It’s been quite a year here at Bearings Online. We concluded our 50th Anniversary celebration by profiling Collegeville Institute Greats, including Joan Chittister, OSB, Roberta Bondi, and Thomas F. Stransky, CSP. We also began interviewing Resident Scholars each Friday. Our regular contributors continued writing interesting essays on things like spiritual-but-not-religious (SBNR) understandings of God and why pregnancy is a lot like Lent. In addition, we ran several series on Bearings Online, covering evangelicals in the age of Trump, rural churches, identity and (dis)belonging, and apocalyptic Advent readings.
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 2018*
#1—Let it Die: Why More Churches Should Embrace Institutional Death by Chanequa Walker-Barnes
Christians are awful about letting the ministries they create die. What would it look like if they stopped fighting institutional death?
#2—How Can These Things Be? Making Sense of Evangelical Politics by David J. Wood
Many deeply pious Christians are also supporters of Donald Trump. In this essay, David J. Wood explores how evangelical members of his family understand faith and politics.
#3—Why Multicultural Churches Fail: Part One by Chanequa Walker-Barnes
“In a truly multicultural congregation,” writes Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, “everyone learns to code-switch, not just the people of color.”
#4—Is America a Christian Nation? Should it Be? Lessons from Marilynne Robinson by Vance Morgan
Acclaimed writer Marilynne Robinson asks: What would one expect to see if America was a Christian nation? The answer may surprise us.
#5— God Land: Upheaval in the Evangelical Church by Susan Sink
Is evangelicalism actually a tribal identity? Short-term Resident Scholar Lyz Lenz says yes, it has been that way for years but it took the 2016 presidential election for people to actually see it.
#6—Haunted by Power: Carrying the Burdens of Evangelicalism by D.L. Mayfield
“Evangelicalism is me, and it is a burden I will have to live with,” writes D.L. Mayfield in her essay on religion, political power, and the cost of following Jesus.
#7—Why I Stopped “Following Jesus” by Anthony Siegrist
Ditching the label “Christian” and claiming instead to “follow Jesus” may be popular, but Pastor Anthony G. Siegrist believes it’s too little and too weak.
#8—Theology in Uncertain Times: An Interview with Bonhoeffer Scholar Victoria J. Barnett by Collegeville Institute
Bonhoeffer’s life speaks to those who “are wrestling collectively and individually with issues of conscience and our responsibilities as people of faith and as citizens.”
#9—Why I No Longer Call Myself “Evangelical” by Amy Peterson
To kick off our series on evangelicals, Amy Peterson asks her Christian college students: “Surely there’s a difference in public perception between Westboro Baptist types and evangelicals, right?” “Wrong,” they insist.
#10—How Multicultural Churches can Succeed: Part Two by Chanequa Walker-Barnes
Multicultural congregations can succeed if they undergo a process of transformation.
Top 5 poems from 2018*
5 most shared articles or poems from 2018**
- Let it Die: Why More Churches Should Embrace Institutional Death by Chanequa Walker-Barnes
- God Land: Upheaval in the Evangelical Church by Susan Sink
- Collegeville Institute Greats: Thomas F. Stransky, CSP by Patrick Henry
- How Can These Things Be? Making Sense of Evangelical Politics by David J. Wood
- Haunted by Power: Carrying the Burdens of Evangelicalism by D.L. Mayfield
Staff favorites from 2018
We asked several staff members to highlight an article or poem from this year that particularly resonated with them. Below are their responses.
My favorite piece from Bearings Online this year was Following Merton into a ‘Useless Life’ by Charles Halton.
I’m grateful to Halton for alerting me to this memoir of a Trappist monk. Reading the review and then the book itself reminded me of the generative gift of silence and solitude.
I enjoyed the whole series on editors and editing and I had a hard time choosing one essay as each brought home the hard work of editing our own writing and what professional editors do each day. In Please Don’t Hate Me: On Rejection, Editing, and Common Ground, I appreciated Charnell Peters’ clarity about her role in relationship to the piece that has been submitted and not as much to the author.
My favorite series from 2018 was the Scholar Fridays interviews which highlighted our creative, imaginative, talented and wonderful guests! Even though I work closely with our scholars, I still learned something new about each scholar, from a personal tidbit to an insight about how they approach their work to a deeper understanding of their research or writing.
Laura Kelly Fanucci
I loved the series on editing, but I think An Editor’s Envy by Valerie Weaver-Zercher was my favorite! It changed my whole perspective on the editors I’ve worked with and their own callings.
There were so many wonderful essays this year that it’s hard to pick just one. The series I was most excited to edit was on identity, belonging, and the church. The essay I enjoyed reading the most was probably Gerald Schlabach’s Why Believe in God? To Live Inside a Poem, since it describes the kind of apologetics that makes the most sense to me!
There were so many fine poems this year in Bearings Online, and I’m the lucky one who got to choose what to publish from such bounty. Many told and retold stories. I’m a sucker for a good fisherman poem and also for the Annunciation, and we had one each of those this year. What I’m really looking for is some strange, new, complete seeing through an image or a metaphor. In “Simon and Andrew, Summoned” by Regina Bechtle, the “wilting nets” coming undone on the shore struck me, but mostly the idea of the call unclogging a spring deep in the Apostle’s hearts that makes fresh water visible in their eyes. There’s excitement and new life there!
Happy New Year from all of us here at the Collegeville Institute.
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