What I Read This Week

Early in the week I finished Barack Obama’s presidential memoir, A Promised Land. Obama really is a good writer.

Then I read Rob Bell’s newest book, Everything is Spiritual, which I liked a lot. Bell writes:

I’ve had a sense since I was young
that there’s more going on here, that
the world is not a cold, dead place,
that it’s alive in some compelling and
mysterious way.

This book is about that sense. I’ve tried
to listen to it, and follow it, and trust it.
It’s been devastating at times, intoxicating
at others, heartbreaking and maddening
and euphoric――how do you make sense
of this experience we’re having here on
this ball of rock hurtling through space
at 67,000 miles an hour?

There are big questions: Everything
is made of particles and atoms, and the
universe has been expanding for thirteen
billion years?

And then there are those other questions, about the people and places and
events that have shaped us.

HOWEVER MASSIVE AND
COSMIC IT ALL IS, IT’S ALSO
REALLY, REALLY PERSONAL.
AND SPIRITUAL.
THAT’S THE WORD FOR IT.

I finished Rob Bell’s book in a couple of days and am now reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. This is book is excellent. Highly recommended. The main idea of the book is described on the jacket cover:

Digital minimalists are all around us. They’re the calm, happy people who can hold long conversations without furtive glances at their phones. They can get lost in a good book, a woodworking project, or a leisurely morning run. They can have fun with friends and family without the obsessive urge to document the experience. They stay informed about the news of the day, but don’t feel overwhelmed by it. They don’t experience “fear of missing out” because they already know which activities provide them meaning and satisfaction.

Newport has some great chapters on the value of practices like solitude and walking and offers lots of practical suggestions on how to become a digital minimalist. This book came at just the right time for me.

Newport references a 7,000 word essay by Andrew Sullivan on this topic: “I Used to Be a Human Being: An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me. It might break you, too.”

I found this New York Times article deeply thought provoking: “Inside a Battle Over Race, Class, and Power at Smith College.”

And this: Stolen-Election Myth Fuels G.O.P. Push to Change Voting Laws – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

And then there’s this on the difficulties and frustrations of the hybrid teaching teachers are being asked to do these days: “Is Hybrid Learning Killing Teaching?

Here’s this about the fights over charter schools: Opinion | Can We Stop Fighting About Charter Schools? – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

This is a great story: Without a home gym, Fort Worth YMLA is at home in playoffs | Fort Worth Star-Telegram (star-telegram.com)

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