This has been quite the year. Unlike in years past, I didn’t read many books and didn’t watch many movies. As such, my end-of-year list can’t include my normal fare of favorite books & movies. But there were plenty of other areas of my life that deserve to be on a list. So here are the most important experiences I had in 2012, in chronological order.
Writing Genesis for Normal People — About 5 years ago I took a few Ph.D. seminars on Exodus and Old Testament Theology with an intimidating and sarcastic German who wore dark socks with sandals and thought nothing of it. Three years ago we became friends after I invited him to speak at the church where I was pastor. And in January of 2012 Pete Enns allowed me to partner with him to write a book on Genesis for Patheos Press. I am grateful that he allowed me to write in my own way and am grateful that we share the same sense of humor. But most importantly, I am thankful that he allowed me to walk through the publishing process alongside him, hopefully paving the way for more writing to come.
Taking a Stand on Gay Marriage — My most popular blog post this year, by far, was from May 2012 entitled “I Still Stand as an Evangelical for Gay Marriage” which was an updated post from earlier in the year. I firmly believe that Christians should be advocates for our GLBTQ neighbors in their struggle to gain equality in the eyes of the government. As long as I am a Christian and receive benefits from the government because I am straight and allowed to marry my wife while others are denied this same benefit because they are gay, I will take a stand for gay marriage. I will continue to plead with my more conservative Evangelical brothers & sisters: this is not about gay sex being a sin, it’s about loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Building MyOhai — 2 years ago, two buddies of mine started a business. About a month into the process, they invited me in. After doing some work in 2011, from April 2012 until the present, my good friend Scott, who owns MyOhai, has allowed me to operate as strategic partner & COO, which helped me to find my passion for organizational & communications strategies that bring clarity, focus, & purpose to businesses. It turns out I’m pretty good at it. And I have been able to meet some amazing people & organizations in the process. I am grateful to Scott for creating a space for me to find a part of myself I never knew was there.
Going on a Summer Adventure — As a part-time professor and work-from-home business adviser, I had the unique opportunity to take my family (wife, 4yo son, 3yo son, & 18mo. daughter) on a 3 month adventure this summer. We started in May at a wedding in San Diego, spent 2 weeks in our old haunting grounds north of Philadelphia, rented a house for 2 months near Main St. in Lynchburg, VA (where my sister-in-law lives), and then ended back up in Philadelphia for a week before flying back to Phoenix in early August. It was a truly beautiful time in our lives. My sister-in-law lives among a wonderful community in VA and we were welcomed with open arms. So many nights of dinner and wine with new friends, weekends of farmer’s markets and coffee shops, leading a house church through a 5-week study of Kierkegaard’s Fear & Trembling, and a slower pace that we long to bring back into our rhythm of life.
Delving into Zizek & Deleuze — Though not many people have ever heard of Gilles Deleuze or Slavoj Zizek, throughout this year they have helped me articulate a vision I have been carrying for several years. In Ecclesiastes Qohelet says there is a time to tear down & a time to build. 2005–2012 was my time to tear down. I critiqued my experience of theology and the church, almost literally to death. But 2013 begins a new chapter. It is time to rebuild. And the thoughts of Zizek & Deleuze have given me language to use on my quest. Some of this language includes the rhizome, objet petit a, ontologies of multiplicity, and cultural capitalism.
I know that with my tools, blueprints, & passion, comes the risk of coming from behind the safety of criticism, the fear that what I build will not be valuable, and the grief of losing those who will not like what I build. But to keep tearing down after there is nothing left is dangerous. It’s dangerously comfortable and dangerously parasitic. And so now I leap.
I hope your 2012 was filled with meaningful experiences that propel you to your own vision of life.
See you next year.