Whatever is Lovely

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Well now that the Christmas wrapping carnage has been cleared away and the vertigo has begun to subside, I feel a bit depressed. December 26th is a lot like a hangover as we feel the pain inflicted upon ourselves by over-indulging. I get a little depressed after singing “Joy to the World” as I begin to think of getting back to normal.

One of the ways I cope is to reflect upon the good this year has brought. While it has definitely brought its share of bad, 2011 also delivered moments that offered me a bit of hope for the next year.

I wonder what fed you this year?

What piece of art or literature moved you to look outside of yourself?

What relationship changed the way you felt about life?

How did you live a better story in 2011?

I hope that in this last week of 2011 we can, as the scripture above says, dwell on the good. And, in so doing, ignite a passion to reach for the lovely again this next year.

Being a bibliophile (look it up) one area I love to dwell on is what I read this past year. Here are some of the books I read that made an impact on me in 2011:

The Pastor by Eugene Peterson: This memoir of the author of The Message is the most influential book I’ve read (outside the Bible). Peterson has a knack for God sightings, interpreting seemingly mundane events in his life as providential moments crucial to his vocation as Pastor. This book helped my imagination reclaim a biblical and believable vision of what a pastor could be, of what I could be.

In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen: Over the course of an hour and a half I devoured this little book on leadership. Nouwen redefines leadership in light of Jesus’ temptation. Nouwen calls the Christian leader of the future to be “irrelevant” by pointing solely to the grace and love of Jesus and not to our own ability. What an encouragement for the incompetent among us.

While I read much more, these two books made the greatest impact on me.

So I ask: What did you read in 2011?

Michael is still “hungover” from Christmas but his 2-year-old makes it all worth while. He will continue his survey of “whatever is lovely” from 2011 at his blog A Sprig of Hope.


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8 responses to “Whatever is Lovely

  1. Georgie-ann

    Hope everyone is having a Happy Christmas season! Traditionally, at least in the Catholic Church, the “Three” Kings don’t even arrive until “the Epiphany” which is still days away. So we’ve only just completed Advent, with the Birth of Christ, and have a season of special Christmas rejoicing still “in front” of us. (This is something I’ve always been happy about! It seems that once again, “the world has it wrong!”) In the music ministry, we continue in anticipation and celebration with our rejoicing songs for awhile longer, which is just fine with me!

    The Spanish people that I know even exchange gifts on the Feast of the Epiphany (the Three Kings)! So, we can keep the party going on for awhile! (And once again, “the choice is up to us!”)

    Since I began my English language “catching up on reading” phase about a year ago with books ordered on sale from ChristianBook.com — one of which led me to this web-site! (“Strange Fire, Holy Fire”) — I’ve read some very interesting and helpful books.

    But, I must say, the Bible has continued to eclipse them all for profoundly positive and lovely reading. I’m very grateful for the on-line resources, such as BibleGateway.com, and to this web-site, which allow me an opportunity to keep delving into its riches!

    God Bless!

    • Michael Gallup

      Thanks for bringing the Bible back into this discussion. I reread Genesis this year with the over-arching Biblical meta-narrative in mind. I was over-whelmed by the literary continuity, foreshadowing, and sheer beauty of it all.

  2. This year I read a lot of books. Not having a job for half of this year has given me the time to read that I have always wanted. Two of the books I read really made me think about how we, as humans live lives. Both are true stories about people trying to survive in extreme weather. Both end completely differently.

    One book, The Devil’s Highway, told the story of 30 or so hispanics trying to cross into the United States illegally. 13 made it but the rest died in the desert. The story was horrible and a little political, but made me think all of those people would have survived if they had, had good leadership and stuck together.

    The other book was South by Edward Shackleton. It tells the famous story of the Endurance, the failed South Pole expedition where Shackleton leads all of his men to safety. They spend nearly a year on the ice and in my opinion no one died because they all stuck together. They all looked out for each other.

    We might not be out on the desert or on the South Pole, but I think it is clear that we need each other or our lives could be in jeopardy.

  3. Michael:

    I was deeply impacted by The Pastor, both his book and his life, as well. I want to write a review of it soon. I’ve been thinking for the last couple of days about other books but–because of my early 2011 fogginess–cannot recall when I read certain things. But “The Devil in the White City” was memorable because of the beautiful writing and the story it told. Also, it shows the contradiction we humans are. All at once we are capable building a “white city” full of wonder and hope, while that city also hides the nation’s first known serial killer. Chilling and a narrative testimony to the concept of God’s image in us and our bent/broken nature.


    • Michael Gallup

      I would love to read your review of that book.

      Another thought: I read numerous books this year that had little impact on me. Was this my fault? Perhaps there was an impact that I’m not even aware of. The reading of books is certainly a mysterious action.

  4. Pingback: Whatever is Lovely | asprigofhope

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