#FridayFive: Super Song List Edition

Greetings, true believers!

For this week’s #FridayFive, I wanted to do something fun, so we’ll take a listen to five superhero/comic-book-themed songs. There are lots of good choices, but here are five I enjoy:

“Superman Song,” by the Crash Test Dummies — CTD is most well known for their 90’s hit single “Mmm Mmm Mmm” and lead singer Brad Roberts’ bass-baritone growl. However, a friend pointed this track out to me a few years ago, and I found it heart-wrenching and gorgeous. This live performance, years after the band had their big hit and faded into semi-obscurity, seems to carry an extra layer of feeling.

“Web-slinger, Hope-bringer” by Kirby Krackle — I just discovered this guy’s music recently, and I’m becoming a fan. This song is not only a great tune about Peter Parker’s burden of guilt and internal conflict, but it’s just a great rock song.

“Rise Above” by Reeve Carney, Bono, and The Edge — This song is a track from the much-maligned Broadway show, “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.” While the staging and production turned into a bit of the fiasco, some of the music was fantastic, and this track is a great example of that. Carney’s experience as the front-man of his eponymous band gave him the vocal chops needed to be a Broadway singer, and the tune is pure late-90’s/early-2000’s U2 goodness.

“The Ballad of Barry Allen” by Jim’s Big Ego — What I love about this song, other than the fact that it sounds so much like the music I loved back in college, is that it perfectly captures the frustration of Barry Allen (The Flash)–he will always experience life differently from anyone around him, and they’ll never understand how he sees the world.

“Superpowers” by Ookla the Mok — Okay, the last few tracks have been kinda down, so let’s close out with something a little goofier. You want a rock song jam-packed with a ton of both familiar and obscure comics references? Here you go. I was first introduced to this song by Steve Glosson on the “Geek Out Loud” podcast (which you should definitely check out, if you haven’t before). It’s a hoot.

Have a good weekend, gang. Excelsior!

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The4thDave Reads: A Bunch of Stuff back in March…

As promised previously, I had planned on writing reviews for every book I read this year. Obviously, since I have only posted one so far, I got a little behind on this goal. So here’s a quick catch-up post. I won’t be going as in-depth as I normally would (since these are going to be capsule reviews from memory), but I want to at least work on getting up to speed.

(Random fun-fact: All but the ESV volume and the unnamed final entry were books I had started before the year began but hadn’t yet finished. [Okay, “fun” was maybe overselling it.])

The ESV Reader’s Bible: Historical Books — Volume 2 of the 6-volume ESV Reader’s Bible covers Joshua-Esther. A few varied comments on this section of the Old Testament:

  • Leviticus gets a bad rap. For my money, I Chronicles is the hardest slog in the OT–and I say that will full respect and appropriate honor to the divinely-inspired Scriptures. Every word of the Bible is God-breathed and profitable, but when it’s your first time through, 15 or so chapters of lists of names is CHALLENGING. That said, having read straight-through to that point, it was exciting to start recognizing names and family lines.
  • My recurring thought throughout Samuel-Kings-Chronicles: even the very best human kings are fallible and frustrating, which only emphasizes what a good king Jesus is. He will never fail us.
  • Another recurring thought: how easily we fall into idolatry and sin, letting our fear and greed and pride choke out all good sense and memory of what God has commanded us and accomplished for us. As tempting as it would be to read these stories of Israel’s unfaithfulness and shake my head in disbelief, I have to be honest and say, “This is me. This is all me.”

A Little Book about the Christian Life, by John Calvin — This selection of newly-translated essays was a giveaway from Ligonier Ministries. The book design was really nice–minimalist, compact, clean. Burk Parsons translated and updated these 5 chapters of Calvin’s Institutes, and as you can imagine, they were dense, edifying, and thought-provoking. I read this one really slowly, maybe a paragraph or two at a time. It stayed on my bedside table and became a source of meditation and contemplation just before bed, most nights. I have to admit, I can’t recall a specific quote or point that was particularly meaningful. But on the whole, I benefited from this small volume precisely because it helped me focus my thoughts on the Lord as I ended each day–and that’s something of value.

