December 2, 2020

I Simply Remember My Favorite Things (2011)

Today, we feature another end of the year retrospective.

In this one I list some of my favorite posts from 2011, the ones I enjoyed writing and discussing most. In the process, I’m able to touch on other “favorites” during the year — books, movies, etc.

Again, much thanks is due you, our iMonk audience, for supporting me as I share and discuss the things I love.

Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of my favorite pieces from the past year:

  • Fear Not, Little Flock (Jan 18) — Reflections about my first church, which were prompted by an opportunity to preach in an old, beautiful church building near our home in central Indiana.
  • A Letter from Gilead (Feb 14) — I was awestruck by the translucent prose in Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Gilead, and moved by its story and characters. In this post, I tried (poorly, I’m sure) to imitate her style in a letter recommending this marvelous book.
  • IM Book Review — The Pastor: A Memoir (Mar 15) — Another book review: this time I talked about my favorite writer on the pastor’s life and vocation, who told his story in this remarkable memoir. The Pastor: A Memoir is a must read for anyone who wants to consider the foundational perspectives and practices of Christian ministry.
  • Demythologizing “Radical” Christianity: Part 1 and Part 2) (Apr 19/20) — Reflecting on some articles by Skye Jethani, in these posts I talked about how I’m ready to start a “Remove the Adjectives” campaign to protest the addition of any description to my calling as a follower of Christ. I am a Christian. Period.
  • My Last Post…Ever! (May 20) — As the saints prepared to ascend heaven’s stairway and leave the earth in its distress and disarray, there was only one thing left to say…“So long. Farewell. Aufwiedersehn, Goodnight…” to Harold Camping.
  • IM Film Review: The Tree of Life (June 26) — It is hard to call The Tree of Life simply my favorite movie of the year. It was, for me, an artistic, contemplative experience, a reliving of the experiences of my own boyhood in small town America and what it all means in the big picture. Terence Malick ambitiously frames his impressionistic family tale of nature vs. grace with remarkable visions of creation and the eschaton, combining transcendence and immanence with unforgettable cinematic beauty. “Awe” is not too strong a word to describe my reaction.
  • My View of Scripture (at this point) (July 29) — One of the ongoing matters for discussion on Internet Monk is the Bible: what kind of a book is it, how do we read and understand it, how do we approach its teachings and instructions? Here is a simple, ten-point summary of my perspective on Scripture (at this point in my understanding).
  • Wednesday Morning (Aug 31) — This is a recap of one of the most intense and draining periods I’ve ever experienced as a hospice chaplain. “Be the God of all comfort to us, help us to know and feel your presence at this time. Help us to believe your promise that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ.”
  • The Order of Christian Worship (Sept 1) — In this post, I try to summarize the basic distinctions between liturgical worship and revivalist services, arguing that a basic historic order has been the common practice of the church from the days of the apostles and apostolic fathers, and that it provides the best pattern for truly Christian worship.
  • Sabbatical (October) — Thanks to all who gave extra time so that I could have a time of rest and refreshment.
  • Close to the Fire (Nov 6) — This is the fifth and final installment of my “Gethsemani Journal,” in which I meditate on how “the monks are a sign to the church and to the world, [and] that places like Gethsemani are an exhibit of life’s foundations.”
  • Carl (Dec 12) — This is a reflection about  how a young minister learned “that just dropping by, having a cup of coffee, showing a bit of kindness, and sitting for awhile could make a real difference for somebody. Who knew? And that a pastor, even a young and clueless one, can represent the gracious, healing Word of God to hurting people. And that pastors are made by means we would seldom choose and might never imagine.”

• • •

I can’t wait to continue sharing with you in 2012!


