Villegas
- The Day After by John Hudson
- Assimilate or Go Home: An Interview with D.L. Mayfield by Stina Kielsmeier-Cook
- Imprints by Janet R. Kirchheimer
- Writing in Community: Part One by Betsy Johnson-Miller
Staff favorites from 2016
We asked several staff members to highlight an article or poem from this year that particularly resonated with them. Below are their responses.
I have three favorite posts from Bearings Online this year. In Stammering about God, Michelle Francl captures the mystery of faith, really the mystery of speaking in faith terms, by gazing out at the universe. I also loved reading Finding Fresh Metaphors. Mary Nilsen is such a great writer about writing. And she makes me want to rewrite everything I’ve written in order to get some better metaphors. Finally, I enjoyed the poem Things to Watch out for by Marlene Muller because I like hiking in the wilderness. She captured that experience well.
One of my favorites was Becoming Like Children: An Excerpt from Advent in Narnia. I smiled when I read: “during the time of Advent, we are given permission to act goofy.” I would like “permission” to act goofy all year long! My kids are all grown and now that I have grandchildren, I marvel at watching them look at the Christmas tree and the gifts wrapped under it. The memories coming flooding back of how my own kids reacted to this magical time of year.
Laura Kelly Fanucci
I loved the poem Things to Watch out for by Marlene Muller. Her use of the metaphor of wilderness is artful and evocative, and her charming, wise tone invites the reader to think about their own journeys in new ways.
What was your favorite article or poem this year?
We’d love to hear from you! Tell us about your favorite Bearings Online piece from 2016, and why you liked it. If you need a reminder, here’s a link to the articles we published this year: https://collegevilleinstitute.org/bearings/2016.
Happy New Year from all of us here at the Collegeville Institute.
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