It’s been quite a year here at Bearings Online. We kicked off our 50th Anniversary celebration by profiling Collegeville Institute Greats, including Krista Tippett, Parker J. Palmer, and Kathleen Norris. In addition, we welcomed a group of new Regular Contributors to Bearings Online who wrote on a myriad of topics, including racism, confederate monuments, and spiritual but not religious (SBNR) theology. Susan Sink joined our editorial team mid-year and interviewed Lauren F. Winner, poet Marjorie Stelmach, and jazz composer Deanna Witkowski, among many others.
As you peruse the lists below, we hope you enjoy looking back at the Bearings Online articles that our readers and staff have most enjoyed this year.
Top 10 articles from 2017*
Why are some Jesus-loving Christians giving up on church? Read Chanequa Walker-Barnes’ personal essay on looking for God outside her local congregation.
#2—Let Them Listen: White Christians Need to Make an Investment in Learning about Racism by David Evans
In the wake of Charlottesville, David Evans writes why he no longer will answer the question: “Why is racism still a problem?”
Natasha Oladokun’s moving essay, which describes her experience marching against the KKK, asks a powerful question about belonging, faith, and solidarity.
How does the legacy of Protestant fundamentalism influence how Americans view so-called sacred texts, from the Bible to the U.S. Constitution?
Is it lawful to steal through stress of need? Vance Morgan engages in a classroom debate over whether Christianity and capitalism are compatible.
#6—My Multi-Faith Moment at Marshall’s: An Excerpt Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To by Lillian Daniel
In this excerpt from her latest book, Lillian Daniel ends up apologizing on behalf of the Christian Church to a stranger in the checkout line at Marshall’s.
Spiritual but not religious people are looking for places of worship where genuine emotion is celebrated, not mocked as “cheesy.”
Mona Hanford describes the work of the Hope Initiative, which offers people spiritual support as they make difficult end-of-life decisions.
In this interview, Resident Scholar Brendan McInerny explores a theology of play, which offers a much-needed perspective on our activity in the world.
Many Christian organizations are conflict averse, writes Chanequa Walker-Barnes, but this blocks the potential blessing of growth and positive innovation.
Top 5 poems from 2017*
5 most shared articles or poems from 2017**
- Why I Gave Up Church by Chanequa Walker-Barnes
- Let Them Listen: White Christians Need to Make an Investment in Learning about Racism by David Evans
- God Said It. I Believe It. That Settles It. (Except It Doesn’t.) by Vance Morgan
- Flannery’s Twin by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell
- The Verb of Them by Andrew Taylor-Troutman
Staff favorites from 2017
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 two favorites this year. First is the Flannery O’Connor series of poems by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell. I appreciated the way O’Donnell interrogated the world of feeling and thought of this great author. That takes guts since so many people love O’Connor and one risks getting it wrong. But like O’Connor, O’Donnell takes some risks in these poems and I appreciated that.
Second was Vocation in the Real World by Ruth Harder. Over the past several years as I’ve immersed myself in studying Christian vocation, I’ve read a lot of stories. Harder’s tearful swim, her “rescue,” and her long walk back to campus remind us that God calls out us in the hardest times of our lives and in the most lovely places.
“Fisher’s Club” by Sharon Chmielarz emerged as my favorite post for two reasons: One, I have spent many evenings at Fisher’s Club enjoying a night out; thus, Sharon’s poem brought me back to the Club’s lively atmosphere. And two, although I wasn’t physically there on the evening she described, in my mind’s eye, I was. And that, to me, is a measure of an excellent poem.
Laura Kelly Fanucci
I loved The Lives I Have Lived Inside My Head by Sarah Sanderson—an elegy to the daydreamers and the doers among us (and how most of us are both). The author captures the tempting tug between the might-have-been versions of ourselves and the messy reality of the lives we have chosen. The truth of calling often lies between the beautiful and the mundane.
I joined the editorial team in April, looking forward to being “part of the conversation” happening at the Collegeville Institute, the part that happens in Bearings Online. And I’ve enjoyed every week—the poetry, the interviews, the books I’ve been able to read, the essays.
Most important to me has been the work of David Evans and Natasha Oladokun around the Alt-Right/Nazi rallies in Charlottesville. Most of the country think there was only one, but Natasha wrote about an earlier rally that didn’t get much attention. To see those events through the eyes of two African American writers in Virginia was a privilege. When friends on Facebook were struggling to make sense of the deadly rally and President Trump’s remarks following it, I was happy to be able to repost these testimonies to my feed. I am grateful for David and Natasha’s contributions to Bearings Online and hope to learn more from them in coming months.
Happy New Year from all of us here at the Collegeville Institute.
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