newthingsold

The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: May, 2015

My first co-authored blog post in more than a year.

  
I own a cat named Melchizedek.  He is part mancoon and thinks he’s part lion.  He is currently sitting on my lap while I am trying to write, which leads me to assume that his desire is to co-author this blog post.  So any time that you see writing in italics, it’s probably Mel.

Meow.  Stop typing and pet me, Fat Boy.

Last month, I completed the masters program in which I had enrolled and now am a part of the next echelon of academic elite: those with a master’s degree.

But you still haven’t figured out how to drop everything and give me your undivided attention.

Now that the degree program is over, I am left asking myself, “Self, how are things different now that I have an MS in Instructional Design and Technology?”

They aren’t; see previous statement.

I have noticed that the degree has afforded me the chance to expand my professional involvements at school, from academic coaching to dual credit teaching opportunities, aspects that would not have happened if I had not completed the degree.

Boring.  Stop typing and start petting or else!

And I have noticed that I am starting to approach different professional situations in ways I had not considered before.

I’m warning you, Fat Boy.  Last chance.

I guess the degree has been wort…

This post will not be completed because I have knocked Gerrit out and intend on dragging him to the couch so that when he wakes up he can pet me, give me snacks, and give me his undivided attention and affection.

Sincerely,

Mel

Advertisements

Doug Pagitt’s “Flipped”

This is a review of the book Flipped! by Doug Pagitt.

Quick. Answer these questions:

1. Where is God located?
2. What must you do for God to love you?

If your answers sound something like, “God is in Heaven”, and “If I follow all Gods laws, then he will love me”, then Doug Pagitt’s Flipped will be a book that would provide you with a lot of interesting thoughts to mull over.  If, however, your answers sound more like, “God is everywhere and in him we live, move, and exist”, and “God loves us as we are unconditionally with no negotiations that need to be made for him to love us”, then Flipped will provide you with a few nuggets of wisdom, but you probably won’t find the book to be life-altering.

From the onset, Pagitt uses the idea of the “Flip” -a radical change in thinking or perception- as the motif for people to change their notions about their relationship to God.  The premise of Pagitt’s project is that in God is how we find life, and to live life fully is to love unconditionally, embrace our humanness, and live in relation to others.  There’s nothing too shocking about that.

What I appreciated about Flipped were the anecdotes and moments of personal reflection that Pagitt includes in Flipped.  His story of becoming a runner was inspiring and I it helped provide depth to the chapter on changing our thinking.  I also enjoyed his flipping of the story of Abraham and Isaac from Genesis 12; that was a true food-for-thought moment that I enjoyed.

Flipped is an approachable book on a challenging topic like embracing humanity in the unconditional love of God, which enables us to live life fully.  If a potential reader is open to the idea of having some of his or her perceptions flipped, this book may do the trick.

I received my copy of this book for free through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for reviewing it.  I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions contained are my own.

Just a straight-up, good song.

While a J.R.R. Tolkien fan, I have not been impressed with series of The Hobbit movies that came out recently.  They are clearly not exactly what Tolkien had in mind when he wrote the books.  However, I give my tip of the hat to Ed Sheeran.  Enjoy this!

“7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness” by Eric Metaxas

This is a review of the book 7 Men by Eric Metaxas.

There is something about a well-written biography.  In it the author conveys his passion for the subject and it translates into the reader then sharing that passion.  I was first introduced to Eric Metaxas when my wife purchased as a Christmas present for me Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy.  Insightful and engaging, Metaxas captured the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a way that no other writing could have done except for reading something written by Bonhoeffer himself.  While there is much that I would have wanted to discourse with Metaxas over in Miraclesit equally reflects his colossal expository talents.  While 7 Men is a good read, on the whole it falls short of the quality of some of his other works.

