As you probably know, this was our first year to blog, and we have been pleasantly surprised with all the attention and activity our posts have drawn. Thanks for reading and, if applicable, posting comments. It’s been a blast. To close out the year we decided to do our first joint-post. Where our opinions differ, we’ve included separate entries.
Best Film Experiences:
- Amy: Lars and the Real Girl—This is a sweet and original movie with great performances. I don’t know if it was my ultimate favorite for the year, but like those who vote for the Oscars I sometimes suffer from long-term memory loss with regard to movies.
- Jim: Born into Brothels—Yes, it was made in 2004, but I didn’t see it until this past year. What a remarkable display of the life-changing power of art. Inspiring and heart-rending. And, while I’m on the subject of documentaries, I’ll recommend one that was released in 2008: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed—Who would have thought that the ID perspective could be so entertaining? To the critics who panned it as “propaganda,” I say you’re only proving Ben Stein’s point!
Worst Film Experiences:
- Amy: Tropic Thunder—I cannot say anything derogatory regarding the performances, but this movie made me feel like I needed to take multiple showers afterward. I will never listen to the recommendation of a Blockbuster employee again.
- Jim: Bobby—This film has more contrived scenes than an episode of Baywatch (and almost as much cleavage), and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie with such self-conscious directing.
Best Musical Experiences of the Year:
- Amy: Sara Bareilles’ Little Voice—This is my soundtrack when hanging on by a thin thread. Just crank it up and feel a few decades younger (until the children find you, that is).
- Jim: The Killers’ Day and Age, Bob Dylan’s Tell-Tale Signs, and a half-dozen different albums by the most underrated band in rock history: The Kinks.
Favorite Songs of the Year:
- Amy: “Human” from the Killers’ Day and Age. It’s the only song whose entire lyrics I have learned since we started having kids, with the exception of “Yahweh” by U2. Both are daily offered up as prayers of desperation as I cruise the back roads of Indiana in a mini-van that sounds like an airplane struggling to take off.
- Jim: “Red River Shore” from Dylan’s Tell-Tale Signs. This song is one of the Bobster’s most poignant ever. It will break your heart in more ways than you can count. Thank you, God, for endowing this man with such creative genius. Amen.
Best Sports Moment of the Year: Brankle Construction’s championship in the Upland Coaches’ Pitch Baseball League. There were plenty of life-lessons to go around as Brankle (Bailey’s team, coached by Jim) dramatically triumphed over the haughty and hitherto undefeated Pratt Construction team in the playoff semi-final—essentially a little league baseball version of the Giants-Pats Super Bowl.
Worst Sports Moments of the Year: The Detroit Lions dubious record-breaking 0-16 season. They’ve set the mark for futility. Now let’s see if they can set the mark for biggest single-season turnaround.
Most Satisfying Read of the Year:
- Amy: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Gaskell takes social justice issues, adds insightful cultural observations, and wraps it all up in a beautiful love story.
- Jim: Degenerate Moderns by E. Michael Jones. Jones’ provocative (and well-argued) thesis is that modernism (e.g., Rousseau’s political philosophy, Margaret Mead’s cultural anthropology, Freud’s psychology, and even Picasso’s artistic vision), was the result of rationalized sexual misbehavior. While he can be overweening at times, Jones can also be profoundly insightful.
Political High Point of the Year: The election of Barack Obama as U.S. President.
Political Low Point of the Year: The election of Barack Obama as U.S. President.
Most Preposterous News Event of the Year: The “pregnant man” story. Only in a culture where a significant minority believes that gender can be socially (or physiologically) constructed could such a claim pass as anything but a joke or an abuse of language (or both). Its yet another confirmation of Richard Weaver’s thesis that the demise of Western culture begain with the rejection of essences.
Recurrent Theological Theme of the Year:
- Amy: When you ask God to deliver you from difficult circumstances, it doesn’t mean He will beam-you-up-Scotty. Rather, He will preserve you through the storm. As hymnist John Keith put it, “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, my grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply; the flame shall not harm thee; I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine” (“How Firm a Foundation”).
- Jim: The importance of maintaining high regard for the classical Christian creeds (especially the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds) and the imprudence of treating disputable theological issues as if they were creedal.
Most Satisfying Shared Experience of the Year: At least when it comes to the professional aspect of our relationship, it was definitely doing this blog together.
- Amy: I love you, honey-bunny.
- Jim: I love you, too, honey-bunny.
New Year’s Resolutions (regarding Wisdom and Folly):
- Amy: 1) to explore less of my mommy-can-you-get-me-a-drink side and more of my I-read-interesting-books-and-watch-artsy-foreign-films side and 2) to leave more room in my opinions for respectful disagreement with those I respect and an escape hatch that offers the option of (gasp) changing my mind.
- Jim: 1) to explore atheism as a philosophical and psychological phenomenon and 2) to continue to do my best to overlook insulting, patronizing, or condescending comments on our posts, while resisting the temptation to delete them! Thankfully, there were very few of these (among the hundreds submitted). Nearly all reader comments were constructive, even when critical. Thank you! And to all of you, may God bless you with a healthy and happy (in the Aristotelian sense of eudaimonia) year in 2009!
While I appreciate much about this list, I am particularly pleased to see Born Into Brothels on your “best” list. Hopefully people who have yet to see it will as a result of your recommendation (and I’m seconding it, as though your first was not enough).
We (Pat and I) like reading your blog. (I’m sure the kids will, too, when they’re older.) Thanks for putting it together. It’s inspiring me to make a resolution akin to Amy’s about my own blog (though I don’t read a lot or watch a lot of movies). It’s been a good year on Wisdom and Folly.
E. Michael Jones is one of the brightest kooks I have ever met. I have not read Degenrate Moderns but I have read Monsters From the Id. When we brought him to Taylor to speak he horrified us with his ideas about aids being completely psychological and other lunatic fringe notions. Again, brilliant mind, but whoa!
Sorry that you saw Marley & Me. :(. I only go to the theater about 3 times a year now because that is all I can really say seems worth $7.50. Slumdog Millionaire (for adults) looks promising, though.
That’s a harsh indictment of Jones. Everyone (who is an independent thinker) no doubt has some odd views of some kind. But that doesn’t make us “kooks.” Reading Degenerate Moderns, I have found nothing “kooky,” though Jones is sometimes brash or (as I say) overweening in his claims. I’d love to hear your take on that book.
I’m sorry I missed his talk at Taylor and I have to say that I’m dubious about your report regarding his take on AIDS (because its so utterly preposterous). Can you corroborate that? Is it possible that you and/or others misconstrued what he was saying somehow? If its true, then this raises an interesting psycho-epistemological question: To what extent, if at all, does one wacky belief undermine one’s (especially a scholar’s) general trustworthiness? And may a person who holds a patently absurd belief still be considered “brilliant” on the whole? Food for thought.
Even further, Jim, what value should be placed on general trustworthiness of the scholar, at least in examining specific arguments. Should not any individual argument or thesis of the scholar stand or fall based on its own merits, not merely the merits of the scholar? And I think, unless I misunderstand how patently absurd is being used, we must say that is perfectly possible to be brilliant and hold an absurd belief. Since, isn’t it often that the most brilliant men throughout history (often only recognized in hindsight) are those who held beliefs believed to be absurd at the time they dared to think them?