The Year (Really) in Review

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Monday, December 30, 2013

The Year (Really) in Review

This is the time to recap the year that was.

There are a number of ways to do it, all of which are interesting.  You can look at a year in terms of notable deaths, viral events, political rises and falls…

But how do you really get a twelve-month snapshot of a culture’s zeitgeist?

I would argue for two words:  “Google searches.”

I’m not saying that this will be what historians will mark in 10, much less 100 years…even less what is most significant.  But I will say that it may be the clearest window into our current soul.

So here we go with a few peeks into our inner world, courtesy of Google itself:

Top 10 “What” questions from 2013:

1.      What is twerking?

2.      What is ricin?

3.      What is DOMA?

4.      What is Molly?

5.      What is gluten?

6.      What is sequestration?

7.      What is Obamacare?

8.      What is lupus?

9.      What is Snapchat?

10.    What is bitcoin?

Top trending searches in 2013 from around the world:

1.       Nelson Mandela

2.       Paul Walker

3.       iPhone 5S

4.       Cory Monteith

5.       Harlem Shake

6.       Boston Marathon

7.       Royal baby

8.       Samsung Galaxy S4

9.       PlayStation 4

10.     North Korea

Top “life advice” searches:

1.       How to tie a tie

2.       How to file

3.       How to get a passport

4.       How to blog

5.       How to knit

6.       How to kiss

7.       How to flirt

8.       How to whistle

9.       How to un-jailbreak

10.     How to Vader

And finally, the people we were interested in:

1.       Paul Walker

2.       Cory Monteith

3.       Nelson Mandela

4.       Aaron Hernandez

5.       Adrian Peterson

6.       Miley Cyrus

7.       James Gandolfini

8.       Paula Deen

9.       Mindy McCready

10.     Trayvon Martin

Welcome to our world.

James Emery White


“What did the world search for in 2013?”,, read online.

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

The Year (Really) in Review