The World-Tilting Gospel, by Dan Phillips — Okay, confession time: I started this book…4 years ago. In my defense, it was right before I got married, and in the chaos of merging two households and lives, the book got shuffled around and eventually recirculated into the TBR shelf. I kept meaning to get back to it, and finally (finally!) did. This book examines the core truths o the Gospel, and then addresses how they force us to look at the world differently. The chapters in which Pastor Phillips details the implications of the Gospel on justification and sanctification are particularly fine. However, my favorite bits are where he addresses false understandings of the Christian life, such as the “muzzy mysticism” of those who abstract the truths of the Scriptures in the attempt to be “spiritual.” Phillips is a clear thinker, and his writing is bracing and direct.

The Gospel According to Jesus, by Dr.John MacArthur — John MacArthur is often associated with what’s called the “lordship controversy,” and this book is his full-throated response to those accusations. What was the controversy? MacArthur had the audacity to preach and teach that if Jesus is your Savior, He is also your de facto Lord, and there is no such thing as “making” Jesus the Lord of your life. MacArthur insists on and thoroughly demonstrates from Scripture that Christian faith without a recognition of and submission to Jesus’ authority as Lord is no Christian faith whatsoever. While opponents of this view claim that it suggests a salvation by works, MacArthur dismantles this notion by using the Scriptures themselves to demonstrate that the call of salvation is a call to discipleship and allegiance to a new Master. This book is excellent and incredibly profitable, no matter where you are in your Christian walk.

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There was one more book I read (technically, listened to) at the end of March, but it’s part of a larger series and it would only do to review the entire series together. I read the first volume in March, and Books 2 and 3 in April (the only books I completed that month, sadly). Once I finish Book 4 and the supplemental stories, I’ll provide a full review at that point.

You may be saying, “Good grief, tell us what book, man!” Nah, I’ll keep that a surprise. But I’ll say this–depending on how the last volume goes, this series may just overtake The Chronicles of Narnia as my favorite children’s series of all time. And that’s saying something.

Anyway, ‘ere we are.

Have you read anything fun lately? Comment below and let me know what should go on my reading list!

“Guess who’s back…back again…”

“Good grief, Dave, the first post in 2 months, and you lead with a 20-year-old Eminem reference?”

Shaking the rust off, dude.

“What about all those promises to post reviews of books you read this year, remember that? Regular content, you said. I assume you *have* been reading books. So where are the reviews?”

Yeah, about that…

“You have talked frequently about spending less time on social media and more time ‘creating.’ You even wrote a Medium post about that. And that was it–just talk. Are you still on Twitter and Facebook?”

I deleted the apps off my phone.

“What about the browser? Are you logged in to them on your phone’s browser?”

“Look, man, I don’t mean to come at you so hard, right out of the gate. But you keep telling me that you want to write consistently. You have interesting ideas to explore. You wanted to do a whole series of posts about The Federalist Papers, remember? You wrote 4 or 5 posts before stopping. That was 16 months ago. And it was an interesting idea. You should follow up on that at some point.”

Yeah, I keep thinking about that.

“There are book reviews to write, sermon manuscripts to share, maybe even some short stories or poetry. Remember? You used to write poetry, too.”

That’s true. My wife really enjoys when I write poetry.

“See? All I’m saying is, it may be time to start delivering on the promises and good intentions you’ve been carrying around for all these years. How old are you now, 38?”

I’m 37. Birthday’s in October.

“Okay, then, 37. How about this? We start now with some regular content. Start flexing the ol’ creative muscles. And then we start working on the manuscript to your NaNoWriMo novel, Good Shepherd, and get that baby done before 40 comes around.”

That’s…not a bad idea. I still really like that story.

“You’re right, it’s not a bad idea–it’s a great idea. That story should be told. But we gotta baby-step this one. It starts with writing consistently.”

Okay, I’ll do it. Starting today, I’m gonna–

“STOP. Stop making promises. No more resolutions. Just do it. Don’t tell me about it. Just do it.”

Okay. Today, then.

“Today.”

Done.

#FridayFive: More Medium Meanderings!

Happy Friday, friends and readers! I’m back (finally!) with another 5 Medium posts I’ve read recently that I thought you might find interesting!

“It’s Time To Stop Feeling Guilty About Everything”–Stephen Altrogge gives us a great reminder about the difference between godly guilt (conviction) and fleshy/worldly “guilt.” It’s helpful for me to be reminded that some of my “guilty feelings” are not from God, but are self-imposed and dumb.

“One Year Without A Smartphone”–I’ve been reading a lot of posts lately about the pros and cons of pulling back from technology/social-media, and I found this post by Noah Lekas to be pretty thought-provoking, particularly the idea that intentional “boredom” is a boost to creative thinking. I’m not getting rid of my smartphone anytime soon (especially since I’m still paying it off, which galls me, but that’s another issue), but articles like this help me to regard this tech a bit more suspiciously.

“This is the ONLY Thing You Need To Do To Become a Multi-Millionaire”: Okay, I’ve read more than a few Medium posts, and many of the productivity/rise-and-grind/go-get-em posts seem like they follow a template, or at least fall into a series of cliches and tropes. Well, Luke Trayser nails the tone and ridiculousness of such posts with this great satirical piece. Worth a look…unless you don’t want to be MEGA-SUCCESSFUL!!!

“How 2,000+ random coffee dates changed our company culture”: I found this piece thought-provoking, particularly with how it may be transferred to a church context. Obviously, you would make adjustments for the sake of wisdom and propriety, but in larger churches, it might be an intriguing way to introduce people and families who don’t know each other.

“Forget Atticus: Why We Should Stop Teaching ‘To Kill A Mockingbird'”: Normally, I would put such articles into the “this is why we can’t have nice things” pile, but this one caught my attention. At the risk of sounding dismissive, the author’s issue with TKAM is not that the troubling language and content is offensive, but that the book’s protagonist isn’t “woke” enough. Again, I have a tendency to shake my head at “revisionist interpretations” of classic (or at least much-beloved) literature, but I was interested by the author’s argument: Atticus Finch, forever heralded as a beacon of progressive color-blindness, still holds the experience of black people at arm’s length. By teaching children to emulate Finch, this author posits, children learn to be paternalistic, classist, less opposed to racist language and thought as much as mildly disgusted by and dismissive of it. FWIW, I don’t agree with the author’s overall premise, but I think his reasoning is worth considering as we take another look at this literary figure.

Bonus Video: Cal Newport is a smart guy. Here’s a TED talk from him, arguing why you and I should stop using social media:

Feeding Habits.

I noticed a couple of things recently about my online reading habits that I thought might be helpful:

One:

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a tendency to bookmark a lot of blog posts and news articles but can never keep up with them. Almost immediately, I develop an ever-growing backlog of posts, and the thought of catching up on all this material that I was (at least at one point) interesting in reviewing becomes too daunting to consider.

I went through my Feedly bookmarks list, which at that point was over 500 links strong, and started deleting stories that I wasn’t interested in reading anymore. As I did so, I noticed that much of what I was deleting were news stories and hot takes about “current events” that, up to a year later, now don’t seem very pressing or even informative. So many breathless responses to political events or online squabbles, so many “five results of the latest decision by X” that didn’t pan out the way the author thought (or at all).

I was reminded of a truth that everyone knows but that hides in plain sight: much of what we consider “urgent” and “newsworthy” won’t matter in six months, or a year, or ten years, or eternity. They are blips and shadows, made of nothing and gone.

The more I think on this, the fewer times I hit “bookmark.” I find myself now, scanning what might amuse or inform, and saving what I want to ponder that may actually matter.

I’ll get around to it all someday, I’m sure.

Two:

Speaking of feeds, I was looking at my Medium bookmarks again. (Remember when I said I wanted to do a weekly round-up of things that were interesting? Yeah, I’m gonna try to get back to that this week.)

You can tell a lot about the state of your heart/mind by what stories draw your interest. I would encourage you (even dare you) to try it, just to see what it is that draws your attention these days.

(And there is also the question of curation: we can limit or expand what stories we search and see on such sites. Mainly, I’m pulling from the few topics I’ve marked as interests for the site’s algorithm [that’s a whole ‘nother discussion] as well as sites I follow. I think the idea still fits, though.)

In the interest of authenticity, here’s a sampling of what my Medium bookmarks reveal about my heart interests:

  • I haven’t given up on the idea of writing novels, even if I’m not following through by actually, ya know, writing.
  • I’m interested in procrastinating less / producing more; having a killer morning/evening/lunchtime/workday routine; sleeping more; sleeping less; drinking lots of coffee; leveling up my life in a host of potentially contradictory ways.
  • I’m feeling politically orphaned, and want to read other people who agree that being conservative doesn’t necessarily mean riding the GOP bandwagon all the way down the line. I’m also interested in hearing about the experiences of people I disagree with politically, but only as much as it doesn’t annoy me greatly.
  • I want to quit social media. Badly. But I can’t seem to do it.
  • Yeah, I really want to be more productive, it seems. So many #LIFEHACKy things.
  • I’m curious about self-publishing my books, and have been collecting all sorts of tips and tricks.
  • I like thinking about storytelling in film and books, and how those things speak to cultural and spiritual discussions.
  • Posts about fitness and fatness, about food and exercise, about healthy self-image.
  • No surprise, an up-tick in articles about fatherhood at the end of last summer.
  • “Social media is terrible! Let’s read 300 articles about it.”
  • Posts about Christianity and about marriage are coming up more frequently in recent months.
  • Morning routines! Habit-building! Do more! Make more! Ship more! Ugh.
  • …And after you finish working out at 5 a.m. like all the #LIFEHACK #WINNING people are, isn’t it time to start working on that book, Dave?

There ya go. I…I’m gonna go take some time to ponder my life. I’ll catch ya later.

The4thDave Reads: …the Pentateuch?

Whew. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

As I noted in my last post (last…uh…year), my reading goals for 2018 are two-fold: reading only physical books that I owned as of 12/31/17, and to write up a review or reflection for every book I finish in 2018. Good plan, right? It *should* produce steady blog content, and it helps step up the fight against tsundoku–not that it would prevent me from collecting more books, but that it would force me to prioritize the books I already own.

Things haven’t gone quite as expected. By this time last year, I had already read 5 or 6 books. But this year, for whatever reason, I’ve really been struggling to read finish books. Oh, I have 5 books that I’m currently “reading” but none of them consistently. I’m like a literary hummingbird–I’ll get 50 or 100 pages into a book, lose interest, and jump to something else. I’m struggling to stick with anything heavier than light fiction, so it’s becoming work to press on through much of anything.

As it happens, the only book I’ve actually completed cover-to-cover so far this year is the Pentateuch–specifically, the first volume of the ESV Reader’s Bible 6-volume set. (A very generous Christmas gift from Mrs. 4thDave.) Since it was a complete cover-to-cover read (I finished it in mid-January), I’m counting it. SO here I am, with some thoughts–not a review, just some reaction.

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For those who may not know, I’m a Christian. (If you didn’t know that, it means you’re new here–welcome!) This means I believe the Bible is infallible, meaning it makes no mistakes; that it’s inerrant, entirely without error; that it is authoritative, because it is God-breathed and carries the weight of His commands; and that it is completely sufficient for everything it intends to direct and describe (meaning it won’t tell me how to fix a car, but it will tell me how to live with integrity before God and others).

Any honest reader (let alone student) of Scripture will admit that some parts of the Bible are a bit more challenging to read and understand. There’s a reason that few churches are advertising sermon series through the book of Deuteronomy — which is a shame, because there’s great stuff in Deuteronomy. Because of this, I wonder how many church-going Christians have ever really read through the sections of the Bible that are more difficult to wrestle through, like the Old Testament Law or the less-Christmasy passages in the Prophets. I have to admit that my familiarity with some of these passages and books is passing at best. There are definitely sections of the Old Testament that I’ve never actually read before.

