It’s been a wild week here at the 4thDave homestead, as wintery weather has knocked out power and weakened water supplies in my home state (where the stars at night are big and bright *clap clap clap clap*). My planned posts need to be bumped as other things take precedence.
In the meantime, here are a few links I’ve enjoyed recently. Have a great weekend and stay warm!
Pastor James Coates is the pastor of Grace Life Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His church has been meeting without following the restrictions imposed by the local government, which the congregation argues is not consistent with the facts on the ground about C19 spread in their area and which, they argue, oversteps the government’s realm of authority. As a result, Coates has been fined, warned, and finally arrested. The Cripplegate has some good coverage of the arrest, as well as some of the response and online pushback. I have to admit, I’ve gone back and forth on this, primarily because each side of this discussion is framing their position as unassailable and their opponents as deceitful, when the reality is that both “sides” seem to be shading the truth to their advantage. (Example: I’ve seen many people say that Coates was jailed for “preaching the Gospel.” That’s just not true; he was jailed specifically for violating the local restrictions in order to gather as a church. He could preach the Gospel online, or to a handful of people, and not be arrested for the same reasons–IOW, it’s not the content of his preaching that got him arrested, or the fact that he was preaching. It’s because he and his congregation made the choice to meet. That’s their right to act in line with their convictions, but let’s be honest about the reasons.) All of this raises some good questions about the right limits of government authority and the necessity of gathering as the Church–questions that will continue to be discussed for months to come.
Hey y’all! Just a quick post to fill you in on the books that have been on my nightstand (and in my Kindle app) this past month!
I was able to finish 3 books during the month of January (though I actually started one of them several months ago):
The Words Between Us, by Erin Bartels – This is a novel about a woman who is fighting to keep her small bookstore afloat when her hidden and troubling past starts to catch up to her. I really enjoyed both the way Bartels weaves in an intriguing light mystery sub-plot along with her main story about the secrets we keep and the lies we tell to keep them, as well as how shared stories and poems can bind us together in unexpected ways. This is a fun, quick read that you should check out.
The Practice, by Seth Godin – It’s probably clear from my past posts that I dig Seth Godin’s work, even if he’s become the cliched “business/marketing guru.” I’ll admit, his writing can be a bit formulaic (each book chapter is like a series of his blog posts–a series of productivity or marketing koans about Doing The Work or Shipping The Work or something else with Important Capitalization), but it’s a formula that works. Godin has a way of provoking that creative itch that I tend to suppress with busyness and grown-up responsibilities, so that I start to wonder if maybe I could get back to that novel I half-started writing. If you’re interested in some light reading about the mindset of people who create and produce meaningful work, this may be right up your alley.
Conscience, by Andy Naselli and J.D. Crowley – Our elder team has been reading through this one slowly this year (ironically enough, chosen before C19 and the endless mask debate), but it has been helpful in informing some of our thinking about how to navigate divergences in conviction and conscience within our church body. While I would disagree with the authors’ approach in some places, on the whole, I found it to be a helpful supplement to thinking throuh how to navigate church member disagreements, lead with wisdom, and rightly assess some of the debatable issues that have come up this year.
In addition to these, there were a few more books that I started reading but didn’t finish, due to time restraints and/or loss of interest:
The Birds, by Daphne Du Maurier – I started reading a collection of short pieces by Du Maurier but only got through the titular piece. I really enjoyed her writing style and want to get back to the collection sometime this year. And if you haven’t read her story “The Birds,” you should. It’s creepy and somehow even more bleak than Hitchcock’s film adaptation.
The Burning: The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, by Tim Madigan – I’m definitely coming back to this one before the centennial anniversary on June 1st. This terrible event in 20th-century American history deserves to be more well-known and studied, because the details are just awful. If you aren’t familiar with the Tulsa Race “Riot” (Madigan’s word “massacre” is a better descriptor) and the burning of “Black Wall Street,” you should do some research on it. Just horrific.
Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline – I enjoyed Cline’s earlier novel Ready Player One (80’s/90’s nostalgia, plus video games? C’mon!) as well as his other book Armada, but as I started reading this one, I just lost interest immediately. I don’t know if I just didn’t give it enough time or wasn’t in the right headspace, but I found the lead character to be much more unlikeable this go-round. Ultimately, I just didn’t care enough to keep going, and I don’t want to read a novel if it feels like work, so I dropped this one after a few chapters. I don’t expect I’ll come back to it. (If you think I should, make your case in the comments!)
There’s my January reading list–what’s yours? Comment below with what you’ve been reading lately!
And here’s a video by some friends of mine. Check it out, and if you like it, make sure to like, subscribe, comment, and tell ’em The4thDave sent ya by. Thanks!
I got a little backed up on my posting, so today, let’s just knock out some of my “Friday Feed” backlog, huh? Here are a bunch of links I’ve been compiling over the last few months that I’ve been meaning to serve up for your weekend edu-tainment and encouragement. I think they’re pretty neat. Hope you do, too!
Kevin DeYoung considers the question of preaching without notes. As a recently-converted “manuscript guy,” I can see both sides of the issue. Personally, I’m going to stick to manuscripting and just work on my delivery when I have the opportunity.
I found this Tim Challies article from August in my link folder, and my heart just ached for him anew. (For those who don’t know, the Challies’ son Nick, whom Tim mentions dropping off at school in the post, died suddenly a month ago of an undiagnosed heart condition [if memory serves].) If you haven’t read Tim Challies’ blog before, or haven’t read it lately, take some time to read through the posts related to Nick’s death. The reason I suggest this isn’t morbid curiosity or tacky onlooking, but to point you to Tim’s living example of how a rock-solid conviction of Biblical truth is an undeniable comfort and aid in even the darkest valleys of suffering. I can’t imagine what Tim and Aileen are going through–I shudder to even attempt such a mental exercise. But when I see them fighting tooth-and-claw to hold onto hope in the midst of such a tragedy, I can’t help but praise God for His mercy and comfort in our times of greatest need.
That’s all I have at the moment. Have a great weekend, my friends. See you back here next week!
[This is Day 17 of #Booktober! Stay tuned for more recommendations!]
What It Is: A challenging book about finding out how you can produce or contribute something unique and valuable in your work and life–and why you really should.
Why You Should Read It: Seth Godin is the productiving/marketing Yoda–if you’ve ever seen his blog, it’s like a series of zen koans for business productivity junkies. His books are thought-provoking while being simple and direct, and this one is the best I’ve read of his so far. In Linchpin, Godin argues for making yourself indispensable by figuring out the secret sauce that you bring to your organization and maximizing that. Another useful encouragement in this book is the idea of bringing your humanity to bear in whatever you do–rather than being a cog in a machine, Godin argues that your personality and passion can elevate your work in ways that simple efficiency cannot. Even if you’re not a business/marketing person, Godin’s meditations on the nature of work are worth a think.
I had posted a video by this Youtuber in the past talking about what it’s like for people who don’t know the “language” of playing video games to try to play them. This time, he takes a deeper dive into the open-world adventure game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and considers how different people approach problem-solving. I found this analysis to be intriguing, as someone who takes how he plays video games for granted. (Note: There may be strong language–it’s been a while since I’ve watched it all the way through, but I seem to recall that.)
Speaking of video games, I’ve mentioned before that I find video game music (VGM) to be a great work soundtrack. This one was one of my favorite mixes from the fall.
I mentioned yesterday that I’m reading Jeramie Rinne’s book on church elders (which I would definitely recommend to those starting out as elders/pastors). Here, Rinne recommends ways you can pray for your pastor/elders.
IsSupernaturalSexist?—There are certainly some things I disagree with in this piece by Kristen Devine over at Ordinary Times (differences in worldview and whatnot), but I found her analysis/defense of male-focused narrative to be pretty informative, from a writing/storytelling standpoint. Worth a look if you’re into that sort of thing.
That’s all I got this week. Have a good weekend, stay safe and healthy, and we’ll see you down the road!
