Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 in Review

I'm borrowing this format from a friend.

I. Worst Four Memories of 2009 (I've got mostly positive memories. I had to dig for some of these:
1. The feeling of discouragement in mid-June and July when a job possibility I was excited about fell through and it looked like nothing was going to work out on the job search front.
2. March 13th hearing that not only had I lost my job but that three other library co-workers had as well.
3. Watching the final winding down and break-up of the small group I'd been part of since 2000.
4. Hearing over the course of about an hour on Thanksgiving that my cousin Libby was very sick in the hospital and then that she was dead.

II. Best Eight Memories of 2009 (in no particular order):
1. Traveling with Kluths down to Kentucky so Tara and the kids could meet my parents.
2. Auditing the History of Middle Earth class at Trinity in the spring and always playing the orcs with Kurt in the simulation games.
3. Two moments of grace in late January. My confession being met with a word of God's love at an Encounter Worship service and a meeting that could have resulted in summary firing but turned into an offer of a second chance at work (even if I still lost the job a month and a half later)
4. Working on the Extreme Build house with Mom and Dad and lots of other great folks.
5. Standing by Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park with my friend Paul.
6. The Ole reunions at the Kluths' and at Spud and Sonny's.
7. 3 trips to Tennessee.
8. Singing the "500 Miles" song in the pub on the Riverwalk on Christmas Eve.

III. Four Biggest Accomplishments
1. Rewriting our church's constitution and bylaws.
2. Withdrawing and selling 600 of my books and cd's.
3. Reading the Bible through in the year.
4. Organizing at display at Trinity's library on Wisdom in the Movies to coincide with Christian Life Week

IV. Biggest Failures
1. Not fulfilling my pledge as part of the 2009 TCC Prayer Initiative. There were several elements. The only one I got close to was praying corporately every week.
2. Not getting much of anything done with my six months of free time.
3. Losing my job at Trinity. For the most part that wasn't a failure in 2009 and it may be that it would have happened anyway. Still it's hard to believe that if I had been a better organized and more efficient employee between 2006 and 2008 that I would have been on of those to go in 2009. That statement also shouldn't be taken to reflect on anybody else who lost their job at Trinity last year. I just think that the way my specific position developed into expendability was a result of my bad habits in previous years. It didn't have to develop that way.
4. The break-up of my small group. This is another one that may have happened anyway but things could have been different.

V. Favorite 4 Movies seen in the theatre in 2009:
1. Coraline
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
3. District 9
4. Avatar
*Watchmen gets a note for being my favorite soundtrack and A Serious Man for being my favorite non-animated, non-sci fi/fantasy/adventure movie

VI. Favorite 5 Non-fiction books read in 2009
1. Planet Narnia : The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Michael Ward - Discusses the medieval idea of the planets in Lewis' thought and fiction, especially as an interpretive key to the Chronicles. The idea sounds farfetched but Ward makes a very strong and fascinating argument.
2. The Figure of Beatrice : A Study in Dante by Charles Williams - Williams discusses the influence of the Dante's idea of Beatrice throughout his poetry and philosophy and highlights the importance of the affirmation of images in theology and art.
3. The Language of God : A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis Collins - The director of the human genome project presents a reason for the hope that is in him and for the union of faith and science, particularly evolutionary science.
4. The Purifying Power of Living by Faith in Future Grace by John Piper - Piper encourages us to let ourselves be transformed by the power of God's promises.
5. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Bonhoeffer's interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount and what it means to follow Jesus.

VII. 5 Favorite Fiction Books read in 2009
1. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman - Gaimans tragic graphic novel story of Dream, the king of dreams, and his family that twists and twines many different mythologies and creates some new ones of its own leading to end and rebirth.
2. The Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones - The story of a runaway serf and his son in 14th century Barcelona set against the background of the building of a church by the piety of the people. Probably my favorite scene in any book this year is where the boy becomes a man carrying a huge stone from the quarry to the church.
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - I hated this in high school and gave up after the first chapter. I could/can be an arrogant punk. I'm old enough for it now and it was a beautiful sad story.
4. Anathem by Neal Stephenson - The story of monastic mathematicians on another world coming to terms with alien life while marrying platonic ideas and modern math and science. A good long story filled with interesting ideas.
5. The Diamond Age, or A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson - An exciting story set in a not too distant future of nano-technology and distributed political economy. Once again, adventure combined with lots of interesting ideas. Stephenson's Snow Crash and Baroque Cycle were some of my favorites from 2008 as well.
6. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami - Way surreal. A teenaged Japanese runaway tries to find himself while living in strange library. An old man who can talk to cats embarks on a strange quest across Japan accompanied by a puzzled truck driver. I really liked this book for its evocative imagery and the idea of living in a library.

VIII. Favorite Fiction/Non-fiction hybrid book of 2009
1. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri translated and edited by Dorothy Sayers and Barbara Reynolds (Sayers died before she could finish her translation and notes on Paradiso)- I read Inferno and parts of Purgatory and Paradise in College and was unenthused. When I revisited the Comedy this year I was blown away by the power of Dante's imagery and his vision of the Christian life. This experience was only enhanced by Sayers' notes and comments on the imagery and its function as an allegory of Christian life.

IX. 4 Goals for 2010 (I've got lots of these but here are 4)
1. Read through the Chronological Study Bible.
2. Pray daily.
3. Find a new job or permanent position at Northwestern by the end of August (or at least have made a pro-active good faith effort to do so).
4. Write a short story.

X. Song of 2009: "Blessed Be Your Name" by Matt Redman
This is the song that meant the most to me last year and that I hope to live in the spirit of in 2010 as well,

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name


Tooz said...

Great read, Everett. Love you.

Lydia said...

DItto to mom's comment. Also, A very meaningful worship song for me, as well.

Everett, you are way too smart for me to understand sometimes. Hard to believe we came from the same blood line. But I am glad that we did. You are a wonderful brother and friend. You certainly haven't failed there! Thank you for visiting us when you can and for the sacrifices you make to do so. By the way, you are also super uncle! I love you, Bubba!

Tara said...

I still can't make it through "Blessed" without tearing up. Started after we lost the twins and there is always an example of "you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name" sitting within a few rows of me.

Last night? A mommy bouncing her adopted daughter on her knee while simultaneously mourning the recent loss of her unborn baby. And a similar story sitting right down the row from her.

I have never been able to sing every word of that song!

And also, honored to have made a "Best of 2009" post!