My hope is to change this in the next few months by sitting for up to 30 minutes a day and just reading–not studying, not analyzing, just drinking it in. I try to pray as I begin that the Holy Spirit would “open my eyes to behold wonderous things in His law” (Psalm 119:18). And then I just read, seeking to learn and understand.

Some sections are easy, some sections are challenging or even a bit offensive, but I always approach the text with the firmly-held conviction that all of it is true, trustworthy, reliable, and authoritative. And that has made all the difference in how I read even the hard parts of the Old Testament.

My reading this year has reminded me of many things, but two of the most clearly demonstrated themes in my reading thusfar are: 1) God is always faithful to His word, even if man is faithless to his; and 2) all of God’s purposes come to be, despite the conniving and scheming of men. These truths have been a comfort to me already this year.

If you haven’t read through the five books of Moses in a while, I would encourage you to do so. Just set some time aside, take up the Bible, and read. Read with an open and submissive heart, trusting that the loving and sovereign God of the Bible will teach you through His Spirit. And be encouraged that the God who controls all things will never break His promises to His people.

My 2017 Reading List, and Top Reads of the Year!

A year-end tradition here at the 4thDaveBlog, so here ya go–what I read in 2017 (in dozens of bulleted lists)!

January

  • A Year of No Sugar – Eve Schaub
  • Why Pro-Life? – Randy Alcorn
  • Silence – Shusaku Endo

February

  • The Only Living Boy (vol. 1-3) – Gallaher/Ellis
  • Silent Night – Stanley Weintraub
  • Narrative of the Life… – Frederick Douglass
  • March: Book One – Lewis/ Aydin / Powell
  • The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Under Our Skin – Benjamin Watson

March

  • The Long Walk – Stephen King
  • The End of the Affair – Graham Greene
  • The Circle – Dave Eggers

April

  • The Truth of the Cross – RC Sproul
  • The Final Days of Jesus – Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor
  • Year of No Clutter – Eve Schaub

May

  • Unparalleled – Jared Wilson
  • Reverberation – Jonathan Leeman
  • The Girl With All the Gifts – M. R. Carey

June

  • The Dip – Seth Godin
  • Linchpin – Seth Godin
  • The Wonder-Working God – Jared Wilson (audio)
  • Turning Pro – Steven Pressfield

July

  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport
  • Husband-Coached Childbirth – Dr. Robert Bradley
  • Family Worship – Dr. Donald Whitney

August

  • Teammate – David Ross
  • Call for the Dead – John LeCarre
  • Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
  • The Cubs Way – Tom Verducci

September

  • Secret Identity – Kurt Busiek / Stuart Immonen
  • Horrorstor – Grady Hendrix
  • DC Rebirth Deluxe Ed. – Johns/Frank/VanSciver/Reis/Jimenez

October

  • Why We’re Protestant – Nate Pickowicz
  • Reformation: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow – Carl Trueman

November

  • The Down-grade Controversy: Collected Writings of CHS – Spurgeon
  • Playing Saint – Zachary Bartels
  • Playing Saint: All Souls Day – Zachary Barrels
  • Can I Be Sure I’m Saved? – RC Sproul

December

  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  • Life Together – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Desire and Deceit – Al Mohler
  • Parnassus on Wheels – Christopher Morley
  • Batman: I Am Gotham – Tom King / David Finch
  • The Haunted Bookshop – Christopher Morley

 

Final Tally: 44 books

Genre Breakdown:  

  • Non-fiction: 26
  • Fiction: 13
  • Graphic Novels: 5

Thoughts on This Year’s List: 

