With 2013 a few days away, here is my best of 2012…
Best Ministry Book – God’s Big Picture by Vaughn Roberts. I think understanding the Big Story of the Bible (also known as biblical theology) is critical to reading the Bible. That’s why I appreciate Roberts’ book. In an area with such stalwarts as Vos, Goldsworthy, and Greidanus, Roberts makes accessible what the layperson might find tedious or time consuming in reading the former authors. God’s Big Picture takes one major biblical theme (Kingdom) and walks the reader through the redemptive movements of biblical revelation. In doing so Roberts both engages readers in a timely manner and helps them to see that the Bible is ultimately the working out of One Big Story. It’s my favorite book in 2012 because of its usefulness for introducing people to the unity and redemptive heart of the biblical account.
Best Fiction –
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. It’s no secret I’m a Cormac McCarthy fan. I’ve read several of his books. I ended 2011 reading All The Pretty Horses which got my nod for best book of that year. This year I found myself ending 2012 with another McCarthy novel, The Crossing. However, Blood Meridian stood out as not only my favorite of the two but of every fiction book I read this year. I remember immediately tweeting after finishing the book at the end of August: Beautiful. Brutal. Bewildering. I think it a fitting summary. Blood Meridian tells the tale of a young Tennessean who travels with a group of ragged bounty hunters in the lands of Texas-Mexico during the 1850’s. I haven’t read anyone who has such a masterful command of the English language, powers of exquisite description, and the ability to look into the heart of man and life itself as McCarthy. Often I found myself re-reading large sections in the hopes that I fully understood what was being said. Each time I opened the pages I felt dropped into another world both wonderful and horrible. The end stilled me. I remember just sitting there alone, silent, trying to think through what I had just read.
*Honorable Mention – Don DeLillo’s White Noise. My friend Jonathan Dodson suggested this book to me and I’m glad he did. DeLillo’s story follows Jack Gladney and his family as they experience what is called the “airborne toxic event.” Although written in 1985, the cultural critique it brings is almost prophetic in nature for the 2010’s, not the least of which is the tragedy of settling for a life that is wrapped up in pseudo-experiences instead of life itself. The book reminded me of a Thomas Pynchon novel or a Terry Gilliam movie in that from time to time you have to step back and wonder what is really taking place.
Best Album Not By Radiohead – Tamer Animals by Other Lives. This band is Ennio Morricone meets late 60’s folk. I haven’t heard anything like them. The music is from another time and place. It rolls, bellows, whispers, gallops, haunts. Amazing. It’s also an album that I haven’t tired of yet. I saw them open up for Radiohead this year and was blown away. Best opening set I’ve ever heard. They used all kinds of instruments to get the sound they wanted – guitars, cello, tambourine, organ, timpani drum – only thing missing was spoons and a washboard. Best track off the album: For 12
Best Movie – The Dark Knight Rises. Seriously? A Batman movie? I know what you’re thinking, but Christopher Nolan’s flick really isn’t about Batman as crime fighter or superhero but Bruce Wayne as human being, which makes the story all the more compelling. Indeed, that’s what I’ve truly loved about each of Nolan’s offerings in The Dark Knight trilogy. They are story-based. It’s about characters, their struggles, their hopes. Nolan has a way of making both the heroes and villains very human. Notice none of the heroes or villains have superpowers and, like real life, both have foibles and virtues. I loved these movies because they are basically anti-Batman movies – no cheesy superficial fluff about a superhero who bullets never touch, always wins his fights, and solves every problem. They were about The Bat Man.
Best Trip That Wasn’t Fandango – Acts 29 Pastors’ Retreat at Newport Beach, CA. Spending time with my wife is always a treat. Spending time with my fellow pastors from my church is awesome. Spending time with my fellow Acts 29 pastors and wives is a blast. Put all three groups together in the beauty that is the Pacific Coast of Southern California and you have the makings of the best trip of 2012 that wasn’t Fandango. I could’ve spent a month in California but the week we had was incredible. I look forward to going, God-willing, this coming summer.