Here is our annual list of the top pieces we published in 2019 and the general year in writing at Mere O.

January

Can We Reject Paedobaptism and Still Receive Paedobaptists?

Several of our most read pieces this year came in this series, which is a debate between Gavin Ortlund and Jonathan Leeman as to whether or not credobaptist churches should recognize infant baptisms as valid. You can access all of the subsequent posts in the series via the links at the top of this post.

John Milbank: A Guide for the Perplexed

Peter Leithart’s introduction to the work of John Milbank was one of our first signature pieces of the year. If you’ve stumbled across Milbank in your reading but never taken the time to wade through his often dense academic work, Dr. Leithart’s introduction could be helpful.

Returning to the Sources: The Scholarship of Richard Muller

Michael Lynch’s introduction to the work of his doktorvater Richard Muller is an essential read for anyone interested in historical scholarship. Muller has changed the way American evangelicals read church history. To understand why, read this essay.

The Burden of Parenting: In Praise of Christian Simplicity

This was another personal favorite of mine—Myles Werntz reflects on the challenges of practicing Christian simplicity while raising young children.

February

To Read Without Pleasure is Stupid: On the Novels of John Williams

Eric Hutchinson’s review of the fiction of midcentury American novelist John Williams is an excellent introduction to a neglected writer.

What Kuyper Gets Wrong: On the Problem with Denominationalism

Ruben Alvarado makes a strong case against Kuyperian ecclesiology.

A Christian Ethic of Sex in a Pornographic Age

I have this theory that Nadia Bolz-Weber is a secret trad Catholic performance artist. It’s the only way I know how to account for her writings on sexuality—it’s all an elaborate trad Catholic troll where they basically ask “what is the most absurd reductio we could run to discredit Protestantism?” Joshua Heavin’s review of her book is a far more charitable treatment of her work, but he makes all the key points about it.

March

Sealed in Blood: Aristopopulism and the City of Man

This is one of my favorite pieces we published all year. Susannah Black wrote about the challenge facing Christians who (rightly) recognize that both the old conservative fusionism and the new post-Christian right are dead ends.

Will Complementarianism Die with the Baby Boomers?

This was a year for debating the future of complementarianism. I attempted to wrestle with its past and future in this piece.

April

The Evangelical Innovators C. S. Lewis Warned Us About

John Shelton’s case against the signers of the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel was one of our most read pieces this year. In it, Shelton compared the underlying principles behind the SJ&G crowd with many of the ideas Lewis condemned in The Abolition of Man and found them to be… alarmingly similar.

The End of Christendom: Notes on the Burning of Notre Dame

This was my most-read piece on the site in 2019. It was written in the midst of processing the tragedy at Notre Dame Cathedral this past holy week.

Natural Law and the Prospects of Persuasion

James Clark takes up the perennial question of whether or not natural law actually has any persuasive potential in our cultural moment. This is a careful, rigorous study of an important question.

Sex and the Supremacy of Technique

This was a big year for debates about sex ethics within evangelicalism. Matthew Loftus’s April essay is one of the better short pieces I read presenting the traditionalist case for caution regarding contraception and reproductive technology.

Desire, Duty, and Dynamite

What binds together our attitudes toward sexuality and toward the created world is a concern with the natural order as God has made it. Loftus’s argument in this piece is an extended reflection on how our relationship to that order can go bad and what the consequences of that are.

May

Friends, Enemies, and the Anti-Christian Right

One of the primary arguments we have been making over the past year or two is that faithful Christians cannot easily align themselves with the old guard of the GOP or the new right populist wing. This essay by Dan DeCarlo does a great job of explaining why.

June

Book Review: Dignity by Chris Arnade

I reviewed one of my favorite books of the year back in June, trying to link Arnade’s work to some more general principles of political theology in the process.

The War of All Against One: Why Christians Should Not Be Populists

Justin Hawkins’ review of the work of Rene Girard is a strong argument for why Christians should not align themselves with right- or left-wing forms of populism.

July

The World We Have and the World We Want

Zach Holbrook’s essay on the Ahmari-French spat from this past summer is still one of the best things written about the debate.

Against Pop Culture

Brad East kicked up a bit of a hornet’s nest with this one. The argument is fairly simple though: Much of pop culture is, at best, a mindless distraction that can prudentially be used to help one relax but that should never be framed as anything more than that. You can read the whole thing and decide whether you agree.

Rise of the Titans: Fascism, Christianity, and the Seduction of the Brutal

Tara Isabella Burton’s debut piece for us was one of my favorites from this year. It is hard to summarize, but I’ll do my best: Burton is trying to understand the imaginative and aesthetic appeal of the far right and how Christians ought to respond.

A National Conservative Awakening

Yoram Hazony said that Brad Littlejohn’s summary of this summer’s National Conservatism Conference was amongst the best published. If you want to have a good handle on where the National Conservatism argument is right now, read it.

Jesus, Laughter, and the Bright Side of Life

Joe Minich wrote for us about laughter and how Jesus is portrayed in the Gospel.

Against the Political Atheists: On the Safety of the Dead Consensus

This was my assessment of the debate that happened this past summer over what a number of First Things writers called “the dead consensus.”

August

Possessed in America

Jon Askonas wrote about Dostoevsky’s novel Possessed and the epidemic of mass shootings in the US.

We’re All Truman Now: On Shoshanna Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Austin Gohn reviewed of one of the year’s most important books, Shoshanna Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.

October

Julián Marías: Philosophy of the Person

One of my three or four favorite pieces we published all year. It’s been occupying much of my thought ever since and in some way I think the ideas here will be central to much of what I’m doing in my next book.

Book Review: The Economist’s Hour by Binyamin Applebaum

John Thomas was one of our new contributors this year. He wrote several strong pieces for us. This was my favorite of his contributions.

Book Review: Beyond Authority and Submission by Rachel Green Miller

Critical book reviews play an important role in public debate by forcing the conversation to shift in certain necessary ways. Mark Jones’s review of a new book on gender roles is, I hope, an example of how negative reviews can be quite helpful.

There is No Wealth but Life: Rootedness in an Orphaned World

This was the paper I presented at the Front Porch Republic conference held earlier this year in Louisville.

The Joke’s on You: Why Leviathan Needs Joker

Michael Shindler’s sharp essay about Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is a bleak but arresting take on why a huge Hollywood studio would so eagerly promote a movie as disturbing as Joker.

An Intercourse with Ghosts: The Unabomber, Irony, and Terror

This essay by Scott Beauchamp takes several odd turns, but it builds on itself incredibly well. It’s one of the best constructed pieces we ran this year.

Happy Reformation Day, or, How Melanchthon Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Jesus

You should always read Eric Hutchinson writing about Melanchthon.

November

Anatomy of Glory

I love essays that take existing conversations, probe some of the underlying assumptions and ideas more closely, and then produce an idea or line of thought that dramatically complicates the debate and forces everyone back to first principles. This essay by Isabel Chenot is an example of how to do that kind of writing.

December

Martin Luther, the Rule of Faith, and the Bible

I’m going to be thinking about this deceptively simple essay for awhile. Todd Hains is an excellent Luther scholar and in this piece he explained how Luther thought about the work of catechesis and Christian discipleship.

Posted by Jake Meador

Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy and author of "In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World." He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell, Austin, and Ambrose. Jake's writing has appeared in Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play.