As is our custom, we’re going to be doing some year-end wrap ups over the next couple weeks. I’ll have this year’s Eliot Awards up later in the week, God-willing. For now, here’s a run down of the best of Mere O in 2021.
I want to make special mention first to the folks behind “Mere Fidelity”, “Passages”, and “Sacred Season.” These three shows, so far, make up the Mere O podcast network and each is worth checking out.
We kicked the year off with a piece from me on the gift of encountering Christians who weren’t really evangelical:
I also wrote a follow-up on what I meant by “white evangelical crap.” In some ways it’s a counterpart to Derek’s old essay on the progressive evangelical package. Turns out, there’s a conservative white evangelical package too:
It was also in January, as the COVID vaccine was rapidly becoming available to more people, that Matthew Loftus wrote for us about fetal cell lines and vaccines:
Finally, January also saw the publication of this essay from Yale PhD student Justin Hawkins, which is one of my favorite things we’ve ever published:
In February, Colorado pastor Chase Davis wrote for us about the challenges of evangelization and outreach in a post-liberal cultural moment:
Kings College professor Anthony Bradley explained why critical race theory shouldn’t be a problem for Presbyterians or other confessional denominations:
Policy writer Patrick Brown wrote for us about the various child tax credit plans on the table shortly after President Biden’s inauguration, explaining why Sen. Mitt Romney’s was the best:
Wycliffe College PhD student James Wood wrote about the lessons we can learn about suffering as we endured the long COVID-19 pandemic:
Davenant Hall student Rhys Laverty wrote a delightful piece for us about the common trend in modern storytelling about Heaven to imagine the afterlife as a vast bureaucracy:
Dr. Brewer Eberly wrote for us in March about social class as understood by The Office:
College pastor Ryan McCormick wrote for us about the rapidly diminishing horizons for male friendship:
Classical school teacher Michael St. Thomas wrote about the challenges of helping screen-addled students practice contemplation:
Abilene Christian University professor Brad East reviewed one of the year’s best books for us, Tish Harrison Warren’s marvelous Prayer in the Night. I’m rapidly coming to the view that Tish is Tim Keller’s literary heir. I know few writers who can distill so much reading into such accessible works. That’s always been one of Keller’s greatest strengths and it is one of Tish’s as well.
Ian Olson wrote one of our most probing and wide-ranging essays this year as he reflected on Marcion, supersessionism, and the fraught relationship between Christians and Jews:
Finally, Davenant Institute president Brad Littlejohn wrote a two-part series for us marking the one-year anniversary of COVID-19’s arrival in America. Both parts are well worth your time. Brad has, in my view, been one of the church’s most responsible commentators on the pandemic:
Classical school teacher Stephen G. Adubato used The Crown as a launching pad for a rich reflection on the danger when Christianity becomes linked to social ideals of respectability:
Colorado pastor Brad Edwards wrote about the church’s task as it exists amongst a growing number of counter-institutions in the contemporary west:
Queens University professor Ana Siljak, with the help of several Russian literary figures, wrote the best thing I’ve ever read about purity culture:
Dr. Eberly returned to interview Dr. Lydia Dugdale about dying well:
Benjamin Woollard reflected on water and what it can teach us about God:
United Theological Seminary professor Justus Hunter reviewed a new monograph on the unjustly neglected late medieval theologian Thomas Cajetan:
Washington DC-based writer Tessa Carman reviewed a new memoir about Jane Austen, exploring what the author did and didn’t seem to understand about the iconic English novelist:
Every Nation Seminary professor William Murrell wrote about the idea of “critical theory as mood” in hopes of helping bring greater clarity to the ongoing debate about critical theory:
On a related note, Matthew Loftus wrote about why so many of our concepts for talking about race are both somewhat limited in their value and necessary for helping us name some of the evils that have persisted in American history:
Lawyer Timon Cline wrote an enormously helpful piece on theonomy and the Mosaic Law which also doubled as a primer on the classical Christian approach to law.
Executive pastor Michael Graham and Skylar Flowers wrote one of the most significant pieces Mere Orthodoxy has ever published as they diagnosed the splits opening up within evangelicalism and discussed what those splits could mean for evangelical congregations:
Philadelphia-based writer Bill Melone wrote about the problem of assimilation:
Anglican theologian Brandon Meeks wrote a prolegomena for poetry:
Illinois-area pastors Bob Stevenson and Josh Fenska wrote about the church’s recent failure to disciple her members well and how the thin discipleship that has resulted from this failure has harmed the church:
Hillsdale College professor E. J. Hutchinson shared a new translation he had done of a poem by Phillip Melanchthon about the visitation of Mary and explained some of what Melanchthon is doing in the poem.
Pastor Stevenson also wrote for us about Voddie Baucham’s popular bestseller Faultlines:
TGC Canada editor Wyatt Graham considered the place of the magistrate in traditional Christian thought and asked if the government is an ally or antagonist relative to the church.
Davenant Press editor Onsi A. Kamel argued that the American right’s strategy on immigration these days will have an undesired consequence: New immigrants will no longer think they can become American or even, necessarily want to make that transformation:
Yale student Nathan Jowers wrote a lovely essay for us on laughter, divine simplicity, and comedy:
Canadian writer Daniel Dorman speculated about what Chesterton would make of contemporary debates surrounding critical theory:
Brad East reviewed Rodney Clapp’s latest book:
Matthew Loftus wrote about the ongoing debate about the COVID-19 vaccines and why “biopolitics” can’t be avoided:
Onsi A. Kamel reviewed Kanye’s latest album and explained why it is all about piety:
October was one of the most significant months in our history so far, as we launched our first ever print edition. You can read my introductory letter below and use the Issue 1 tag to access everything from the first edition:
Ian Olson wrote about why enchantment is passé and spookiness is awesome:
Matthew Loftus wrote a helpful primer on some increasingly common psychological concepts, including trauma, attachment, and self-care:
Daniel Dorman used Dickens and Dostoevsky as the basis for his consideration of anxiety:
I wrote a couple pieces in November about where I see the faultlines opening up in American evangelicalism and why the liberalism debate has ended in such disappointment and failure:
“Passages” writer Josh Heavin made the case for paid family leave, situating it within a broader reflection on parenting and the good life:
Paul D. Miller wrote about social science, the deconstruction meme, and why we would do well to listen to the historians: