Once again, this year’s news cycle provided a whole new set of jaw-dropping gospel fodder for our beloved little blog here. Here are my top 10 stories that were either too short to post or slipped through the cracks in 2011.

"Theologies of Glory only pay short term dividends."

10) “Pay for Spray” Law:  While it isn’t the first time it’s happened, it’s heartbreaking every time it happens. In a rural Tennessee, a family neglected to pay a fee to the local fire department. When their mobile home caught on fire, the firefighters responded, only to watch their house burn down. The money quote: “If they don’t collect fire fees, the fire department can’t survive and if they make exceptions to the rule, no one will ever pay the fee.” Looks like the law (and the fear of antinomianism) wins again!

9) Rudy can’t play in the SEC:  What happens to Rudy after the glory-filled semi-Pelagian ending to his college football career?  He starts a sports drink company and gets in trouble for allegedly defrauding investors, of course!  “The company made and sold a sports drink called “Rudy” with the tagline “Dream Big! Never Quit!” But the SEC charged that Mr. Ruettiger and 12 others made false and misleading statements about their company in news releases, SEC filings and promotional materials during 2008 in a scheme to lure investors, inflate the stock price and then sell their shares at a profit.”  The article neglected to mention the overnight plunge of DVD sales.

8) Say “Law” Again!: Speaking of Self-Justification, there’s this ad about youth violence starring everybody’s favorite voice of grace:

7) Atlas Balked: In what might be the philosophically funniest story of the year, 100,000 DVD and Blu-Ray disks of Atlas Shrugged were recalled because: “On the back of the retail DVD and Blu-ray copies, the movie’s synopsis contradictorily states that this is an adaptation of Rand’s ‘timeless novel of courage and self-sacrifice.’”  The novel is, of course, about the dangers of self-sacrifice according to author Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy.  Isn’t there any place safe from the horrendous virtue of self-sacrificing love?

Isn't this ironic?

6) Circumcision for the Scoop: An Indonesian journalist wins an award for successfully infiltrating a dangerous rebel group, gaining their trust by undergoing bamboo-based circumcision rituals.  It kind of gives a whole new meaning to “all things to all people.”

5) Jesus is my QB: While last year was all about Michael Vick and Lilo, this year was all Tebow, as evidenced by this trend:

4) Sober’d Celebs: Speaking of Lilo, this year’s list of celebs on our prayer/sermon illustration list: Charlie Sheen’s spring meltdown, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child & divorce, and Blagojevich’s 14 year jail sentence.  Overall, it’s been a tame year for celebs, especially when Hollywood’s bad boys are spending their time hugging the cactus.

3) Mormons Mormons Everywhere: Is it just me, or has 2011 been the year of the Mormon? Between the Book of Mormon musical, BYU’s failed run for the NCAA Championship, Mitt Romney’s bid for the White House, (and, most noticeably for me, Vocal Point’s relative success on The Sing Off) you can’t seem to enter public discourse without hearing about ‘em.  I’m interested to see how Mormonism continues to respond to the national spotlight.  For now, though, it looks like the Mormons have out-Evangelical’ed the host of Evangelicals who wanted the squeaky clean religious reputation. (Fun exercise: type Mormon in the blog’s search bar and see how many times we at Mockingbird posted about Mormons this year!)

2) Fear and Controlling in Las Vagas: Remembering the theme of our 2011 Spring Conference, this certainly felt like a year out of control. Steve Jobs couldn’t control his death. Japan couldn’t control the weather.  Maybe the saddest anecdote would be the death of Ryan Dunn, Jackass star who did not die in one of the zany or dangerous stunts he performed on MTV’s Jackass, but from an alcohol related car crash on his way home from hanging out with friends in Pennsylvania.  His death was the third-most-googled search of 2011, showing how even our heroes and celebrity crushes can’t control their own lives or futures.

1) We’re Not Gonna Take It:  When Time named “the Protester” as their person of the year, they weren’t kidding. Between Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Occupy Wall Street, Greece, the Wisconsin Capital Building, there was a lot of protesting going on this year.  Sometimes, I imagine that the best way to understand Mockingbird is to see it as a protest against moralism, legalism, and those other bad –isms that have made their way into the church.  Maybe an oasis?  Either way, stuff ain’t right around here, and this year in particular, it’s getting kind pretty obvious.  Oh, and speaking of the Sing Off, my favorite reality show, this last video is for any mbird a cappella fans!

Honorable mentions: Rebecca Black’s Friday  is most watched *and* most disliked video on youtube, ultra-Orthodox Jewish Men heckle 8 year-old girl sparking women’s rights rally in Israel, Harold Camping’s twice-busted rapture predictions, and the Crystal Cathedral filing for bankruptcy.