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.

January

We kicked the year off with a piece from me on the gift of encountering Christians who weren’t really evangelical:

After Evangelicalism

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:

Defining “White Evangelical Crap”

In January we also ran a symposium on Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s bestselling Jesus and John Wayne with contributions from Sean Michael Lucas, Jamie Carlson, and Kirsten Sanders.

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:

That Others May Live: Fetal Cell Lines and Vaccine Production

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:

Dignity Beyond Accomplishment

February

In February, Colorado pastor Chase Davis wrote for us about the challenges of evangelization and outreach in a post-liberal cultural moment:

Missiology After Liberalism

Kings College professor Anthony Bradley explained why critical race theory shouldn’t be a problem for Presbyterians or other confessional denominations:

Critical Race Theory Isn’t a Threat for Presbyterians

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:

Explainer: Three Strategies for Family Policy Reform

Wycliffe College PhD student James Wood wrote about the lessons we can learn about suffering as we endured the long COVID-19 pandemic:

Surprised by Suffering: God’s Megaphone to Technocratic Man

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:

Kafka in Heaven: “Soul” and the After Life as Bureaucracy

March

Dr. Brewer Eberly wrote for us in March about social class as understood by The Office:

Pam Against Posturing: On the Michael Scott Theory of Social Class

College pastor Ryan McCormick wrote for us about the rapidly diminishing horizons for male friendship:

Third Places and the Horizons of Male Friendships

Classical school teacher Michael St. Thomas wrote about the challenges of helping screen-addled students practice contemplation:

Contemplative Pedagogy: Notes on Educating Screen-Addled Students

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.

To See God in the Darkness: On Tish Harrison Warren’s “Prayer in the Night”

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:

Marcion’s “Gift”

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:

COVID-19, One Year On, Pt. I: Threnody for a Buried Nation

Covid-19, One Year On, Pt II: The Limits of Politics

 

April

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:

The Danger of Respectable Christianity

Colorado pastor Brad Edwards wrote about the church’s task as it exists amongst a growing number of counter-institutions in the contemporary west:

The Church Amongst the Counter-Institutions

Queens University professor Ana Siljak, with the help of several Russian literary figures, wrote the best thing I’ve ever read about purity culture:

Purity Culture

May

Dr. Eberly returned to interview Dr. Lydia Dugdale about dying well:

A Conversation with Lydia Dugdale, MD: “The Lost Art of Dying”

Benjamin Woollard reflected on water and what it can teach us about God:

Water is a Single Substance

United Theological Seminary professor Justus Hunter reviewed a new monograph on the unjustly neglected late medieval theologian Thomas Cajetan:

Review: Cajetan on Sacred Doctrine by Hieromonk Gregory Hrynkiw

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:

The Austen Years: A Review in Six Movements

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:

Critical Theory as Method, Metanarrative, and Mood

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:

Racism and Whiteness: Bad Words We Have to Live With

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.

What Theonomy Gets Wrong About the Law

June

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:

The Six Way Fracturing of Evangelicalism

Philadelphia-based writer Bill Melone wrote about the problem of assimilation:

Cultural Assimilation and the Curious Cases of Jessica Krug and Rachel Dolezal

Anglican theologian Brandon Meeks wrote a prolegomena for poetry:

Prolegomena to 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:

Thin Discipleship

July

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.

Mary’s Visitation in the Present Tense

Pastor Stevenson also wrote for us about Voddie Baucham’s popular bestseller Faultlines:

Book Review: “Faultlines” by Voddie Baucham

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.

Government: Ally or Antagonist?

August

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:

We Became American: Why the Right is Wrong about Afghan Refugees

Yale student Nathan Jowers wrote a lovely essay for us on laughter, divine simplicity, and comedy:

Laughter and Simplicity: Why Didn’t the Monad Cross the Road?

Canadian writer Daniel Dorman speculated about what Chesterton would make of contemporary debates surrounding critical theory:

The Maniac and the Theorist: Chesterton on Critical Theory

Brad East reviewed Rodney Clapp’s latest book:

Market Apocalypse

September

Matthew Loftus wrote about the ongoing debate about the COVID-19 vaccines and why “biopolitics” can’t be avoided:

“Biopolitics” Are Unavoidable

Onsi A. Kamel reviewed Kanye’s latest album and explained why it is all about piety:

Kanye the Pious

October

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:

Introducing Mere Orthodoxy #1: Fall 2021

Ian Olson wrote about why enchantment is passé and spookiness is awesome:

Forget “Enchantment”: In Praise of the Spooky

November

Matthew Loftus wrote a helpful primer on some increasingly common psychological concepts, including trauma, attachment, and self-care:

Trauma, Attachment, and Self-Care: What Everyone Should Know

Daniel Dorman used Dickens and Dostoevsky as the basis for his consideration of anxiety:

Portraits of Anxiety in Dostoevsky and Dickens

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:

Ecclesial Realignment After the Culture Wars

 

The End of the Liberalism Debate

“Passages” writer Josh Heavin made the case for paid family leave, situating it within a broader reflection on parenting and the good life:

The Cost of Nurture

December

Paul D. Miller wrote about social science, the deconstruction meme, and why we would do well to listen to the historians:

The Role of Social Science in ‘Deconstructing’ White Evangelicalism

 

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Posted by Jake Meador

Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy. 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 and he has written or contributed to several books, including "In Search of the Common Good," "What Are Christians For?" (both with InterVarsity Press), "A Protestant Christendom?" (with Davenant Press), and "Telling the Stories Right" (with the Front Porch Republic Press).

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