Year-end retrospective (part 1)

A week from tomorrow, a new year begins on the Christian liturgical calendar. So, as in past years, I’m marking the end of the old year by looking back over it. In the octave beginning today, I’ll go over some of the “highlights” of this blog in the past year, and in general summarize where we’ve been.

The year’s highlights of Shine Cycle worldbuilding and Strategic Primer development will be reviewed in their regular “departments,” on Monday and Wednesday respectively; today and next Saturday I’ll bring you through the “essays” that appeared in this space on Saturdays (and a few of the Friday poems) in the past year.

I should also note that the “Poetry Archive” posts, each asking for your opinion—in general and in comparison with each other—of selected poems from this blog’s long archive continued each week throughout the year, but will probably stop when the current set finishes in a couple of months or so.

The year began, as another will after next week, with Advent. And so I began on a serious note, arguing that to be prepared to celebrate the Incarnation at Christmas we must cultivate a consciousness of our sinful condition:

Why should we be surprised that Christmas has become a “shopping holiday” and no more for our no-longer-Christian culture? The true joy of Christmas depends on a right understanding of the gravity of our sins and shameful, hopeless condition, but our culture (as well as, to our shame, many who call themselves Christians) has lost even the comprehension of the term, let alone any acknowledgment of God’s rightful authority or shame at our failure to keep his just law.

But, as I said, the true joy of Christmas depends on knowing “how great our sins and misery are” (as the Catechism puts it)—which, in this season, ought to lead us to penitence, repentance, and holy living, just as an awareness of God’s possibly-imminent coming (whether in glory at the end, or in judgment or in power) should also do.

And I continued that with a reminder that Advent should be a season of penitence and humility, before turning to the other side of Advent in the week after Gaudete Sunday:

The message of Advent is the same as the message proclaimed by John the Baptist, and by Jesus himself at the beginning of his ministry: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” But, because we have been promised (regardless of our unreadiness) a share in that kingdom and (more importantly) a share in Christ’s righteousness, its message to us who have believed its message is also, “Rejoice, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” And, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!”

Gaudete!

The last week of Advent, in which my post fell on Christmas Eve, I considered how Christmas ought to be celebrated.

As the civil-calendar year drew to a close, I reported on the results so far of the “Poetry Archive” experiment, which I had begun the previous September, then ended the civil year with [a personal retrospective on 2011]<a href="https://shinecycle.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/2011-a-brief-retrospective/).

As the cycle of liturgical seasons went on, I marked several holidays with poems written specially for them: Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter, Ascensiontide, and [Pentecost]((https://shinecycle.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/no-need-a-poem-for-pentecost/).

I continued the series of reviews of books on my list of books everyone should read—not every month, as I'd hoped, since I stalled for several months on a couple of books, but nearly that often. The books (from the list) I reviewed this year were the Faerie Queene, Citizen of the Galaxy, The Curse of Chalion, Huckleberry Finn, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, and Gaudy Night.

In January I wrote a post considering the "fan fiction" phenomenon and dividing it into five categories. This post has, to my surprise, continued to get the occasional "hit" from search engines and the like.

Toward the end of that month, I returned to cross-examination policy debate, the "academic sport" I fell in love with in high school, to outline a corrective to one of its major problems: a "kritik" of fallacious appeals to authority.

In early February, I discussed at some length the operationn of the sacraments—again what they are and why only those "signs," and what's really going on when they are administered, among other issues. Later, I objected to inanities in worship (an argument I may well make again, because they continue to wear on me).

I marked Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, with a (prose) meditation.

With the end of February came the end of my first quarter-century, my twenty-fifth birthday. I wrote a poem for the occasion, as well as some scattered reflections at the milestone. I wrote another poem when I got sick that weekend and didn't recover for almost a week.

In early March I wrote a post about feedback, comments, and critique, in general and in specific, including the differences between those three terms, what I'd like to get and why, a description of my "ideal" critic, and "how you can help." For any of you who have started reading more recently, I think it's well worth reading so you can better understand my perspective.

After describing "Imperial Robo Cards" as artifacts in my Shine Cycle, I introduced vague plans to one day make them, as a game design and programming project. (Not that I have any shortage of projects.)

My series of descriptions of "unwritten programs"—applications that should exist but don't—continued with a wish for desktop versions of web-apps.

I marked Easter with both a poem and an essay on its centrality to the gospel.

In April I wrote at some length about the importance of testing in software development, drawing from my own experience as both a developer and a user. Later on I wrote about the importance of ditributed version control in software development, drawing from my experience with Spatial, which was my senior project at Calvin.

After working with my dad to catalog most of our (large) family book collection, I put some of what I learned together into a short and incomplete history of book numbers.

In May, I asked whether I should put up a descriptive "front page" (I did eventually put up a “sticky” welcome post), and announced plans (which I haven't been very good about following, alas) to go back and do more active maintenance on the blog's archives. (By the way, at the time I said that I suspected that most of the then “38 followers” were referrer-spam; I now supposedly have 263 “followers,” and I’m sure that most of them are either referrer-spam or people who liked one post enough to follow but not enough to otherwise interact here and probably ignore my posts. This is the problem with a multi-department blog.)

After reading a challenge on Holy Worlds, I wrote my first-ever "drabble," and posted it later that month.

I marked Pentecost with a poem and an extended meditation.

This is a good place to stop; I'll finish my look back over the year next week.

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