Another year has come and gone, taking flight upon the winds of time to be seen no more. Even though 2011 was a fairly crazy experience, 2012 was even more exhilarating. The maelstrom of life pours its waves over one’s head, swirling in all of its beauty and rage, plunging the might-have-beens and wish-I-could-haves into the unfathomable depths of existence, drowned and bathed in its purity and wrath.
The thrill ride of my life never ends!
Since breath yet fills my lungs, I submit again- for your reading and viewing pleasure- my 2012 Year in Review.
2 year anniversary
Megan and I celebrated our second anniversary last February, a wonderful monument to the life we have been given. When one takes one’s vows, the lines ‘for better or for worse’ can take on an air of sentimentality, but usually reality has enough for worse to launch in assault to test the mettle of one’s promises. The sweetness of love may seem bitter in the pain it often (maybe necessarily) entails, but perhaps is all the sweeter for the struggle.
Our marriage thus far has been marked by some extremely challenging circumstances- namely, my health issues- but the result is that the moments away from that insanity are like a heaven to exult in. While no one would wish to tackle the things we have had to go through, the culmination of the struggle is that I have been given a glimpse of love that roots down below the mushiness of sentiment or the aching of feeling; finding the movement of the will which inexplicably yet irresistibly chooses to love despite all other considerations. Megan’s love and sacrifice and all the other things that the poverty of language is unfit to express are a wonder to behold, and I can count myself the richest man who has ever lived to have found such a treasure. I simply cannot imagine my life without Megan, and have no doubt that I owe my life to her. There is so much more I could write, but the depth of what I would want to say is such that to attempt to put it into words feels like a robbery of sorts, so I will content myself to simply say, “I love you Megan!”
6 year work anniversary
I find it hard to believe that I have been working at Church of the Resurrection for six years! The time has passed so quickly that it’s hard to know where it went.
This year was a challenging one, mostly related to the health issues I experienced. For the first half of the year I was confined to not really working at all, since my energy level was so low and the medication I was on often rendered me unable to do much of anything. Around springtime I started to gradually work my way back into a normal work schedule, designing and animating part time from home. It was finally in July when I started back full-time, although I still work the majority of the time from home since my immune system is still working to get back to normal.
I was rather afraid that taking such a long time off would seriously impact my work performance and hinder any creativity that I may have possessed, but design is quite a bit like riding a bike; once I got back into it it started to feel natural again. Of course, getting off the mind-altering medications helped significantly.
I am grateful that Church of the Resurrection was so accommodating to me and gave me all the time and space I needed to get back on my feet. Here are some of my favorite projects from this past year, in no particular order:
All videos can (and should!) be viewed in HD and fullscreen.
Other Design Projects
Of course, I don’t design and animate just because it’s my job, but rather because it is something that I love to do. Although it has been challenging to get back into work mode, part and parcel of that was to continue to develop my skills and create things on my own time. I had the opportunity to make a lot of things this last year, and listing them all would burgeon this post beyond reason. Here are a few of my favorites:
Cutter is an extremely talented worship leader/songwriter who released his first EP this past summer. I have the privilege of working (and sometimes performing) with him, and so when he asked me to design the artwork for his first EP I was exited to do so.
Megan and I wanted to make some artwork for Easter, and she came up with the idea of doing propaganda posters to kind of give an alternate look at Easter, sort of like Screwtape Letters meets Easter. We imagined the forces of darkness forming a counter-insurgency against ‘The Lamb’ and what that might look like. It was a fun project to work on and we were both really happy with the result:
Easter Came Down
There must have been something about Easter this past year, because I took the time to make another set of posters for it. Entitled ‘Easter Came Down,’ this set was an interpretation of the Anastasis, or The Harrowing of Hell.
Glory to God
This is a poster I made for Advent, specifically thinking of the Gloria.
My friend Jim LePage is curating a collaboration project called Old and New Project which has artists from all backgrounds create a piece that is their response to/interpretation of a particular biblical story. I was given Malchus’ Ear and created this piece for it. I participated in an Artist Q & A about it in which I offer a little insight into my thought process, approach and the like, which you can read here.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Jude 12-13. I created a series of art pieces to illustrate this passage:
I have continued to develop my love for photography this year, although health issues caused quite a setback for much of it since I was confined inside until early summer. Nevertheless, Megan and I were able to do have some great photo shoots. Here are just a few of the favorites:
I am generally a voracious reader, and although constrained by the lack of concentration induced by medication, I managed to plow through quite a few books this past year. I have tried to be more discriminating, so as to avoid selections that sap both time and vigor, yet despite my best efforts a few manage to sneak through the outer defenses. That being said, most of the books this year I would give a hearty thumbs-up.
Best Books of 2012
The Divine Names and the Mystical Theology by Dionysius the Areopagite
I’ve actually read this book several times before, but it is one of those that I always come back to and find tremendous new insights in with every subsequent read.
Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives by Pope Benedict XVI
This volume caps off Pope Benedict’s trilogy on the life of Jesus, one of the most accessible yet nevertheless profound treatments of the life of Jesus available. If you haven’t read the previous two volumes, you need to put them on your reading list for 2012. The third and final installment, while considerably shorter than its predecessors, nuances out of the familiar narratives some fresh and exciting insights. I read this book over Advent and found its reflections quite powerful in my own spiritual life.
