Select Page

The Best of 2017

I began 2017 with a confession about 2016: I was a grump that year. And, I entered 2017 committed to being less consumed by the scandal du jour and more consumed by the people and places closest to me.  And, I’m happy to report 2017 was a much better year. Though 2017 was difficult, of course, it was filled with untold joys, adventures, new places, and books. It was replete with making new memories with people I love and shaped by new habits and routines.
Here are a few of my favorites from the past year:
Best new book: Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch. No book shaped our family more this year. Crouch helped us “put technology in its proper place.” We haven’t torched our phones and laptops, but we have established much better boundaries. Because of this book, we watch far less television, keep our phones in their “parking spots” when we are at home and are much more cognizant of technology’s insidiousness.
Best not new book:  The Chronicles of NarniaWe read this series aloud to our kids before bed. And, we all loved it. Eustace, Reepicheep, and Jill Pole captivated our imaginations and pointed us to the big story unfolding all around us.
Best articles: In 2018 and beyond, parental advisory warnings may need to preface news broadcasts. Vulgarity dominated 2017. From politicians to celebrities, each day brought new ugliness about men abusing their power. These stories create an environment for Christians to reimagine how we might practice our faith and serve our neighbors. Two articles I read in early 2017 framed the moment. The first, a New Yorker profile on Russell Moore by Kelefah Sanneh, painted the opportunity for the church to embrace the posture of a prophetic minority. The second, an essay written by Wesley Hill in Comment, offered a challenging invitation for Christians to rediscover our call to hospitality.
Best new habit: I read Deep Work this year with my coworkers. And, Newport’s research struck just the right tone for our modern work environment. He names the ways our always-available work culture drives us toward shallow and unfulfilling hamster wheeling and away from deep, meaningful work. Because of the book, my team has instituted “deep work Fridays” where email, instant messaging, meetings, and social media are strongly discouraged, allowing us the space to think and work deeply.
Best movie: Hidden Figures hit all the right notes. It beautifully wove together themes of vocation, race, virtue, and faith. And, it featured a killer soundtrack. The character who made me laugh hardest this year was the affable narcissist, Batman (Will Arnett), who starred in Lego Batman.
Best story you haven’t heard: One of the best parts of my job is reading the annual “Thurman Award” nominees. These stories–submitted by our staff from the 900,000+ men and women we serve across the world–remind me of all the things that are going right in the world. This year’s winner, Savera, is one of those heroes who won’t make news headlines but should. Formerly homeless, Savera now employs 50 people in farming, construction, and real estate businesses. With her success, she’s adopted eight orphans, she pays for her vulnerable neighbors’ school fees, and has built clean water wells for her neighbors.