2019 in Review
Well, here we are, on the cusp of a shiny new decade. December 31 is, of course, a quite natural day to reflect back on the year that was in the world and in one’s life. It’s also an opportunity to have a glance in the rear-view mirror in the life of this little blog. Incredibly, next month will mark my thirteenth anniversary blogging. I don’t think I ever expected that I would still be writing here in the year 2020. It is a testimony either to my stubbornness or your patience (or both) that this blog has survived as long as it has, particularly as the sheer volume of online content continues to wash over us in wave after indecipherable wave, and as our attention spans continue to be eroded by Twitter.
At any rate, as has become my custom, here are the five most viewed posts of 2019 along with a brief description of each.
I wrote this after my grandmother’s tragic death last January. It was a reflection on the passing of a generation and on how a strong, durable faith and character can hold a family together. The bulk of this post was a simply beautiful quote from the poet Christian Wiman’s book My Bright Abyss, where he reflected upon the loss of his own grandmother. His words resonated with me on a deep level, and they seemed to connect with others as well.
It was an eventful year in Canadian politics. The news during the fall federal election campaign was dominated by the discovery of some skeletons in PM Justin Trudeau’s closet, most notably some old pictures of him dressing up a few costumes with some questionable racial overtones. This post discussed our hunger for judgment and our inability to allow for space for growth or, more importantly, forgiveness.
This one was also connected to my grandmother’s death. Her funeral was quite a moving affair, and it prompted a number of conversations along the lines of, “Do you remember when things used to be like this? When communities and families used to come together like this? When churches were full, and lives were celebrated like this?” This post was a reflection on the uses and pitfalls of viewing the church through the lens of nostalgia. It also pondered the question of what kind of lives we admire and how they are produced.
Pornland and Purity Culture: A Tale of Two Impossible Demands
Christians have long struggled to articulate and live out a consistent sexual ethic. This challenge is made even more difficult by our impossible cultural moment when it comes to sex, particularly with the ubiquity of porn and all of its toxic effects upon actual human relationships. What’s a Christian to do? Throw aside the puritanical shackles and climb aboard the liberation train? Double down on a more restrictive sexual ethic? Is that even possible in the digital age? This post reflected on these themes, among others.
One of my personal favourites of 2019. This was the story of what happened when a group of female inmates were called into a support group that I’m a part of instead of the guys. The conversation proceeds in much different directions when twenty women show up instead of a handful of guys. It was a memorable Monday at the jail.
So, these are 2019’s top five. As I say each year in some form or another, though, the main rationale for compiling these year-end posts is to say thank you for dropping by and reading here. I remain grateful for the engagement and connections that take place in this space. I wish you all the best in 2020.
Thanks Ryan, I continue to enjoy your writing and it provokes both nostalgia and thoughtful reflection. Here’s wishing you and your family all the best in the new year as well!
I appreciate this, Bryan. Thanks—and all the best to you and yours in 2020.
Thanks, Ryan, for your Rumblings through 2019. A blessed 2020 to you and yours.
Please keep writing, Ryan.
Thanks, Renita 🙂