Hannibal Crosses the Alps by John Prevas
The legendary exploits of Hannibal have captivated military historians for millennia, but the mystery enshrouding them often obscures the sheer bravado behind one of the most exceptional generals of all time. Prevas focuses specifically on the crossing of the Alps, offering his own well researched conclusions on the exact location for this renowned event.
Aquinas by Edward Feser
Although this work is billed as an introduction to the philosophy of the greatest of the medieval intellectuals, the content is hardly rudimentary. Feser’s style makes accessible an incredibly dense and complex subject, offering those unacquainted with St. Aquinas an entry into further study and understanding.
On the Trinity by Richard of St. Victor
This has always been a book I have wanted to read, having read synopses of the argument in various other sources. It wasn’t until 2011 that On the Trinity was available in its entirety in English, allowing a much wider audience access to the remarkable thought of this ancient writer. Upon my first reading I was utterly taken, subsequently making my way through it several more times with copious notes. I realized i enjoyed it so thoroughly that I took it upon myself to begin writing a book about it.
Worst Books of 2012
Reading Romans with St Thomas Aquinas, edited by Matthew Levering
Fortunately my list of disappointing books was quite short this year. I hesitate to add this one to the list, but I have to admit dashed hopes. I am probably responsible for most of the unmet expectations.
I enjoy the editor’s other works, and I didn’t examine the nature of the book closely enough to realize that it is an anthology. There is nothing wrong with anthologies, but I really don’t care for them, since most of the essays were clearly not intended for the publication but represent the academic works of scholars presented in other venues. The tenuous relation to the theme is heavily strained in many essays, as some authors devote more time to critiquing or analyzing another scholar’s interpretation of Aquinas’ interpretation of Romans.
The end result may perhaps be interesting, but often has little meaningful relation to the stated theme. To be sure, many of the essays were wonderful, but overall I simply could not be compelled to be interested, despite my best efforts.
I tried to do as much writing as I could this past year, and often times my reading heavily influences what I eventually write about. I also wrote some articles and blog posts for Creationswap.com and Sundaymag.tv
I submit for your approval some of my favorites from 2012:
Just Make Sure it Will Burn!
My Empire for a Pony!
The Light That Never Went Out
Social Justice Is Not A Virtue
The Mighty West
The Woman Who Saved the West
A Lovely Sight
The Devil in the Details
The Blasphemy of the Cliche
Mrs. Jesus and the Zombie Gnostics
To Be The Moon
Over the past few months I have been working on writing a book based on Richard of St. Victor’s On the Trinity. The work itself is tentatively titled Love is Overflowing and is what I call a re-presentation of his argument found in On the Trinity. The basic thrust of his treatise is that faith is only the first step into knowing God, and that the knowledge of the unity of God’s substance flows naturally into the Trinitarian mystery, something which can be grasped to some degree by the understanding through reason and experience. My aim is to not have a running commentary but rather it is
…the journey of the mind that I want to follow, moving from the beginnings of knowledge in faith to the intellectual reconciliation in the reason to the comport of everyday life with a mystery beyond comprehension.
If overflowing love is the foundation of not only all of creation but of even the Trinitarian mystery, then this is a love worth knowing. Richard of St. Victor affirms that to know is to love, and thus the path to loving God is through understanding. Belief is only the beginning of a journey into ever-deepening mysteries.
And who can resist a good mystery?
I have finished the bulk of the text and have made it through one major revision. In the next few months I hope to revise and tighten it up some more, edit for grammar and spelling, and finally create some illustrations for certain portions of the book.
In November of 2011 I underwent high dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant to treat a relapse non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After a few weeks, I had a hospital stay and it became apparent that I was suffering from graft versus host disease (GVHD) and was put on high doses of prednisone to counteract the effects. I continued to taper off of the prednisone for the first few months of 2012, which had a long list of uncomfortable side effects (among them the inability to concentrate for any length of time) and was finally able to manage without it mid-March.
The transplant wiped out my immune system, so in the beginning of the year I battled a bout of CMV in February and had another hospital stay just before March for a viral infection. Relief finally came as I was weaned off more of the preventative drugs and was able to start building back my immunity.
In May of 2012 I had my first set of scans and testing and was declared to have no evidence of disease for the first time post-transplant. The biggest struggle of the last year has been gaining my immunity back up to where it needs to be to be able to fight off common infections. Since my immunity has remained low, I have spent a majority of the year in isolation. But, as the summer progressed, so did my counts. I received my first set of “baby shots” (re-immunizations) in June. I was able to return to work over the summer on a limited basis and was able to be a groomsmen in my brother-in-law’s wedding in November.
On my anniversary date for my 1-year post stem cell transplant we celebrated with family and got to celebrate the last year of recovery. I had another set of tests and scans in November for my 1-year work up and they remained without evidence of disease and showed signs of improvement in blood counts and lung tests. I continue to visit the KU BMT clinic for follow-ups and scans as I work on building my immune system back up to normal.
A New Year
It’s been an exciting and challenging year, but a good one nevertheless. Here’s to 2013 and all the surprises in store!