In case you’re confused by Wednesday’s post, YES, I’m still going to post a #FridayFeed from time to time! Just because I don’t want to be just a curator doesn’t mean I’m not gonna share some cool links with you people!
Submitted for your perusal: 10 posts worth checking out this weekend.
I think Ann Handley is becoming my new Jeff Goins–someone whose posts I must compulsively share because they’re so good! This time, Ann describes the PANDA guide to vivid writing. Follow these steps if you want your writing to be full of panda mystery.
Hope you find something useful here. If you do, maybe pop into the comments below and let me know? That would help a lot. Thanks.
Jeremy Anderberg at AoM has 6 ideas for how to streamline your morning. I can attest that when I use these tips, it absolutely works. And yeah, they may seem obvious, but how often do we fail to do obvious, common-sense things?
Hope these were helpful. If you liked any of these links, I’d appreciate you leaving me a comment below (or hit me up on Twitter!) so I know what you find helpful.
I need to take a quick breather from the #52Stories sprint, so here’s a list of updates and interesting links for your perusal:
First, a quick sneak peak for what’s next on #52Stories: Lately, I’ve been reading stories by Phoebe Gilman and Wendell Berry, as well as working on notes for stories by Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, and Flannery O’Connor. I’ve got a big stack of short story collections on my shelf from the library, as well, so we are set and ready to go. I hope you’ve been enjoying these entries–I sure have!
We’re entering an exciting and challenging season at my church, as we’re contemplating merging with another congregation and reforming as a new body. (We would appreciate your prayers on this issue over the next several months!) This story about a successful church merger was an encouragement to read at such a time.
I forget at the moment who recommended the webcomic Wondermark to me (Amanda? Matthew? One of you lovely people…), but if you’re not reading it, it’s a hoot. This recent entry hits a little close to home, if you’re an expert procrastinator like I am.
This admonition from Tim Challies is a good reminder that creative work (especially things like blogging) are best when they’re focused on doing good by the audience.
Happy Friday, friends! Here’s another bushel-basket of links and videos I found interesting this week. Hope you find a few fun items for your weekend amusement and edification!
Seth Godin is a mastermind of business, marketing, and thinking outside the box. His bite-sized blog posts are short and insightful–like Zen koans about sales and professional relationships. Even if you’re not a sales or business person, each of his posts are worth a read, including this recent post about memorization vs. story-telling.
Okay, one more Godin post to check out that I really liked: “investing in slack” (as in margin, not the app-based business product).
This story from The Verge is very hard to read, but I’m glad it’s being told: 3 Facebook content reviewers break their NDA’s to talk about the horrible working conditions at Facebook’s content-review subcontractors and the painful emotional and psychological toll of reviewing vile and disturbing social media content 8 hours a day.
My friend Marian has some challenging words about how Southern Baptists can unintentionally signal their view of women’s contributions to church life through the questions they ask and the questions they don’t ask.
Some of you will reallyhate this article by David French, in which he argues that (some) evangelicals who supported the President’s election (and re-election) seem to be doing so out of fear instead of faith. While I don’t think he can make a blanket argument about all evangelicals, it could be applied to a not-insignificant slice of the president’s base.
I had a blog post idea on the back burner for the last month or so to look at 4 pictures of “toxic masculinity” in II Samuel 13-14 (the rape of Tamar and the subsequent murder of Amnon). But then Michelle Lesley went and pretty much covered what I was looking to say. So maybe just check out her excellent post about “bad-dad David.”
A friend recently challenged me on Twitter by arguing that those who seek to be complementarian in a Biblically-faithful way need to overcome the stereotypes and bad examples by presenting a clearer, nobler vision of this approach to gender roles. I agree heartily. This post from Hohn Cho over at Pyromaniacs is a great step in presenting that clearer vision.
Programming note: We have some big events coming up in our household this coming week (including the birth of the previously-mentioned daughter!). I’m going to try to schedule some posts this weekend to run over the next week or two, but if I can’t get that done, just know I’ll be back sometime after the July 4th holiday. Thanks for understanding.