I do a lot of reading, writing, and researching these days. I come across things I keep, things I want to share, and things I think others need to know about. These are often outside of the trail I’m on, but things I want to chase anyway. I’m still trying to write actual pieces and articles for this blog, this is a simply place to share the trails with you, and maybe you’ll find one to chase on your own, or together. Enjoy. – MK
Things I’m reading:
I’ve been waiting for Justin Earley’s book, The Common Rule to release for about six months, so to get a hard copy in the mail this week was a real treat.
The book is a work around habits, which according to Justin, ‘shape you more than you shape them.’ I’ve long been a fan of intentional habits, identity formation, and thoughtful living (Dallas Willard caught me young with The Divine Conspiracy) and Justin’s work is a standout addition to this genre of work.
The crux of the book centers around 4 daily habits, and 4 weekly habits – both of which are rhythms of embrace and resistance.
If I’m following what he’s suggesting, it means that each day I’m taking a moment to kneel in prayer 3x a day, I’m in the Word before I’m on my phone, I’m eating one meal with other people (engaged in conversation), and I’m spending an hour a day with my phone off (which enough reports tell you makes a significant mental difference in your presence with those around you).
On a weekly basis, I’m spending one hour a week in conversation with a friend, cultivating relationships (which is most preferable in person, fully present), I’m fasting from something for 24 hours, I’m taking a sabbath (to remind myself of being a creature with limits who should rejoice in their Creator), and I’m saving all the passive use of media (scrolling, surfing, binging) for a scheduled block of time rather than all the snippets of time, presence, and focus that I hand over between lights, pauses in conversation, or pings from my phone.
And the end of these habits is the formation of a person who is present, growing in love for God and love of our neighbors.
Justin’s voice is engaging and helpful as he shares what he’s wrestled through to make these thoughts clear. I have found myself thankful for a lot of sentences in this book that I can tell are the fruit of sustained thought. In fact, I have been using a nighttime blessing he wrote as part of our bedtime routine for the last eight months or so, and it is sowing the truth of God’s love into our children with succinct language that I’m thankful for.
Might just be something to what he’s saying.
In the same vein, when I first read Deep Work, I realized Cal Newport was a disruptive thinker within a social media generation. I’ve had his latest work, Digital Minimalism for about a week and a half, and I’m in the final chapter. Newport’s call is to reduce passive use of technology for the sake of re-instilling high quality leisure and activity to our lives – which is outside of our screens and in the real world with real people. There is better life, better habits, and greater work for us outside of the digital kingdoms we have been lured to control through companies monetizing our attention and neurobiology.
If you think that’s a dumb paragraph, then leave facebook, twitter, or instagram on your phone and try to stay away for more than four days. Little hits of dopamine are effective pulls back into technology.
Sherry Turkle wrote a brilliant work on this topic called Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. I was sobered, and chilled, by her work. Cal’s book is having the same effect. In fact, this Rabbit Trails series of posts is a way to thoughtfully put his directives into place. I can share with you what I’m enjoying in a controlled fashion without the pull of likes, hearts, double taps or messages to endlessly cycle back to. If you like anything or want to engage – you can email me and we get to move toward a real conversation.
If you haven’t heard or seen me reference Klyne Snodgrass’ work, Who God Says You Are: A Christian Understanding of Identity, then I owe you this: *you should read this book*. I’ve spent the last two years on somewhat of a dive into emotional health, relationships, dealing with shame, and christian identity and Klyne’s book is one I keep coming back to read again (the other is Curt Thompson’s The Soul of Shame).
What I like about Klyne’s book is that he handles the ordinary aspects of our life that we inherited, that we experience, and that we live out—then he shows how the gospel of Christ impacts and renovates all of these parts of life. The final chapter, An Appeal to be a Whole Person, is worth the price of the book.
My friend Lore Ferguson recently read it and said it is a contender for her book of the year, and being that is February, I feel like that is a strong rec. Read it. Thank me later.
Things I’m enjoying:
The Bible Project‘s app Read Scripture has been the missing link in a yearly reading plan that I didn’t know I needed, but am thankful for. Their videos are worked into each book, giving you an overview of major themes and content, then leading you into a few chapters at a time and a psalm. Try it out! It’s free, and awesome.
The Leader’s Journey Podcast has been something I’ve been sure to catch the last six months or so. They have done a helpful series on emotional intelligence, and are in the middle of one on trauma informed leadership. Not sure I need to say much else than you should spend a minute and look at their lineup.
Lastly, my colleagues run a podcast called Knowing Faith, and I think it is wonderful. Hearing three friends (and guests!) talk through topics of faith and help make hard things a bit clearer is a real treat—and help—to the church. I’m thankful Kyle had the vision, and I’m thankful this is something our church supports. I have met people from all over the country who listen to and are benefitting from the meat of this podcast. Give it a listen.
Things I need to remember:
The evening is a time of vulnerability. (Earley)
Opening the household table on a regular basis creates an undercurrent of the Christian life that mimics the adoption ethic. The table is open, not closed. (Earley)
Leave good evidence of yourself. Do good work. (Gary Rogowski via Newport)
Lastly, as I am trying to turn towards lent and Easter, I found myself listening (once again) to Andrew Peterson and shedding tears on the way to work after three little words: His heart beats.
Easter is coming, friends.