book lists

JT recently linked to a John Mark Reynolds list of books that every college student should read. I thought the list was great, and seeing as how I went to UNLV, I wasn’t required to read a single one. Well actually, I did read most of the Bible in my Bible as lit class. I wanted to write a short list of books a 20-something person trying to be missional should read, but before that I wanted to note how many of those books that John Mark listed I have actually read, plan on reading, or would rather play flag football on the I-15 than read.

First, every college student should read the English Bible from cover to cover.
YES. By the way, you know you’re dealing with a scholar when he prefaces “Bible” with “English”

In order to save time and sapce, I’ll put in bold what I’ve read, and make comments as necesssary.

Iliad, Odyssey, History of the Peloponnesian War, Ethics (Aristotle), Metaphysics (Aristotle), Meno, Republic, Timaeus, Oedipus Rex, Bacchae, Orestia, On Friendship and On Duties (Cicero), Aeneid, Meditations, History of the Church (Eusebius), Confessions, City of God (I know, I’m trying to plant a church and I haven’t read these. I must really trust Jesus.) Histories (Tacitus), Consolation of Philosophy, Summa Theologica (selections!), Divine Comedy, Canterbury Tales, The Prince, The Institutes (selections from Calvin), Fairy Queen, Shakespeare (Hamlet, Lear, As You Like It, Henry V, Julius Caesar), Fairy Queen (at least Book I), Leviathan, Second Treatise on Government, Pensees.

Some notes. All these? Really? No significant scholarly books have been written since Pascal?

Ten Works of You Should Read to be Civilized I would say chickified, not civilized here:

1-3. Some poetry by Donne, Blake, Wordsworth, and Dickenson (counts as 3!)
Does it make me uncivilized if I don’t know who some of these poets are based on last name alone. By the way, since when does reading poetry make one civilized? I freaking hate poetry, and I make no apologies
4. Pride and Prejudice
Normally, watching the movie doesn’t count. But when its a freaking eight hour miniseries we can make an exception. And yes I just admitted to watching the eight hour miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. I’ll turn in my man card at the end of the day
5. Tale of Two Cities
I can’t stand Dicken’s. What a long winded blowhard. And yes I watched a lot of TV growing up
6. Jane Eyre
7. Moby Dick
8. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
9. Brothers Karamazov
Maybe, one day I will read this. I kind of feel guilty that I’ve never read any Dostoyevsky. This actually makes me feel uncivilized
10. Anna Karenina

Modern Top 10 (US student):

1. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution

2. Federalist Papers
3. Reflections on the Revolution in France
4. Wealth of Nations
5. Communist Manifesto
6. Origin of Species
7. On the Genealogy of Morals
8. Civilization and Its Discontents
9. No Exit
10. Lincoln’s speeches (especially Gettysburg, which should be memorized, and the Second Inaugural) Alright, that statement was effing crazy

This list actually convicted me more than any. I really should bust a few of these out. Damn you UNLV, I shouldn’t have to supplement my degree later. I say that like I would have read them if they made me. One other gripe about the list. NO MODERN AMERICAN LITTERATURE. No Bradbury, Orwell, Steele, or Blume. Remember, if we are to be civilized, it must be within our civilization.

Alright, for the twenty something missional list

English Bible, not necessarily from cover to cover, without verse or chapter numbers
cover to cover could be counterproductive, also reading without verse or chapter numbers helps avoid systematic pitfalls, as well as helping to see the text in a meta-narrative way
The Shaping of Things to Come, or Exiles, or The Forgotten Ways
for all the emerging garbage out there, these guys shine for their commitment to Christ-centered missional thinking. I don’t agree with everything, but man do they have a high respect for the person and work of Jesus determining our mission
A Generous Orthodoxy
know what you’re up against
Desiring God, or Knowing God, or The Pleasures of God
good, God-glorifying theology never hurt
Sex, Drugs, and Coco-Puffs
Nothing will challenge you, and help you understand the minds of our generation better than Chuck Klosterman. If you haven’t read Klosterman, your are misisonally deficient.

Ryan, if you have a short list, or want to comment in a post, please feel free. Anyone, if you want to give your five in the comment box please feel free.

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web wednesday

So, I’m thinking of writing a post each Wednesday highlighting a fun web app., informational blog, or great deal site. Today will be my first.

Google Reader has revolutionized my web use. I tried using it a few months ago with little success. I put the blogs I liked on there, but was overwhelmed with how they showed up, the lack of gadgets, and inability to comment. I have now discovered the problem was not with my reader, but with my understanding of how to use it. The best way to think about a “reader’s” purpose is to think of it as an organizational tool. It is to the web what TIVO is to t.v.

Imagine all the blogs and news resources you frequently “surf” to, now nicely organized within a filing system with an interface similar to your POP3 e-mail client. This is what a reader does. I have all the blogs I read, now listed by categories on the left hand side of my reader. Also filed is CNN news updates, ESPN news headlines, and a search feed for Bill Simmons (a search feed is necessary for non RSS enabled pages, this search feed will catch the new article when it comes out. Some sites have already adapted this, such as a site that does it for the Review Journal and Las Vegas Sun). Now instead of surfing around to see who has a new blog up, I simply check my reader, and there they are. To put it simply, instead of checking 15-20 different sites daily, you only check one.

If you want to get really advanced, and super organized, customize your google homepage to have your reader, your gmail account (if you don’t have one, I’ll invite you), and various other fun gadgets such as calendars or jokes of the day. This allows you to further organize your web use. As techies have been saying all over the blogosphere; google could be making the desktop very insignificant.