In 7 Men, Metaxas sets out to share a mini-biography of seven great men: George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Chuck Colson.  In his introduction, Metaxas sets out a very compelling case for the need of real manhood, explains why he wrote this book (because each man is an example of someone who gave up something significant to become something greater than themselves), and then gives a short synopsis of what that thing is for each man.  When I finished the introduction, I was fired up to read the book and get every little insight I could out out if.

The first chapter on George Washington is a solid lead for the book.  In it, Metaxas weaves a narrative full of emotion, insight, analysis, and passion.  He does not shy away from the fact that Washington was a man of career ambition or that there were foibles in his military career.  But he is equally lauding of the seemingly incomprehensible actions to turn away from ambition that Washington made at key points in his life which make him a logical choice to be included in this list of seven.  And while a couple of the chapters do not quite reach that same level of unbiased emotional connection -Liddell and Bonhoeffer- Metaxas still does a great job of presenting an emotional exegesis of manhood.  It is not until towards the end of the chapter on Robinson where I suddenly had to go back to the introduction to remind myself of why Metaxas had included him in the list.  Where as he made it a point to emphasis what Washington, Wilberforce, Liddell, and Bonhoeffer had sacrificed, it seemed like that dynamic suddenly disappears by the middle of the book.

The only chapter I did not care for was the last chapter on Chuck Colson.  It felt too much like a biased propaganda piece.  Throughout the introduction and even as the lead in to the Colson chapter, Metaxas makes it obvious that Colson was a personal friend of his.  Whereas the previous six chapters had focused on men who had done extraordinary things that seemed beyond them, Metaxas does not make as strong a case for Colson.  A much more fitting end chapter would have been to focus on an individual such as Billy Graham and avoid what some might see as thinly veiled hero worship.  As I read the last two pages of the last mini-biography, I was left wondering, “Was Colson’s life accomplishments on the same level as Washington or even Pope John Paul II?”  Reflecting on the contents of the chapter, I would answer no.  This book would have been better served to focus on six men, or swap Colson out for a seventh.

Read 7 Men for some interesting information on some great men from history, and be prepared to go find more books on the subjects to get a better picture of who these men were.  The writing project was okay, but I probably would not pick up this book again to read it in its entirety.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for publishing a review on the book.  I was not obligated to write a favorable review; the opinions expressed are mine.

I’m not dead after today.

I am a proponent of exercise and sweating.  One must have the other or the exercise was not worth it.  In case you were wondering, YES, I do sweat during yoga.  In any case, I created an intense weight workout workout which kept my heart rate at an average of 140 bpm for an entire 60 minutes.  Here are the details.

Superset 1:  Bench Press and Bent-Over Row – 4 sets of 8 reps for each exercise

Superset 2:  Deadlift and Power Clean – 4 sets of 8 reps for each exercise

Superset 3:  Squats, Calf Raises, and Straight-Leg Deadlift – 4 sets of 8 reps for each exercise

Superset 4:  Bicep Curls, Overhead Press, and Tricep Extensions – 4 sets of 8 reps for each exercise

Superset 5:  Dynamic Barbell Toss*, Reverse Lunges, and Planks – 4 sets of 8 for the first two, followed by 30 second plank.

Superset FINISHER:  Squat, Bench Press, Bent-Over Row, Bicep Curls – 25 reps of each exercise on an empty Olympic Bar with no rest between them.

*How to do a Dynamic Barbell Toss:  Lie under a Smith machine loaded with 35 lb plates on each side of the bar.  Perform a rep as if you are doing a bench press, but when you press the bar up, explode at the top so that you are literally tossing the bar above the palms of your hands by about four inches.  Catch the bar, lower it back down to your chest and repeat.

DISCLAIMERS:  I am not a certified personal trainer; do this routine of exercises at YOUR OWN RISK.  I am not responsible if you get injured.  It is critical that you perform these exercises using proper technique; if you do not know the proper lifting techniques for these exercises, please ask a professional.  I am not affiliated with any of the sites to which I hyperlinked for explanations of the exercises; they were convenient and good for demonstration.