Best Ministry Book – Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell. I had the privilege to sit under Bryan’s teaching at Covenant Theological Seminary. He is a brilliant, humble and genuine person. I read this book in preparation for his doctoral seminar on the same issue. I probably have read five or six books on preaching in this year alone and believe Christ-Centered Preaching was the most helpful. He gives the preacher sage and practical ways of putting messages together that display the grace and glory of God in Christ without doing violence to the text or trying to conjure up a message that amounts to a parlor trick of ‘finding Jesus in this passage.’
* Honorable Mention – Total Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. This book actually rescues the church’s mission from the myopia of both fundamentalism and liberalism. Total Church hearkens the church back to gospel-centrality while displaying the ways that centrality should impact the church for the world. Having spent some time with Steve Timmis I can tell you that this book isn’t a product of ivory tower thinking but something forged from real-world ministry. This is a book every pastor should own.
Best Fiction – Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. For years my mother has chided me for being a Texan and still not watched the TV miniseries. I told her I wanted to read the book first. So, when one of my closest friends told me he was reading Lonesome Dove and was blown away by it, I knew it was time to pick it up. The only thing I can say is, “Texas, I apologize for waiting so long to read ‘Lonesome Dove.'” McMurtry’s novel is a masterpiece of Texana and the love of friends. It evokes deep and good feelings in me – of friends, of our ranch in the Hill Country, and much more. In a Texas Monthly interview (July 2010) McMurtry said he wanted Lonesome Dove to demythologize the West but wound up increasing its legend all the more. Lonesome Dove is not just the best book I read in 2010, it’s one of the best modern novels I’ve ever read.
* Honorable Mention – No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. Having read McCarthy before (e.g., The Road), I knew him to be a master of the written word. His storytelling is powerfully engrossing and unparalleled today. So, after watching the Coen’s brothers wonderful movie adaptation, there was no question the book would one day fall upon my shelves. The book is gripping and engulfing as it brings the reader face to face with evil, mortality and our ability (or inability) to stop what’s coming.
Best Fiction (Short Story) – Revelation by Flannery O’Connor. Yes, I added the ‘Short Story’ category because Revelation deserved to be mentioned. Actually, I could have put it under the best ‘Christian’ book because O’Connor’s short story about a privileged Southern white woman and her (mis)understanding of God’s grace better illuminates the glory of the gospel than tons of books filling up the local Christian bookstore. The revelation she receives at the end of the story is devastatingly beautiful. A story I likely will never forget. You can find Revelation in O’Connor’s Collected Works.
Best Album – The Medicine by John Mark McMillan. Confession: While I love music, I don’t buy a lot of it. When I do it’s because I think I’ll enjoy it a lot. Thus, I tend to think the album which merits ‘Best Album’ is the one I listened to more than anything else throughout the year. The Medicine was that album for me in 2010. McMillan’s distinctive voice coupled with music dripping with lyrical beauty and haunting guitars (ala U2) makes The Medicine stand out amongst its peers. From the majestic chorus of ‘Skeleton Bones’ (‘Son of Glory dressed in love‘) to the rapture of ‘How He Loves’ (the popular song McMillan authored), The Medicine easily tops the list of the albums I bought this year.
* Honorable Mention – Piano Sonatas, Vol.2 by Dustin O’Halloram. Only piano. Only songs titled with ‘Opus’ and a number. Only one of the most beautiful collections of music I’ve heard in quite some time. This is my default study music. I have probably written more sermons this year listening to O’Halloram than anything else. For a taste, watch the beautiful video to my favorite track, ‘Opus 23.’
Best Movie – I don’t see a lot of movies. It takes quite a bit for me to go a theater and shell out the equivalent of a down payment for a car to see a two-hour movie. Of the movies I did see this year, none of them merited a ‘Best’ award. (Sorry, I haven’t seen Toy Story 3 yet) I did finally see the Lonesome Dove miniseries (after reading the book, of course) and now see why people raved about it. Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones alone are worth the rental, which should run you a lot less than what you’d pay at the box office for any flick this year.
Best Trip That Wasn’t Fandango – Forget it! My annual Fandango trip was at Winter Park, Colorado, this year and tops the list over other 2010 journeys. Good food, great scenery, and better friendships just can’t be beat!
Best Moment of 2010 – Publishing my first book, TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You. Seeing my book pop up on Amazon was an unforgettable moment. Actually, that entire day was a little surreal. Friends giving their kind words to promote it, others tweeting and posting about it, and congratulatory notes and phone calls to top it off made it a day I will never forget. I had scores of people coming up to me over the following days saying, “Hey Yancey, how does it feel to be a real author?” I would just smile and shake my head. It felt ordinary and spectacular all at the same time. While the steady flow of notes from people, pastors and churches who are impacted by the book both humble and bless me today, easily the best moment of 2010 was the day TAP was published.
That’s it for now. What are your “bests?”