See also: Best of 2020, Part One: Writers’ Picks, Best of 2020, Part Two: Peers’ Picks

Rounding out the year, you get to hear from the people behind the curtain: the editors (except we also post our writing here… so I guess not really behind the curtain). After looking at the writers’ favorite pieces and the pieces they loved from their peers, we today get to highlight the gems that stuck with us this year. While 2020 was not a year we would like to relive, it is somehow more bearable and more striking to watch it again through the eyes of the post calvin.

Below, you’ll find the editors’ picks for each writer, organized by publication date.


Deb Rienstra

 

Prone to Wander | Katerina Parsons

An eloquent expression of the deconstruction/reconstruction project so many young people are trying to manage.

What We Owe to Each Other | Ben Orlebeke

Straightforward, bracing, factual. Thank you, Ben, for telling it like it is.

Jesus and John Piper: The Radicalization of a Research Assistant | Josh Parks

I was tempted by Josh’s John Donne piece, but this one outlines a trajectory I see often these days. The church cannot hide its pathologies from this generation. They see it.

I’m Not Okay | Laura Sheppard Song

Katie delivered the anger, Laura evokes the sadness.

Pretty, Crazy, Dead Girls and Taylor Swift | Emily Stroble

For Emily, I was tempted by “Half-life” as another great piece from the periodic table month. But this one also shows off Emily’s ability to collage her way into surprising insight.

Does It Matter? | Katie Van Zanen

A killer essay that captures the pain of a generation.

Thanksgiving Prayer | Annaka Koster

Annaka’s Snail Sagas are epic for sure. But I chose this one to represent the periodic table theme month, which I loved. And also because: science is real.

 


Josh Parks

 

Drink the Wine, Burn the Candle | Ansley Kelly

Ansley’s exhortation not to “hoard joy” struck me as particularly needed in such a caution-filled year.

Bringer of Light | Alex Johnson

Alex’s honesty catches me off guard in this one—it turns so gracefully from a fun childhood vignette to an exposé of human cruelty.

Ice Cream Zagat | Susannah Boersma

One of the rare posts that is practically helpful in planning a roadtrip. I haven’t made it to any of these places yet, but Susannah makes it feel like my Michigander street-cred won’t be complete until I do.

Top Ten Map Projections | Gwyneth Findlay

I aspire to Gwyneth’s oddball erudition, and it reaches new heights here. I also adore Awed By Her Splendor,” but I’m a hopeless sucker for maps.

Finding the Words | Klaas Walhout

Empathy across faith boundaries is not easy to write about, much less to live. Klaas does both here.

While You Were Sleeping | Olivia Harre

This is an eerie one to read nine months later. Olivia asks the year’s central questions about crisis and normalcy on the eve of the pandemic.

“I Can’t Breathe” | Kayleigh Fongers

Oxygen may have been the single toughest element to write about in 2020, but Kayleigh’s theme month post handles the year’s crises with great humility.

 


Annaka Koster

 

Silver Lining | Cotter Koopman

An honest and introspective exploration of public transit—once so easily taken for granted—and privilege. Also possibly the best pun title we saw all year.

Our Black Lady of Winding Journeys | Comfort Sampong

Comfort’s mediative style is particularly potent in this reflection on God, identity, and the intersection of the two.

Living Deliberately | Lauren Cole

Ah, Walden. How many young souls have you inspired with the truth only to later disappoint with the facts? Lauren’s wonderfully understated article is the perfect encapsulation of a literary journey so many of us have taken.

Run Boy Run | Finnely King-Schoular

Finnely may be perennially hilarious, but in this piece, he’s taken a moment to be reflective and it just works.

Epitaph, Epithet | Kyric Koning

While I was sorely tempted by some of Kyric’s more humorous anecdotes (of which there are many), in a year when none of us can escape death, I was unable to resist this melancholic exploration of what’s left when we’re gone.

Lucky of the Hot Springs | Chad Westra

Any time Chad invokes Chinese etymology, I sit up and pay attention and so should you. The result is always worthwhile.

The Megasaw | Jon Gorter

Jon’s explorations in nature are always a treat, which is exactly what makes this particular piece so arresting and poignant.

 


Alex Johnson

 

Clarity | Jordan Petersen Kamp

While Jordan’s brand is more music than introspective pieces, I am struck by how he details the mid-pandemic brain-fog in this essay (both in content and form). Plus, the header image gets me every time.

And It Looks Like All My Dreams | Courtney Zonnefeld

Courtney captures what it looks like to make a place your own when you are a transient twenty-something, deciding which traditions to keep and which to invent. This piece felt like a warm hug.

Looters Get Shot | Ben Devries

In the aftermath of the racial protests, Ben tugs on the threads of the word “looters” and watches them unravel into his hand. Then he stitches together a tapestry, hangs it on the blog, and says, “Look. Pay attention.”

After Midnight | Lillie Spackman

As someone who lives in a house where if you stay up past 10 pm you are really living on the edge, Lillie’s foray into the wee hours of the morning is akin to a portal into another world.

A Love Letter to Games | Alex Westenbroek

In preparing for one of my game design classes this semester, I was trying to think of the lovely article that perfectly captured how games teach us how to live. It was this one. In a year where leisure felt higher stakes than ever, Alex crystallizes why these games matter.

Under the Influence of Saturn | Joshua Polanski

Part academic and research article, part incisive social commentary, fully fascinating.

Posion, Powersuits, and Blake Lively | Anna Jeffries VanZytveld

This essay makes me want to reexamine my closet and how much I’ve wielded my own arsenic.

The Last One | Brad Zwiers

I am still left speechless when I read Brad’s final piece for the post calvin. He evokes raw vulnerability with all its sharp edges and crystal-clear insights.

 

2 Comments

  1. Kyric Koning

    Thanks editors! Nice to hear some thoughts (and not writerly critiques and corrections). Also nice to see some familiar names of writers of old.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      This made my New Year’s Eve. Learned a new word AND it means I’m funnier than I thought I was

      Jokes aside, it was a great reflection and a great chance yet again to go back and read some pieces I missed. Have a great New Year all!

      Reply

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