What is the benefit to this? Well, the organizational aspect has briefly been touched upon. Not to mention accessibility benefits. But for me the best aspect of the “reader” is that it limits my web use. Instead of spending too much time surfing the web, I get my desired content and avoid frivolous surfing. Like with my TIVO, if I limit myself to only watching shows I TIVO, I am effectively organizing the TV around my life instead of vise-versa like most people. Well, I have noticed that I have the same propensity to do that with the web. A read enables me to use the Web as a tool to serve my life, instead of being a tool who surfs the web instead of doing what he should.

In order for this to work you need to be exhaustive. Take a few hours and create a list of every site that you spend a good amount of time on, and find a way to get it on your reader. It took a while for to find a feed to get my Vegas newspaper fix, but it was there. Then, spend as much time as necessary filing all your feeds under as many categories as possible. Once again, the more exhaustive you are upfront, the easier it will make your web time later. Also, you will be overwhelmed at all the “new items” in your inbox. Since you frequent these sites often, just mark all as read. Chances are that if you do not do this, like myself, the reader will overwhelm you and prevent good use.

4$ a gallon gas?

I read an editorial the other day about the government raising the price of gas to 4 dollars a gallon.  I would link to it but I can not find it again.  The article was pure brilliance and put into words many thoughts I have had over recent years.

Right after Katrina and then again during late last summer gas prices were at all time highs.  So much so that the price of gas was actually beginning to have an impact on the way people lived their lives.  I remember hearing people around me say, “I would really like to go to the mall, downtown, for a drive, but I have to think about gas.”  And things such as mass transportation became an option for many.  I was stunned by this because it was one of the first time I remember things that only appeared on the TV screen (mid-east turmoil, Katrina) was having a profound impact on all of us in our daily lives.  Gas even became so pricey that Crystal and I thought twice about the road trip we took last summer up to Seattle and down the coast.  Gas prices even for a Honda Civic in San Fran and on the west coast averaged about 3.48$ a gallon.

Around this time also car makers completely retooled their advertising campaigns  to tout the fuel efficiency of the cars.  I remember that SUV’s were glutted on the car lots, and Trucks were about as popular as terrorists (except in the south, were it does not matter if gas reaches 23$ a gallon they are going to drive trucks).  Part of me was truly excited about all of this.  I was a bit ahead of the curve as both of our cars are decent with the gas consumption.  I saw new potential for the enviorment, mid-east relations, and transportation habits.  People began to list MPG as top three in the car purchase considerations.  I thought for a moment that we might have reach the fuel price threshold for much of America, and we could finally be turning a corner.  I know it would have been painful, but as Driscoll recently said, pain and progress are usually intertwined. We would have had to break bad habits, change our consumption mentalities, and not drive around in vehicles that could also double as military tools.  But in the long run we would have all been better off.

But things have calmed down since then.  Gas dropped in price.  We had mild winters across the nation.  and gas was back down around 2$ a gallon.  MPG was thrown out the window and horsepower and mini tanks were back in fashion.

So that brings me to the point of the article I read; lets raise the price of gas to 4$ a gallon.  Think about it before you dismiss it as being a horrible idea.  Sure it would hurt in the short term, but it would put the responsibility for taking care of this problem off of just car makers and telling them they must find alternative clean fuels, without affecting the standards and consumption habits Americans have grown accustom to.  If gas is around 2.50$ a gallon and we add another 1.50$ on it we could use this tax to pay off national debt, invest in research for alternative fuels, or environmental restoration programs.  The biggest impact though would come in people changing.  Changing the way they drive and waste so much of a finite resource, that comes at a greater cost politically, and environmentally than most of us ever  realize. Mass transportation might also receive some serious funding and not just be paid empty lip service.  Oil is a serious issue, and serious problem that should not just be placed on the backs of car makers, but should be something all of us role up our sleeves and help contribute to the solution.  If anyone thinks this idea is crazy just has to look at Europe and see that it is actually much more effective, and realistic than we could ever imagine, those guys pay over 5$ a gallon for gas.  So this might suck but I think the alternative sucks even more.

“Preaching ain’t easy”

I better keep my praise hand strong because preaching ain’t easy.  I taught tonight and have very mixed feelings about it.  I feel like it went okay but I want better than okay, I want great.  For some reason I felt like much of the night I was hanging on by a shoe string, and that I just needed to keep truckin along or the whole darn thing was just going to fall apart.  Maybe like if you are driving a car held together by duck tap out in the rocky flats.

Yet when I sat down and ready myself for the critiques to come, they were not there.  At least not in the droves or to the degree to which I thought they would.  Little things like, keeping my hand in my pocket to long and not letting some of my points sit and sting, but for the most part things were favorable.  I am just sitting here processing about the disconnect between what I felt and precieved to have happened and what I was told really happened.  So what is it that runs through our minds when we speak?  What is it that makes us think our words are not getting through?  Well for me it is just rust, and inexperience.  I read some Keller stuff today and was struck by his pleading with young guys to just keep on preaching, keep on truckin, and keep on working.  So I do, and I will.  I am preaching this sunday at church for our sunrise service.  I am nervous about it, but I will keep preaching, teaching, and growing.

I’m Giving Up Coffee

Alright, I am not completely giving up coffee as we know it. But I am switching to a primary caffeine intake beverage instead of coffee.

Rockstar Juiced

It has only 160mg of caffeine it a 16oz can, as compared to 370mg in a 16 drip coffee from Starbucks. It is made with fruit juices instead of high fructose corn syrup like other energy drink. And it gives you energy with a blend of vitamins and amino acids. As far as price is concerned, I get them for 1.50 each at Wal-Mart.

We’ll see how long this phase lasts for.