  • I thought I had read more fiction than that. I guess it seemed like more because it ran in spurts. But over a third is still a pretty good ratio, I guess.
  • I read a LOT of short books this year. If we break it down by pages read and average length, it would be significantly down from years past. Honestly, I’m okay with that. This year, I didn’t have the benefit of long commute times, so I squeeze in reading where I can. I have to admit, I also gave a lot of time away to TV–I don’t watch a LOT and I try to be discerning and specific with what I will watch, but there’s some good TV shows out lately, and those stories have been eating up reading time for me as well.
  • What’s not included on this list are about a dozen books I started and never finished, either because I ran out of year or just decided to give up. That never used to happen; once i’d start a book, I would grit it out to the end. However, in recent years, I’ve realized that life is too short to muddle through books that can’t hold your interest. It’s better to walk away from a book you’ve invested 100 pages in, so that the time it would take to read the other 200-300 pages can be devoted to another book you’ll enjoy more.
  • I also attempted some theme-months, with mixed success. I was able to finish 4 books about the African-American experience in February, and I have a list of others to check out in the future. That was really helpful to me, to walk in someone else’s shoes for a bit. I tried to make October “Reformation Month,” but didn’t get through much. Finally, I had a bound collection of five “Christmas tales” by Charles Dickens. I made it through “A Christmas Carol” (which I loved), but immediately got bogged down by “The Chimes.” I just stopped caring. Maybe next year!

My Top-Five Recommendations from This Year’s Reading List (in no particular order):

The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B DuBois — This book helped me start to understand how black experience and thought began taking shape and being expressed in the 20th century. I could recognize ideas and phrases that would be echoed in other writers (like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ work that I read last year). I found this to be a challenging and informative read, and I was the richer for reading it. It also emphasized for me personally how important it is to read widely and read outside your own experience (something I would have acknowledged abstractly but now see the importance of in a new way).

The Cubs Way – Tom Verducci — Yes, I’m a Cubs fan, so a book about their world championship season is a no-brainer. But even if you’re not a Cubs fan, if you like sports writing AT ALL, this book is well-worth your time. Verducci takes the reader inside the nuts and bolts of a major league organization and tells the individual stories that make sports so inspiring and exhilarating. Verducci is a gifted writer, and this book is one of my favorite sports books ever (subject matter aside).

Playing Saint / Playing Saint: All Souls Day – Zach Bartels — I’ve praised Zach Bartels’ work before, but I’m here to do it again. These books are just great. Bartels takes the supernatural mystery/thriller genre and just works it like a master. If you want a thrilling, dark page-turner, these two books are right up your alley. (Sensitive readers should note that both books deal with serial killers, and some of the crimes are described…if not graphically, then at least effectively. So, be advised of the content concerns there.)

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens — This is like picking the Patriots to be Super Bowl contenders. “No, duh, Dave, are you for real? A Christmas Carol is good?” Yes, it is. But I’m picking it because I think people forget exactly how good it is. Dickens is an incredible writer, who spends pages on description because he wants the reader to see and hear and smell his London setting. Plus, the novel gives you details and side comments and scenes and conversations that are always cut out of film or stage adaptations of the story, and it’s a delight to re-discover those elements of the story that we don’t see in other media. I hadn’t actually read this story since high school, and I’m glad I revisited it. You should, too.

Honorable Mention: Secret Identity – Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen — This graphic novel was better than I expected, so I wanted to give it a shout-out. It’s the story of a boy from the Kent family who grows up in Kansas–no, not that boy. This boy lives in a world where Superman is a comic book character–yet, his parents decide to name him Clark anyway. Young Clark Kent grows up to resent his super-powered namesake…until he develops strikingly similar superpowers of his own. He then must decide if he actually wants to take up the fictional mantle in the “real” world. I thought this take on the Superman mythos was a lot of fun, and would definitely recommend it to even casual fans of the original character.

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What’s Up for Next Year: Next year, I’m going to do battle against tsundoku by reading only* books I physically own as of December 31st, 2017.  I will also be doing something new for next year’s reading list — I’m going to try writing a capsule review (or longer, if I feel the urge) for every book I read in 2018. (Yay! More blog content!) So that means, by the end of the year, if you’ve been hanging tough with me, you’ll already have a good idea what my top-five will look like! As always, this is subject to change; I am a fickle fellow when it comes to New Year resolutions and reading plans. But why not try, right?