  1. Demythologizing “Radical” Christianity: Chaplain Mike ~ this one I REMEMBER. Reading it again here I had the same response of actual physical fatigue that I had when I first read it. I had good friends visit at Christmas and they told me that they too have left the mega-church that I left after over 20 years. They said that if the pastor used the word “intentional” one more time they would get up and walk out. Now that I have “been away” from all of that in my life looking back it sort of seems like a nightmare in some respects. I even noticed on the websites of some of the “famous churches/pastors” there is so much info packed onto the home page it is insane. Not for me, only for the “young and the rest-less”. Which is really strange when you think that their leader said, “Come unto me and I will give you REST.” I am getting too old to be a Hyper Christian.

    • “Come unto me and I will give you REST.” I am getting too old to be a Hyper Christian.”

      I’m with you, Adrienne.


      Chaplain Mike,

      Thanks for a great year of blogging by you and Jeff and all the other contributors here at the Imonk.

      – steve

    • +1

  2. For me, it was a tie between the June 29 Allen Krell guest post and CM’s November 18 post — both dealing with the “theology of the cross.” As I said back in November, that theology is like a master-cleanse for my Pentecostal-turned-outsider soul. Hoping to pursue the depths of it further in the coming year.

    And a couple of days ago, I was FINALLY (thank you, Netflix) able to see The Tree of Life, and it was everything it was advertised. It’s also in a tie, for the best movie I saw this year (with Hugo; The Muppets is a close third).

    Thank you for being here, iMonks — see you in 2012!

    • Ray ~ the Muppets was good but if you want a full-blown, “Lassie Come Home”, tear jerker and truly wonderful story you have to see “War Horse.” Beautiful story that just fills the screen with beauty and horror at the same time. Age-old theme of the strength of love, friendship and commitment. Take kleenex.

  3. Thanks for it all. Many blessings and a happy new year!

  4. David Cornwell says

    Chaplain Mike, the past year has been a pleasure. Finding writing that is beyond the ordinary has become a welcome daily opportunity. Best wishes to you and Gail as 2012 unfolds.

  5. God bless all you guys.

  6. Chaplin Mike if a month long sabbatical produced some of the posts you have written. I am all for giving you a year long sabbatical!! 🙂 We would do fine while you are recharging your batteries and eagerly looking forward to your posts!!

  7. For me it’s been an interesting year. Lot of pain, lot of uncertainty and deep doubt that still weighs so heavy. Its been a dark time in life. I’m going on my third year of exiting the Christian system and yet I really don’t like it. But I also look at my choices and I can’t accept them either. So while I am stuck, I’ve done the following….

    1. Stayed up late at night reading blogs like the Internet Monk and Wartburg Watch hoping I will get my answers.
    2. Laid in bed at night just thinking about the problem of evil or the issue of pain and suffering and asking myself. How could I have gone from exploring Mormonism to drinking the fundagelical kool-aide?
    3. Reading and re-reading Philip Yancey books.
    4. Continued discussions with a couple of friends in the DC area about faith. As much as I love bogs having discussions in person is much, much better.
    5. I tried 2 evangelical churches this past year. One was legalistic and I never returned. And another one was warm, and small. I’ve been chewing on whether or not this could be a place where I could wrestle with my doubts or not. Part of me is frightened, yet part of me is anxious. In most fundy places you can’t discuss the deep difficult stuff. That’s what is holding me back. The sudden church show up however did lead to a friendship which has been a blessing.
    6. Continued reading of agnostic and atheist material. I still read a lot and read many atheist websites ( There is some good atheist material on Youtube which I am still chewing on.
    7. I did solve the problem (or at least came to an understanding…) of why man’s sin is linked to Adam. So since that “a-ha” moment I haven’t looked back.
    8. The problem of evil continues to kick my butt. The other day I put down the newspaper and couldn’t bear to read. I also checked out MSNBC on my Android and read about the murder and dismemberment of a young child in a trailer park in Indiana. I closed the website and put down the Android. But with news stories like this…

    How can more Christians not wonder and ask…is God in control? Why does an omniscient God allow a father to execute his family on Christmas day? Why doesn’t the problem of evil bother more people? I just don’t get it….

    (sigh…) Maybe 2012 will be a better year. It certainly will be without one less major question.