2 Quotes from My Reading Recently

Two quotes from the books I have been reading recently have really been connecting with me. The first is from Hans Rosling’s “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things are Better Than You Think.” Rosling wrote:

Being intelligent — being good with numbers, or being well educated, or even winning a Nobel Prize— is not a shortcut to global factual knowledge. Experts are experts only within their field.

I see this quite often. Someone is an expert at one thing and then tends to think he/she is knowledgeable about most every subject. Just because you are very talented in one thing doesn’t necessarily mean that you are talented in other things. You may be a great welder, business owner, pharmacist, guitar player, or pastor but that knowledge and skill doesn’t necessarily transfer to other fields. The problem is that experts often aren’t very used to or good at admitting what they don’t know. It takes a great deal of humility to do so.

In my field of pastoring/chaplaining I hear some people speak with force on subjects that they are completely ignorant concerning. For example, I have heard pastors who have undergraduate Bible school degrees and Masters in Divinity and haven’t had a job outside of the church since whatever their high school job was speak with force concerning business matters and expect others to believe what they say just because they are pastors. I’m not saying they are wrong when they speak, rather it is belief that others should listen to you because you are a pastor that I am writing against. Just because you have knowledge in one field doesn’t mean that you have any in another. Another example is I have heard people who were hugely successful in one field interpret scripture in some amazingly weird manners and expect people to listen to them. I remember talking with a Medical Doctor and him proudly tell me about the “very interesting” insight he had taught the previous week in Sunday School. When I heard it I kept thinking to myself “how was this guy able to make it into medical school?” Obviously though this guy had been smart enough to make it into and pass medical school, that just didn’t make him an expert in biblical interpretation. Being an expert in one field doesn’t make you an expert, or even marginally proficient, in all fields.

The second quote is from Michael Pollan “A Place of My Own.” I read this book because Adam recommend that I do so and I love the fact that I can trust my kids recommendations. They both have wonderful taste in books, music, and movies. This is a long quote but I really like it. Pollan wrote:

As it was, the architects fretted over what the owners would do to their works of art which, most of them agreed, would never again be as perfect as the day before move-in day. … Modernists often designed their interiors not so much for particular individuals as for Man; they regarded the addition of clients’ stuff as a subtraction from a creation they thought of as wholly their own.  This is one legacy of modernism that we have yet to overcome: our stuff and, in turn, our selves still very often have trouble gaining a comfortable foothold in a modern interior. …

Certainly when I think about spaces that I remember as having a strong sense of place, it isn’t the ‘architecture’ that I picture—the geometrical arrangements of wood and stone and glass—but such things as watching the world go by from the front porch of the general shop in town, or the scuffle of 10,000 shoes making their way to work beneath Grand Central Station’s soaring vault. The ‘design’ of these places and the recurring events that give them their qualities—the spaces and the times—have grown together in such a way that it is impossible to bring one to mind without the other.

Conor took this photo yesterday while we were signing and was nice enough to share it with me.

We had “threads” over to the house yesterday for our annual “don’t meet at Washington Sunday”. Our little church becomes even smaller during the holidays, so instead of everyone traveling being a detriment we turn it into a positive. We meet in a different home or two and potluck together to increase our fellowship. Yesterday we were supposed to be at a different home but they were dealing with the flu and therefore our home became the backup home. Two of the threads starting asking me what the stories were behind various things in our house. For example, why do we have a photo of a quizzical looking goat prominently on our living room wall. Pam has done an amazing job of making our home look nice and inviting, but even more important she has done an amazing job of making sure that our home tells you who we are. I believe that if you broke into our home (I don’t recommend this because we have a vicious basset hound who will maul you) you would quickly get an idea of who we are, who the important people are in our lives, and what values are important to us. Our home will never be in an architectural magazine or rate as great interior design among Instagram influencers, but it does achieve what I believe is the most important function of a home after keeping your safe and sound from the weather – it conveys who we are.

Winston Churchill once said:

We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us.

I believe that this shaping of us is also true regarding whether the design of our homes speak of who we are or not. If i walk into your home and it is beautifully designed but it tells me nothing of who you are, well that probably tells me a great deal about who you are. If our homes don’t speak of who we are, then they have probably shaped us into people about which there is nothing of value to speak.

are you talking to me?
The goat on our living room wall.

Anyhow, I hope 2018 was a wonderful year for you and 2019 will be just as great. May God’s grace and peace rest upon us all in 2019.

Clive Loves His Rides

I mentioned today during our church gathering about how much Clive loves car rides. I thought I would share a very short video to give you an idea of how much Clive loves car rides. This is just me asking Clive if he would like to go for a ride. I bet you didn’t know that basset hounds could get air when they wanted to. 😁

I didn’t video Clive riding today because Winter rides mean riding in Fred the Minivan and there isn’t anything really interesting about those rides. Here’s a video from when I was testing to see what the a GoPro video in Buddy the Mustang would look like. This dog loves cars rides.

A Couple of Reasons I Love “Threads”

If you ever read my blog very much you should know that thanks to the wonderful naming talents of Natalie G the people who make up Tapestry are affectionately known as “threads” (also I would like to add that if you read my blog very often you should probably find better reading material-😜). I am often reminded of how much I love my “thread” friends and tonight was another reminder for two reasons.