 

[*I’m leaving myself a little grace/wiggle-room in case I “have to” read things for church purposes (e.g. book studies, men’s groups, etc.). But I’m not going to seek out any recreational reading other than what is on my TBR shelves as of this coming Sunday. Probably. I’ll try.]

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So there you have it. My 2017 reading list.

Did you read anything great in the past year? Comment below and let me know!

Good gravy, two and a half MONTHS?!?

I’ve let you down, bloggy blog. I’ve been neglectful.

Let me esplain — no, there is too much, let me sum up:

  • I’m a daddy to an almost-five-month-old, and that’s still an amazing thing. She’s an absolute delight. I’ve got 3 pictures of her staring back at me around my desk, and even in those 3 pictures, she has already changed more in appearance than I care to consider. It’s still a bit surreal to me, having a daughter. Part of that is because I don’t get to see her for long stretches every day (unlike my beloved wife, who can’t get away from her for more than a couple hours at a time). But it’s also because she’s starting to develop her own personality, and it’s now catching up to me that in the next few years, this fifteen-pound, wriggling, squealing, squeezable little person is going to push out teeth, crawl, walk, run, start speaking words and then sentences, learn to dress herself and feed herself, and eventually learn to read and count and create. She’s a person made in the image of God, a person with a soul, a person whom my wife and I are tasked with shepherding and caring and disciplining. It’s…daunting. Exciting. But intimidating.
  • Marriage is excellent, 3 1/2 years in. I think we’re out of the “honeymoon” phase, but that is in no way meant to indicate anything negative. I think we’re really settling in and getting to know each other and serve each other better. I’m also seeing how intention is paramount when it comes to being a husband. It’s easy to coast and give half-effort. But that isn’t loving my wife well. I’ve got to try harder, be better than I am naturally. That can be a challenge, on days when I want to be lazy and selfish. It is a choice to walk out the role I’ve been given: “die” first, in all the little ways I need to in order to love and care for my family. Die to my own agenda, die to my own selfish desires. Be like Jesus.
  • Work is good. Busy. I feel like I’m contributing. That’s pretty cool.
  • Church is good. I’ve been getting opportunities to preach, both at my home church and elsewhere as there is need. That’s been a challenge and a blessing. And I’m back to being part of the Sunday School teaching rotation, though I’m sharing the load with more people, which is both good and bad.
  • Creatively, not much is happening. There is still a book or three I’d like to write, and those ideas keep bubbling up to the surface, but I’m in a season where other things need to take precedence. And I’m part of an upcoming web series that is still “upcoming,” since post-production has hit some delays with staffing and resources, but we’re hoping for a release by the summer. I’ll let you know about that when I have more info. But that’s just it. Basically, all my creative energies are being diverted into just taking care of what’s in front of me. Hoping for more in the future, but other things must take precedence.

That’s pretty much it for an update.  I’ll have a post up tomorrow with my end-of-year reading list (you didn’t think I’d forget about that, did you?) and maybe another short post about my 2018 reading plans.  (Holy cow, 2018, kids.)

Until then, I remain your obedient servant, T4D.

 

#FridayFive: Another 5 Interesting Medium Posts

Hey folks! Back this week with another group of Medium posts that I found informative and/or challenging, and that I think you may appreciate:

Confessions of A Failed Female Coder – Caroline McCarthy tackles the topic of women in STEM (specifically in Computer Science) and provides some perspective on the infamous “Google memo” by James Damore. McCarthy’s insights on how education and learning style influence the way girls interact with STEM subjects gave my wife and I some good things to discuss regarding how we will raise and educate our daughter.

Las Vegas, Murder, and Gun Control – Rick Thomas wrestles with some of the political/cultural conversation around the latest mass shooting in the US. Most helpful for me was his breakdown of the 3 arguments used by cultural evangelists, in regards to guns.

You Weren’t Very Persuasive Today – Cody Libolt provides some good ideas on how to have productive and persuasive discussions with people with whom you disagree. In an age of people screaming past each other into the digital abyss, this post is worth some consideration.

