Theology - Sinead O'Connor (female)
I never thought I would say Sinead O'Connor would put out the best album of the year, but her lyrics were so thoughtful, so compelling and so articulate.
In Rainbows - Radiohead (male)
I've just recently been turned on to these guys, but I like how they have created a new genre of music and have blazed new trails in music, oftentimes rewriting the rules of how the music industry operates.
Best Female Artist: Dolores O'Riordan
Former lead singer for the Cranberries (another personal favorite) Irishwoman O'Riordan put out her first solo album Are You Listening? Great album. I never tire of listening to it.
Best Male Artist: Matisyahu
Another genre-busting artist. This practicing Jew puts out reggae albums that are tasteful and incredibly creative in both style and writing.
Best Song: A New Law (Derek Webb)
The thoughtfulness and conviction with which Derek writes is refreshing. He says it like it is and challenges us to think about how often we can become Pharisees without even knowing it.
Best Documentary for Social Change: God Grew Tired of Us
This documentary follows around a few young men who leave their culture in Africa (where they have never even seen electricity) and are brought to live in Pittsburgh. You'll laugh and cry. It's heart-wrenching and pretty funny, but ends hopeful.
Best Biographical Documentary: Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor
I knew it would be informational about the life of Mr Rogers and Mr Rogers' neighborhood, but this surprised me with how emotional it was. Put out by PBS after Fred Rogers died, it pays tribute to a wonderful man.
Best Action: Bourne Ultimatum
Matt Damon is great. The Bourne trilogy is one of my favorites.
Best Drama: Pursuit of Happyness
Megan and I watched this on a date just a week after Carter was born, so when Will Smith plays the role of a deeply loyal father based on a true story, I cried like, well...a baby.
Best Indie Film: A Mighty Heart
This independent film based on the story of journalist Daniel Pearl's murder was very well done (Angelina Jolie did a great job acting) but it wasn't overdone.
Best Film That's Been Out a While: (tie) Amadeus and Gandhi
No wonder both of these won Academy Awards.
Best show: The Office
No question. Hands down. The only show that Megan and I watch. Please...end the strike in Hollywood soon. We miss you, Dwight. (That's what she said).
Best book of the Bible I studied this year: Ecclesiastes
The series we did on Ecclesiastes this fall was the most enjoyable and personally challenging series I've ever taught. Loved the book, loved the study, loved the discussion with others about it. The Professor's honest wrestling and gut-wrenching questions really hit home for me personally.
Best Academic Book: Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf
Very heady (definitely not a light read) but it is the clearest explanation of grace and the gospel.
Best Spiritual Formation Book: Embracing Grace by Scot McKnight
I love anything by Scot McKnight, but this is my favorite McKnight book. A great understanding of the gospel and our role in it as cracked eikons. Well done, Scot.
Best Business Book: Make to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
In the same category as Malcolm Gladwell's books Blink and The Tipping Point, this book is well researched, well written, engaging, practical and includes a lot of stories of "sticky" thoughts, ideas and campaigns - and why they worked.
Best Memoir: The Year I Got Everything I Wanted by Cameron Conant
An Ecclesiastical life journey for a young twentysomething asking tough, but significant questions about life.
Book That Challenged Me the Most in How I Lead and Serve as a Pastor: (tie)
Fresh Faith by Jim Cymbala
This book challenged me deeply regarding the role of prayer and dependence upon the Spirit. Cymbala is a simple, but deeply faithful pastor who has strong convictions of dependence upon prayer. Very challenging...I needed it.
The Unnecessary Pastor by Eugene Peterson and Marva Dawn
Of course, anything by Peterson is up for a "Best Of" award. Understanding the "unnecessary" job I have as a pastor was hard to read, but important to grasp.
WORLD WIDE WEB CATEGORY:
Best website: Chipotle
If you think the website is good, wait until you have one of their steak burritos. (NOTE: Now three locations in the Philly area...finally).
Best Blog (serious): John Frye's Jesus the Radical Pastor
Great thoughts. I like how this guy thinks.
Best Blog (humor): Marko's blog
I sometimes wonder if Marko really does any work or if he just travels and creates funny links to his blog.
Best podcast: Pray-As-You-Go
A 12 minute podcast that is updated every weekday by the Jesuit community in the U.K. Very contemplative and lectio divina-ish. I listen it to every morning on my way in to work. [Find it on iTunes podcasts by typing in "pray as you go."] It's worth utilizing regularly in our culture of noise, rush and efficiency.
First place: January 3: the day Carter was born
Second place: September 26: Carter's adoption finalization hearing)
Third place: October 14: Officiating my brother's wedding in Colorado Springs
Best/Most Fitting Quote for Us This Year: Walter Brueggemann
"The world for which you have been so carefully prepared is being taken away from you by the grace of God."