The 2008 Year in Review

It has become very obvious over the years that I'm drawn to long posts (basically essays) and the multi-part series. This blog is kind of an antiblog. It doesn't invite surfing. I expect that drives a lot of people away. And I think that is a good thing. I think it helps to protect the conversations we have here. Any regular readers are going to have high investments given the length of the posts and series.

Two of my favorite series, both inspired by comic strips, came in 2008.

So here it is, the best of the year 2008:

Experimental Theology 2008 Year in Review

1. The Theology of Peanuts
2008 began with my series The Theology of Peanuts. This was quite a project as I inserted illustrative Peanuts strips into the text of each essay. Being a big fan of the whole Peanuts gang this was a fun project to start off the year.

2. The Theology of Calvin and Hobbes
After starting 2008 with The Theology of Peanuts I ended the year with an equally ambitious project: The Theology of Calvin and Hobbes. Inspired by this series, this year at ACU I taught an Honors class entitled the Theology of Calvin and Hobbes.

3. Tracy Witham's Into the World.
During the summer months in 2008 while I was in Germany I was very pleased to host Tracy Witham's online book Into the World. Tracy now hosts that book, along with his other work, on his blog Metaponderance.

4. The Psychology of Violence
Speaking of Germany, two of my favorite posts from 2008 were posts about the Buchenwald concentration camp and reflections prompted by the traffic lights in the former East Germany. Each post uses those experiences in Germany to reflect on the psychology of violence.

5. The Omega Point (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)
Not for the faint of heart, you have to think really hard to wrap your head around the Omega Point series. Inspired by the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in the Omega Point series I tried to integrate consciousness, theology, evolution, and physics.

6. The Psychology of Christian Art (Part 1, Interlude, Part 2, and Part 3)
I wrote a lot about art in 2008, a research interest that continues to this day. This series in 2008 asked the question: Why is so much of Christian art so bad? To answer that question we ventured into theology and existentialism and some of my laboratory research. This research that began in 2008 has now found its way into print as summarized in my recent post on the Thomas Kinkade Effect.

7. The Theology of Ugly (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7)
In this series I used the category of ugly to approach theological and ethical issues. The high points of the series, thanks to my colleague Dan, were the posts devoted to the aesthetics of the Crucifixion, the Isenheim Altarpiece, and Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World.

8. PostSecret (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5)
PostSecret is an online and publishing sensation where people anonymously share secrets they have never before disclosed. This series summarized research I did with some of my students into the PostSecret phenomenon. A fun point of the series was when Frank Warren, the founder of PostSecret, commented on a couple of the posts.

9. Orthodox Iconography
2008 was the year I really got into Orthodox iconography. I still have much to learn but what little I did learn I shared in a variety of posts on specific icons (The Harrowing of Hell, John the Baptist, the Crucifixion, Christ Pantokrator, and the Nativity, Baptism, and Transfiguration) and in posts concerning the theology of the visual style of icons (Stylization, Light, Time and Space, and Perspective). Inspired by these posts I eventually taught a class on Orthodox iconography at my church. As a part of that class we visited St. Luke's Orthodox church here in Abilene and were treated to a presentation by Father LeMaster's and the iconographer of St. Luke's.

10. My Research
In 2008 I also continued to blog about my scholarly research. Both my Satan and Theodicy and my Feeling Queasy about the Incarnation studies were accepted for publication in 2008. I remain very proud of those two papers as they were, and remain, unprecedented in the psychology of religion literature. More, this research highlights my interest in "experimental theology," the ways very particular theological beliefs (in these papers belief in Satan and the Incarnation) interact with psychology.

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