Killing Television – Michael Marinaccio cites a few Pew Research results about the demographics of news consumption and media trust, as he considers the possible effect of a generational shift from visual news back to print news as a more trusted resource.

Why You Should Quit Reading Paper Books – I disagree with Andy Sparks’ premise entirely*, as do apparently ALL of the commenters (the answer to your problem, Andy, is a combination of marginalia, pocket notebooks, and highlighters), but I’ll admit he has some useful tips for how to capture and review ideas and quotes from your digital reading. So take that for what it’s worth, and leave the rest, I guess.

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There you go, gang. Some fun reading for the weekend.

If you’re on Medium, let me know! I’d love to check out your work. I’m on Medium, too, if you want to follow me there–though I haven’t produced much of anything in that forum. Yet.

Have you read any useful or challenging articles online lately? Post the link in the comments below!

 

 

*Much to the possible dismay of Mr. Sparks, I’m actually playing around with the idea of reading EXCLUSIVELY print books in 2018, and limiting myself to books I actually own as of January 1. I figure it’s a good way to battle my tsundoku tendencies.

#FridayFive: 5* Interesting Stories I’ve read recently on Medium.

So I have a confession to make: I use the “bookmark” function on Medium entirely too much.

If you aren’t familiar with it, Medium is a free public blogging platform in which anyone can submit articles. (And I mean anyone.) If you subscribe to certain people’s feeds or click that you are interested in certain topics, you can get a daily (or weekly, I imagine) digest email from the site with links to articles that might interest you. And you can even “bookmark” things you want to read later.

What happens when you bookmark a whole lot and don’t actually read that much? You get a backlog of articles that may number into the several hundred. Or so I’m told.

So I figured, at least for a few weeks, I was going to go through this backlog and pull stories to tell you about that I found interesting, informative, funny, and/or generally worth reading.

Disclaimer: I will try to warn you in advance, but in these posts I will link to articles with bad language from time to time. I’m going to trust that you and your conscience will make good choices, based on your convictions. If I link to the article, it’s because I think the content is worth reading, despite objectionable verbiage.

So here you go–5* stories I’ve read recently that I thought were worth sharing:

I Envy Your Fake Life — Stephen Altrogge talks about the confluence of social media and comparison. I appreciated his honesty, and the reminder of how God’s sovereignty speaks to our contentment.

The Only 3 Types of Writing People Actually Want to Read — Okay, so a lot of the stuff I read on Medium has to do with content creation, writing, publishing, etc. This piece by Ayodeji Awosika was a very useful and direct reminder about what people want to get out of online content (or really, any written content).

Read Like You’re on a Diet — Okay, this one hit a little close to home, as Cody Musser describes the glut of reading material online, the temptation to try to catch it all, and how overwhelming it can be. He’s also frank about how writers’ motives can cloud how good or useful content is. And he emphasizes the need for creating, not just consuming. Worth considering. (NB: language)

23 Ways to Immediately Get more Traffic to Your Blog — Okay, this post is SEO’d to the max. Unsurprising, since it’s Jeff Goins, who’s a pro at platforming. BUT it’s also got some good and useful ideas for boosting the number of eyes that land on your writing, so if you’re into such things, this is a good one to read.

Reading to Learn: Why You Shouldn’t Read Beginning-to-End and What You Should Do Instead — Michael Motta discusses what looks like a very effective method for reading non-fiction (especially textbooks) with an eye to better retention and comprehension. If you’re in school, this may especially be worth a look.

BONUS:

Jesus Took Away My Freedom of Speech… — Couldn’t wait until next time to include this one. Billy Schiel reminds us in this great article about the implications of being servants of Jesus Christ, including how it affects the way we speak (or blog or tweet). Don’t miss this one.

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There you go: the first “Medium” edition of the #FridayFive. If you are already on Medium and are so inclined, you can follow me there. No, I don’t have much content up at this point, but I will be rectifying that in the next few weeks–both with cross-posts from this blog and some Medium-exclusive content as well. Looking forward to that!

Have a great weekend, do something fun, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s Day if you’re a believer, and I’ll be back next week (hopefully).