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Monthly Archives: August 2010

I’m reading two books right now, both interesting in very different ways. One is The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, and, among other things, it challenges Americans to realize just how affluent we are (which requires acknowledging that most of the world is not so fortunate). There’s a lot more to this book. But as far as brief summaries go, I feel like mine is fair.

The other book I’m currently reading is written by Eric Weiner, and it’s called The Geography of Bliss. In this book, Weiner, an NPR correspondent, travels to what he considers to be some of the happiest places in the world in an effort to determine whether people there truly are happy and why. As far as brief summaries go, this is pretty much dead on.

Claiborne’s book is grounded in his Christian faith, fueled by his conviction that we are called to do more. Ultimately, Claiborne advocates sacrificing personal pleasures for the sake of others (and for the sake of Christ).

Weiner’s book is grounded in his self-professed “grumpiness,” fueled by his belief that some people are better at the whole “pursuit of happiness” thing than others. Ultimately, Weiner seems to advocate a self-centered “what can I do to find happiness?” mentality.

These two authors have different backgrounds, different beliefs, and very different objectives. But at various points, they both draw conclusions that are almost eerily similar:

Both men conclude that wealth leads to increased isolation (Weiner refers to the progression from college dorms to apartments to a house…eventually, for the really wealthy, to an estate, and each step makes us increasingly insulated from others). And both conclude that those with less, those who can’t afford to isolate themselves from others, are happier because of it.

I can definitely relate to what these authors are saying…well, except for the wealth part.

In the last four years since I graduated college, I’ve found community is harder and harder to find. Especially now, since I work alone and I’m not really part of a church right now (since we’re helping with a church plant that won’t plant for another few months at the earliest). As for friends (yes, I do have some) and family, I don’t encounter them on a regular basis. I see them occasionally, when weekend plans are successfully arranged. Unless you count Facebook and Twitter and text messaging (I don’t), my wife is the only person who’s really part of my daily community right now.

And no offense to my beautiful wife whom I love very much, but that’s not good enough.

I realize this might sound like a pity party, but it’s not. It’s just that I’m starting to realize that I need to do my part to actively create community. Whether it’s getting to know the neighbors, getting more involved in local events, joining some sort of weekly thing-a-ma-jig, or perhaps even organizing something myself, I’ve realized that I need to make more of an effort to be part of a community.

And as Weiner and Claiborne suggest, I think my life will be happier because of it.

The community is out there. I just need to figure out the best way to stick my ugly mug right in the middle of it.

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I’m one of many Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers (the publishing house’s review-generating endeavor which has recently been renamed BookSneeze). Before you start thinking that being part of this makes me special (or before you think I think it makes me special), know that anyone can sign up for this here. It’s really a pretty sweet gig. You request a book, they send it to you (for free), and then you write a 200-word review on your blog and one other online site (such as amazon.com).

And it doesn’t have to be a positive review either. And I wasn’t sure my first BookSneeze review was going to be a positive one. Not at first.

Sure, the book’s initial pages were interesting. But like many nonfiction books I read, I assumed it was going to be much longer than necessary. I expected it to start lagging in chapter 3 or 4. And basically, I assumed the writer was going to take a couple hundred pages to write what would have been more compelling in a 1,000 word article.

But no, not so.

The Guinness brand and the Guinness family really do have a compelling story. The Guinnesses clearly impacted history in a major way. (And in many less-major, but still-intriguing ways…such as the creation of the Guinness Book of World Records…which, in hindsight, I feel I should have been smart enough to attribute to them all along. But I had no clue.)

The book begins with details of the history of the brewing industry (before it was an industry). These details interested me, but they might bore some readers. But after explaining a little bit about the history of brewing, the majority of the book focuses on the Guinness family—their choices, their faith, their triumphs, their mistakes, and the legacy that continues today.

Do I recommend this book?

Not to everyone, no. But if you enjoy history, yes. If you enjoy reading about pivotal business decisions and people who turned their back on business to wholeheartedly pursue a life of faith, yes. If you just enjoy a cold glass of Guinness Stout, um, maybe. But this book is really more about the family than the family’s famous product.

I enjoyed it. And it was a quick and easy read.

If you think you might like it, you probably will.

On one hand, I feel like an obligatory “I’m sorry I haven’t posted for three months” introduction is in order. On the other hand, I know no one has been checking in on a regular basis, routinely dismayed by the lack of a new post (nor should they have been).

So if not an apology, this post is going to be something of a transition—from the 3 months of zero posts to what I hope will be a more regular posting schedule.

LOST is over (and so is my mourning period), so I am no longer compelled to maintain that blog. Instead I plan to start posting here at least once a week (we shall see).

Posting about what? you may wonder. Good question.

Well, I’ve recently adopted a new goal for the completion of the first draft of my book, so I will be working toward that. This blog will provide a reprieve from the tedious and draining process of trying to pull all of that together. I’ve also found myself longing for a place to share some thoughts (the 140-character tweets just ain’t cutting it), and I started journaling (yes, with pen and paper) a few weeks ago, but it just felt too nineteenth-century for me. Honestly, it had more to do with the fact that I write slower than I type, and then, when I’m done, I can hardly read what I’ve written. So it was an ill-fated endeavor from the start.

Also, I’ve continued to do freelance projects on a regular basis, and I’ve been remiss about linking to those articles (or sharing things I’ve learned from those projects). I also plan to start doing that again here.

Meanwhile, I continue to manage a Snap Fitness in Delaware, Ohio. And the reason we moved here in the first place (to help with a church plant) is starting to come to fruition. You can find more about that here: http://delawarechurchplant.org

So I might have some thoughts on that (I expect I will). And I know I’ll be sharing some thoughts about what I’ve been reading.

So if any of that interests you, check back in. I’ll be posting again soon. I promise.