Ring Out the Old Year

Some highly subjective awards for 2005.

Before launching into this business, we should pause to note the passing of the writer Susan Bergman, a Books & Culture contributing editor, who died on January 1. Her book Anonymity (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994) is one of the finest memoirs to be published in the last half of the 20th century. Both in its literary excellence and in its unsparing truth-telling, it set a high standard for Christian autobiography. We'll have more on Susan in the pages of the magazine.

So many books, so many magazines, so many words—one great blooming, buzzing confusion, but with an order underlying it all, the outlines of which we are able to grasp and the splendor of which—in all its magnificent excess—demands praise. In a recent issue of the journal Markets & Morality (Vol. 8, No. 1, 2005), John Schneider of Calvin College has a review of Christopher J. H. Wright's Ethics for the People of God (InterVarsity, 2004). I recommend both the book and the review, which is largely critical. Schneider observes that, "on the matter of human flourishing, Wright omits discussion of creation narratives—most notably Eden—and he works very hard to remove all traces of extravagance from key narratives of the Land, so as, we suppose, to bring them into line with a Christian ethics of temperance and moderation. In consequence, the exorbitant description of God's vision of Israel's (Deut. 8) flourishing in a good land, flowing with milk and honey, bursting with copper and iron, where their herds and houses will become large, and so forth, gets distilled into a paradigm of sufficiency." Consider this Corner an homage to divine extravagance.

Here then are some subjective "awards" for the past year or so:

Best Reader:Remembered Past: ...

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