275. in the meantime
Yeah, I didn’t post anything last week, sorry (I try to post at least one entry per week). And this post won’t be much either but finishing that entry on salvation took a lot out of me. I mentioned in that post that I had spent around ten hours on that entry. It was probably closer to twenty. Anyone who thinks writing isn’t work is just plain wrong (or far more talented than I and if that’s the case then I hate you…in love, of course).
In the meantime, some miscellaneous items:
1. I gots lots more in store for the Layman’s Theology series so stay tuned.
2. Speaking of that series, my pastor said some really nice things about my last entry on his blog and people left some really great comments. Pastor Eugene gets invited to speak all over the country (and the world) and so his blog has a wide readership. His little plug sent my hit counter through the roof which was tremendously encouraging.
3. I’m currently reading two books that really have my noodle stirring. The first is Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. Just the other day, I was reading this book during my lunch break and realized that he’s saying the same things I said, only much better and with more humor and with a lot more life experience to back it all up (among other things, he spent a summer in Calcutta with Mother Theresa before she died).
By the way, if what I’m writing is resonating with you at all, I highly, HIGHLY recommend picking up a copy of Irresistible Revolution. It’s by far the best thing I’ve ever read and I don’t say that lightly. You can read a very insightful review of the book here. And while I’m linking to their site, let me mention that the Hearts And Minds bookstore is a great place to find stelar christian writing – a welcome respite from the drivel that passes as christian writing in most christian bookstores (oops, was that too harsh?).
I actually found that book last week while looking for Brian McLaren’s new book, Everything Must Change, which as it turns out wasn’t out last week because it hit the shelves this week. I picked up McLaren’s book this week and I’m only a few pages into it but I can already see that reading this book along with Claiborne’s should be a very synergistic experience.
4. Speaking of synergistic pairings, I’ve been realizing that there have been a few other times in my life where I’ve read a pair of books that resonated with one another. A few examples:
Most recently, I’ve just finished The Cannon by Natalie Angiers, which I read along with The Language of God by Francis Collins (who I wrote about in post 271…btw, thanks for the book, Nate). Both books are about science – Angier approaching the topic from a strictly secular point of view while Collins talked about how science and religion need not be at odds with one another. Collins was instrumental in completing the Human Genome Project and currently serves as the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute so his scientific credentials are unquestionable. He also happens to be a devout christian who is troubled and saddened by the current climate where science and faith are commonly portrayed as irreconcilable ways of understanding reality. (As a note of warning, while I found Angier’s survey of the various disciplines of science to be fascinating, her writing style was too clever for its own good – when given the choice between explaining something in a way that was cute or clever, she always went with cute, and that gets really irritating really fast.)
Also, this blog probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for my reading Anne Lamott’s amazing memoir, Traveling Mercies and Donald Miller’s now classic, Blue Like Jazz. Prior to reading these books, I thought writing about spiritual matters had to be done with absolute reverence or mind-numbing, christianese-fueled mediocrity. Lamott and Miller’s writing showed me that you could write about life as a christian with verve, wit, clarity, and candor.
And since I’ve already mentioned McLaren, reading his previous book, The Secret Message of Jesus and N.T. Wright’s book, Simply Christian, was enlightening and helped me work out a lot of what I’ve been writing about in terms of how I’ve come to re-understand christianity. Both books try to step back and hear the teachings of Jesus the way those in the first century would have heard them. (On a side note, what’s up with McLaren’s titles? The Secret Message of Jesus was far too provocative and Everything Must Change is far too boring.)
5. And I’ll end with this.
I’ve written before about how early in 2006 I finally found contentment as a single person. Well recently I’ve begun to wonder if I should just conclude I’m one of those people who has the gift of singleness (see also 1 Corinthians 7).
I mean I’ve practically there already. I can count the number of dates I’ve had in the past ten years on one hand and that’s including instances where it was just hanging out. I’ve said before that when one is single for a long time, one of two things happens. You either keep lowering your standards until you find someone because you just can’t stand being alone or you keep raising your standards because it would take finding someone that much more amazing in order to give up the conveniences and comforts of being single. I’ve gone the second route to the point of absurdity.
If you must know, my preferences are as follows (in no particular order): ch
ristian, asian, smart, funny, outgoing, has short hair, wears glasses, is shorter than me, likes artsy movies, likes to read, likes coffee, prefers not to have kids, and has a British or Australian accent (and this is the short list). Know anybody like that?
Well, I recently saw a video on the TED website of a woman who comes close. She’s not asian and I’m not sure if she’s a christian and she doesn’t have an accent but she’s super funny, super smart, and the fact that she uses big words that I didn’t understand before looking them up does things in me that are unmentionable in polite company. Her name is Erin McKean and she’s the editor in chief (!) of The New Oxford American Dictionary. She’s also really cute.
If the video below doesn’t work, you can see her TED presentation by clicking here.