For the past few years on the post calvin, we’ve done a celebratory review of the best stuff writers have produced. Each year, we’ve chosen the posts differently. If you’re in the mood for some nostalgia, check out the past three years in review: Best of 2015, Best of 2016, Best of 2017.
This year, we decided to let the writers speak for themselves. Everyone has chosen their favorite 2018 post of their own devising and will tell you a bit about why they like it. We’ll split it up among these last three days of the month, so check back later if your favorite writer isn’t included yet today.
Katerina Parsons | When the Church Fails to Talk about Consent
I grew up, like many writers and readers of this blog, in a religious culture where everyone talked about sex, and no one talked about desire. I wanted to start a conversation about this and put words to the gnawing dissatisfaction with the portrait of intimacy the church had provided me. It was intimidating to write such an intimate, vulnerable essay about sexuality for an audience that has famously avoided the topic, but the response I received was overwhelming. All the messages, shares, and responses to this piece and the conversation it generated reminded me why I love writing in the first place, and why I value being part of the post calvin community.
Cotter Koopman | Toothache
I was trying to process why I had such a repulsed and depressed reaction to revisiting the orthodontist—writing this helped me realize how that belittlement and adolescent hopelessness has been conditioned and can still be triggered, and in some ways is still being lived out. And I wanted to tell that story in a funny and relatable way.
Meg Schmidt | A Prayer for the Twenty-Somethings
At Calvin, I once listened to a girl quietly sobbing to her friend. She explained how lonely she felt after leaving the dorms, and how she had prayed to God to take her loneliness away from her. I felt for her, but I couldn’t help thinking that if she couldn’t face leaving the practically pre-made social world of the freshman/sophomore dorms, how on earth would she face leaving college? The world is a more cold and unfeeling after you take off your graduation cap. The conversation, for some reason, stuck with me, and was the seed for this prayer years later. (Though parts of the post were, I suppose, words that I myself needed to hear.)
Caitlin Gent | An Apostate’s Epistle
India Daniels | Stories I Did Not Tell
I wrote this post almost a year ago, right after I returned from my trip to India. I went to India to build and break, to build more of a connection with that side of my family and to break the ways I’d developed of thinking my father and myself. It was a deeply fulfilling and disorienting start to my year. I’ve pushed a lot of thoughts about it out of my head because I haven’t known what to do with them, but when I looked back at this post I was glad that it was honest and true.
Josh deLacy | Blackberries: A Love Song
This piece feels warm and nostalgic, and it inspired my mom to break out the old ice cream maker and dish up a fresh batch of blackberry ice cream, which tasted every bit as good as I remembered. This piece also tries to capture some mixed feelings. It’s about nostalgia for something negative. I don’t like invasive species. I don’t love getting scratched and tearing out the same plants month after month. And yet, I love blackberries, and they feel like home. I don’t know how to resolve this. I’m just stuck in the tension, but I’d rather be there than stuck on one side that demands all my loyalty.
Caroline (Higgins) Nyczak | Chinese Takeout
I like both the style and the story of this piece. It was and is a love letter and a gift to my roommate. It’s an attempt to capture the bittersweet feeling of every new beginning being an ending, and to be thankful for the times you have in life that you won’t get back. I am also pleased with the structure of the piece (especially the callbacks) and the reference to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I know that in the future I will return to this piece when I want to remember what it was like to live in NYC with my best friend in my twenties.
Josh Parks | Harry Potter and the Humanist Podcast
I’ve kept listening to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text since I wrote this post back in June, and I’ve continued to be inspired and challenged by their rigorous, devotional approach to these beloved books. In fact, the hosts’ slow-but-subtle reading practice was part of my inspiration for my 2019 reading-related New Year’s resolution. I’m still grappling, though, with the theological challenge of just how much this podcast’s compassionate, generous secular humanism has in common with the compassionate, generous Christianity I strive to follow. I’ll let you know if I figure anything out.
Gwyneth Findlay | Coming Out Ruined Christmas Eve
I started thinking about this piece almost as soon as I became a writer for the post calvin. I couldn’t imagine not writing it. I couldn’t imagine writing it only for myself. When it published, I got messages from people I haven’t talked to in years, and straight Christians passed it around in horror, and everyone acted like I’d written something terrifying. I didn’t. This piece isn’t brave. It’s selfish, it’s raw, it’s untidy. But it was necessary for me to write and share, how I did and when I did. Check back on how it went in a year.
Jenna Griffin | The Church at Rocamadour
This post is special to me because of the story I wanted to tell, and the way that, in telling it, I fell into a different style of writing than what I am accustomed to. By leaving gaps and using concrete but shadowy images, I felt like I was able to make readers feel something similar to what I felt on that day. I didn’t tell the whole story because I didn’t have to. In writing it, I felt deeper meaning take form in my personal reflection of those events.
Abby Zwart (’13) teaches high school English in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She spends her free time making lists of books she should read, cooking, and managing the post calvin.