Just “threads” doing what “threads” do,

First, I have a tendency to volunteer for us to serve at bad times. For example, serving the Place of Peace meal for 70ish people the Thursday after Christmas when everyone is gone. I was told that not many people who be able to help because of the holidays. In fact, I only had one “thread” family sign up to help. No big deal the church budget would just cover the meal. So I bought I lot of stuff and hoped that a few people would show up to help serve. Well we had a great turn out and a ton of food. Pam actually heard one of the “PoP”s (what I am now calling regulars at the Place of Peace meal) say “we’ve never had this many desserts before”. I’m not really surprised that the “threads” pull through, you guys always do.

Second, the Strongs have a few agatized wood bowls. The first time I saw one I asked about it and told them how Pam and I were given one when we were newlyweds. For the longest time it was my popcorn bowl and I loved it. You may say “you can’t love a bowl” but you would be wrong. I had a deep and meaningful relationship with this bowl. You see popcorn is very important to me and therefore my popcorn bowl is very important also. I presently have a wonderful enamelware popcorn bowl that Pam gave me one year for my birthday or Christmas. It is great a great bowl and I love it, but your first popcorn bowl is always special. My first great popcorn bowl was an agatized wood bowl and when it broke I wanted another. Though I didn’t know that it was called agatized wood. Which is why when it broke I had no idea how to find another. I searched for bowls made out of sawdust and glue, which is what I thought agatized wood was, but I never found anything. Then I saw the Strong’s bowl. I asked them how they got it and discovered that her dad and mom buy them whenever they see them. Low and behold they brought me one tonight. It is wonderful. Thank you Strongs. Y’all are wonderful.

I love my friends.

I have a lot of good friends all over the world, but right now I am specifically writing about three here in Wisconsin. Natalie & Eric Glaze and Andy Lickel. At Tapestry this morning Eric and Natalie walked in an gave me a nicely wrapped gift and said I could go ahead and open it up. I wasn’t expecting a gift from them but whatever it was I knew that I would be thankful. When I opened it I discovered the “antler” mount in the photo above. I laughed to the point that I actually cried.

Those are the nubs from the 1 1/2 year old buck I shot this year. I shot it thinking I was shooting a decent size doe. Instead I shot a buck that should have had a rack but genetically had nubs. It is actually the first buck I have ever shot – I’ve only been deer hunting a few years and I typically shoot does and fawns, because as I have written many times before I am quite possibly the world’s worst deer hunter.. Thanks to Natalie, Eric, and Andy (who I was told had input into this “gift”) this “rack” is now hanging in my study.

Now I need to determine how to best pay my friends back for this gift.

A Face In The Crowd

One of the things that I enjoy is consuming media that is mentioned in various nonfiction books that I read. I have read and watched quite a few books and movies that were referenced to make a point in a work of non-fiction. I read “Sophie’s Choice” (a book that is on my “I’m Really Glad I Read This But It Was So Disturbing That I Will Never Read It Again” list – there aren’t many books on this list but it does exist) because of it being referenced in Daniel Migliore’s book “The Power of God and the Gods of Power“.

Recently I finished “White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America“, a book that I would encourage you to read. It referenced Andy Griffith‘s first movie “A Face in the Crowd“. I had never heard of the movie and it sounded so very different from the wholesome image that Griffith was known for, so I wanted to watch it. Tonight Pam and watch it and it was remarkable. It was so different from what I was expecting from a film made in 1957. It was also amazing how current its themes seemed. 

“White Trash” also mentioned the early 70s documentary series “An American Family“. I’ll be tracking this down through our library and watching it soon.

So let me recap:

  • Watch “A Face in the Crowd”
  • Read “White Trash”
  • and while you are at it I would recommend reading Migliore’s “The Power of God and the Gods of Power”

My work here is done.

Prepare the Way

This week Pam wanted me to read this article concerning the biblical phrase “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” I have never spoken concerning the passage in Matthew or from the passage from Isaiah from which Matthew is quoting and she wondered what I thought of Diane Butler Bass’s thoughts. I really liked them. I would encourage you to read her article. I think it is quite good.

To quote Dr Butler Bass.

By the time of Luke, however, anyone reading the passage would have been thinking of Roman roads. 

And how roads were essentially the pathway of Caesar’s “glory” — the wealth of empire, the army traveling, the rich and nobles and governors moving to newly colonized places.

Roads so good they’ve lasted 1,000s of years.

I tend to think of Roman roads as the Ancient Near Eastern equivalent of aircraft carriers during the Cold War or probably drones during our own time. When I graduated from the University of South Alabama with my undergraduate business degree I began working at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. While I was there we worked on LHD class naval ships. The LHD is basically a small aircraft carrier. While we worked on those (ok others worked on them I was a workman’s compensation adjuster) one of the naval officers there described aircraft carriers as extensions of American power. When an American aircraft carrier was in a region that region was suddenly controlled by America because the force that an aircraft carrier was able to exert was that impressive. Ancient Near Eastern roads did the same thing. 

As Dr. Butler Bass pointed out when God calls for “the way to be prepared” it is a statement of the extension of God’s rule into the world. I would add that this is both individual and corporate. Dr. Butler Bass described how her past was limited to a “spiritualized” internal understanding version of preparing the way and she now understands the call of preparation of “rebellion” “of political liberation”.  I tend to think it is a both/and situation – that God calls us to prepare the way both within ourselves and within our world. 

I think this is one of the things that I like about Advent Conspiracy, it is corporate and individual at the same time. I believe it encourages us to celebrate our Lord’s incarnation in such a manner that it leads to us preparing the way both in our hearts and our world.

Prepare the way of the Lord, you children of God!