Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Brother's Karamazov

I know that technically I am not blogging any more, but I just finished "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky and there was a quote in the book that I wanted to be able to remember. It is found in part (d) of Chapter 1 in Book 6, and it is as follows:

'For everyone now strives most of all to separate his person, wishing to experience the fullness of life within himself, and yet what comes of all his efforts is not the fullness of life but full suicide, for instead of the fullness of self-definition, they fall into complete isolation. For all men in our age are separated into units, each seeks seclusion in his own hole, each each withdraws from the others, hides himself, and hides what he has, and ends by pushing people away from himself. He accumulates wealth in solitude, thinking: how strong, how secure I am now; and does not see, madman as he is, that the more he accumulates, the more he sinks into suicidal impotence. For he is accustomed to relying only on himself, he has separated his unit from the whole, he has accustomed his soul to not believing in people's help, in people or in mankind, and now only trembles lest his money and his acquired privileges perish. Everywhere now the human mind has begun laughably not to understand that a man's true security lies not in his own solitary effort, but in the general wholeness of humanity. But there must needs come a term to this horrible isolation, and everyone will all at once realize how unnaturally they have separated themselves one from another. Such will be the spirit of the time, and they will be astonished that they sat in darkness for so long, and did not see the light. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens.... But until then we must keep hold of the banner, and every once in a while, if only individually, a man must suddenly set an example, and draw the soul from its isolation for an act of brotherly communion, though it be with the rank of holy fool.'

Through reading the whole book, that passage really stuck with me, and I wanted to have the words for later if need be.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Missing Blog?

So I have not blogged in a long time. I really enjoyed blogging and looking back at the things that I was thinking/reading, etc. in the past. However, I also felt this huge burden to stay consistent, and I did not like that. Since blogging was not necessarily connected to anything integral in my life, I let that be something that falls into the background when things get busy.

Thanks to the 3 of you that check this blog regularly and hope that I have actually posted something.

Right now I am thinking that I will not be blogging in the future. I am growing increasingly skeptical of the "internet world" and I think I want to eliminate the possibility in my life that I would spend more time on the computer than with acutal people. I know that some people do find community through blogging, facebook and other media, so I will not make judgements. I can just say that for myself, I do not think it is the best use of my time. I do not want to be a Luddite, so I will continue to email and learn new things as they come along.

Laura and I are pointing our lives together toward a life of simplicity. For me, a life of simplicity includes getting to know my neighbors better and discovering ways to build authentic relationships, while simulataneously removing things from my life that might hinder this.

Henri Nouwen has a great quote that pretty much sums up what I have been thinking lately. I will put it here as he says it much better than I do:

More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.

- Henri Nouwen

So, if you want to know about my life, you and I will have to connect in old fashioned ways like getting together for lunch or talking on the telephone. We can be friends on facebook, but I will not be updating my facebook page, so we will need to communicate in other ways. I am not sure that this direction will last forever, so I might be back in the blogging world, but for now, I am signing off.


Monday, October 6, 2008

No, Cubs, No!

Well, that was disappointing....

Friday, September 26, 2008

Save the World on Your Own Time

I recently read "Save the World on Your Own Time" by Stanley Fish. It is a book about academic instruction and it was written for professors and upper-level administrators. I read this book for my job, and while it did not relate to much of what I do, it was helpful to have this insight on the debate about what college professors should be doing in the classroom.

The thesis of Fish's book is academics only have one job that they are trained and paid to do: to introduce students to disciplinary materials and equip them with the necessary analytic skills. Fish is arguing against instructors who use their classroom as a place to form political, religious, or other types of opinions. It is fine if students come away from a course with certain leanings, but a professor should never express her/his own opinions in the classroom and expect their students to follow suit. Hence the name of the book - save the world on your own time.

The book is a pretty dry read unless you are a college professor struggling with your pedagogy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hey Chicago, What Do You Say?

Every since I can remember, I have been a fan of the Chicago Cubs. I think that this is because I grew up a few hours outside of Chicago and my first visit to a major league ball park was to Wrigley Field. I would not consider myself a die-hard fan (I have never drank an Old Style and I do not go to all lengths to get WGN), but I can always tell you how they are doing and I can name almost all of the players.

I am pretty excited about the Cubs chances this year of winning it all. They clinched their division on Saturday, and just earned home-field advantage throughout the national league pennant race. Cubs fans have a strong inclination toward superstition, so I am taking a huge risk by putting this blog post out there. If the Cubs fall short of the ultimate prize, it could be the fault of this post. However, if they end the 100 year drought, I will go ahead and claim that this post is the reason.

One of my favorite thing about the Cubs is their cheesy theme song. If you have never heard it before, you have got to watch this video.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Shack

I recently read "The Shack" by William P. Young. I will not say too much about the book for a few reasons:

1. This book is really popular right now, and there are plenty of much better reviews out there
2. It is a pretty good book that is worth reading, so I do not want to spoil anything for anyone

My house church recently discussed the book in one of our gatherings. In preparation for that discussion, I did some online research to find what other people were thinking about the book. I was surprised to find the controversy surrounding the book and that there are a lot of Christian leaders who are vocal in their opposition to it. I was surprised by this because this book is a work of fiction and does not pretend to be some type of theological treatise. In the end, I think the book was good because it opens the door to have a common ground for starting a discussion on really complex issues involving the nature of God. You should read this book, not because it is 100% theologically accurate, but because it will force you to think about what you believe about God.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Godfather

Those of you who know me know that I have been sheltered from almost every aspect of popular American culture. As such, I just recently discovered the cultural phenomenon of the Godfather.

I started by reading the book by Mario Puzo, which I really enjoyed. I was completely fascinated by this world of friendship, respect, and favors. The story was compelling and the characters were well developed. I instantly decided that I want to be Don Corleone when I grow up, and so I have started to shape my worldview according to that perspective. Recently, I have gladly done "favors" for others as a sign of friendship and goodwill, confident that someday that favor might be returned when needed. The book ends with a masterful elimination of all enemies of the family, and really made the concept of redemptive violence look attractive.

As soon as I finished the books, I watched the first two movies (many people told me the 3rd movie was worthless, so I will wait to watch it). I really like the 1st movie and thought it did a good job of visually telling the story of the book. I also like the 2nd movie, and I thought it definitely showed the darker side of redemptive violence. In the end, Michael Corleone is either alienated or forced to kill most everyone that is close to him, leaving him utterly alone. I am glad I saw the second movie because it snapped me out of my illusion that I could lead this lifestyle. I guess I will stick to the difficult task of following Jesus and loving my enemies instead of "taking care" of them.