This and That (001)→

So here is today’s version of this and that. It is basically what is bouncing around inside my head. These are the products of books, podcasts, articles, and random thoughts as I go through life. Sometimes connected, but often not.

The Canvas Strategy – Tim Ferriss Podcast, guest Ryan Holiday

As I’m in the midst of a transition myself this was a great reminder about setting the stage for others to succeed. This mindset of service that is not degrading, but advancing both yourself and others really resonates with me as something I’ve tried to do, but never really heard articulated quite like this.

Find canvases on which others can paint

King of Kings – Hardcore History with Dan Carlin

If you are interested in the narratives that make up human history then you should listen to these podcasts.

This one is especially relevant for me as we’ve just moved back from the Near East and the “ghost cities” he talks about were just down the road from what was home a few days ago. These cities that were once marvels of the ancient world, now are just piles of dust, the poppies emerging from the sand to mark where they once stood.

The peoples he talks about (Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, Medes) are still there and some are still in the fight for survival. As Dan says, they are essentially still yelling “we’re still here!” even after having experienced genocide (relevant in the 5th-6th c. BC and in the 21st c. AD!)

Religious Pluralism, Globalization, and World Politics – Thomas Banchoff, editor 

I started this book again while we were traveling and really benefited from the first chapter by Thomas Banchoff that sets the stage for the remainder of the book.

Among other themes he points out, one that was especially relevant was the rise of the international human rights scheme. The ability for people to say “we are being slaughtered, but we’re still here!” before the entire world. It is amazing to think about the way the world has changed, the fundamental rights that we grant to an individual, these were almost unheard of in previous centuries.


Trailer: The Last Plea Bargain

One of the fun things I’ve been able to do as part of this blog is to review a number of interesting books. Soon I will be posting a full review of The Last Plea Bargain as part of a blog tour for Tyndale House. Next week I’ll be posting some excerpts of a Q&A with the author Randy Singer. Also, I will share some links to other bloggers’ reviews of this book.

Until then, here is the trailer for The Last Plea Bargain:

Interested? You can pick up the book at Amazon here: The Last Plea Bargain

Wednesday 2.22.12

How to Boost Your Reading Comprehension – Do you find you have more to read than you can ever possibly finish? Do you actually take time to chew on what you read? There is a certain amount of value of being able to read and understand lots but it is easy to get lost in the flood and never profit from all you read. This article has some good tips for managing your reading work flow.

Five Thoughts on Vocation – A few brief thoughts on what the theology of vocation is and why it is so important that we see not just the “spiritual” acts of our life but all of life as before the face of God.

Finally, the theology of vocation is fundamentally about who we are created to be – both as human beings in general, and as specific creatures.

Review: Islam Without Extremes – a good overview of a book I’m really excited about Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty that summarizes some of its main arguments and shows why the book is valuable.

I honestly think it is one of the most important books of 2011; if you have any serious interest in Islam and its future, do make sure you read this.

Secularism: Its Content and Context – this is a pretty heavy article but makes some really interesting and strong points about what secularism should be and how it should be argued for. He, in a very interesting way, argues against relativism in a way that I really resonated with. While there are some areas of disagreement with the author I really liked the piece overall. (I’d recommend reading the full article, though a heavy 35 pages) because this excerpt just gets started on the good stuff!)

Monday 2.13.12

Lin-Sanity – A long-shot player (who was actually pretty good in college!) gets an opportunity, makes the most of it and becomes an overnight social media phenomenon being credited with leading his team to wins. No, not another Tim Tebow story. This is Jeremy Lin who is playing for the New York Knicks. The Harvard graduate is the first Chinese American NBA player. Another great part of the story is the character and faith that he possesses. Here is an interview he did while still in college.

Turkey’s Test – This post raises some serious questions about Turkey and its role in relation to the violence that is being carried out in Syria. While certainly it would be foolish for anyone to try to paint this as a simple scenario it is one where action needs to be taken. The most compelling statement from this post was this:

Power stems not just from size, strategic location, a strong economy, able diplomacy, and military capacity. It also requires the will to act – the understanding that true leadership means the courage to take and implement even decisions that are deeply unpopular in some quarters.

Changing Education Paradigms – This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award.
For more information on Sir Ken’s work visit:

Monday Mentions→

Here are some of the stories of interest over the last few days and heading into this next week.

Cruise Liner Capsizes –

A Carnival Cruise ship, the Costa Concordia wrecked over the weekend off the Western coast of Italy. The boat struck rocks that caused a massive hole in the side of the ship. Most of the 4,200 passengers on board were able to safely make it to shore. Unfortunately 6 have been confirmed dead. The wreck which occurred during calm seas and clear visibility is suspected to be due to human error. The captain is currently under extreme scrutiny and may face manslaughter charges in the case.

Huntsman drops out – The quest for the Republican presidential nominee is in full swing. Now that primary season has started we have results besides just opinion polls. After strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney seems to have delivered on the expectations that had him as the front runner throughout most of the past few months. The upcoming primary in South Carolina will be a significant indicator if there is a “anybody but Mitt” candidate to be found or if the party has begun to unite around Romney in hopes that he can defeat Obama this fall.

How to Focus – Ever have trouble focusing? You know, you need to write that paper and you do everything but. Or you just can’t wait to get into the novel, but you have to check the headlines and the sports scores and twitter. No? Okay, well this was great for me. Just a graphic with some practical ideas for how to focus.

BIG news in Chinese Politics – How big? Well, about 7’6 big. Former NBA player Yao Ming who retired after chronic injuries has begun to pursue involvement in Chinese Politics, among other things. At 31 he is now the youngest, and certainly the tallest, of the 142 members of an advisory committee to Shanghai’s legislature. Yao who is extremely popular in his homeland has also begun importing his own wine, from Napa, CA, and also enrolled in a University in his hometown of Shanghai.