Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 Reading List

I ended up reading 17 books in 2017, up from 9 last year, but way less than my record of 38. Would have read way more if not for listening to so many Richard Rohr retreats and lectures. Also, my podcast load is too heavy, but there are so many good ones.  So let me just give you the titles and authors and a brief description and you can decide whether or not you want to read.  And I listened to most of the audiobooks in the Harry Potter series again this year on family trips, but I already listened to those before, so I didn't really count them again.

I find my best method of intake is audiobooks which can get expensive, but gets cheaper when you use a subscription service with Audible.  You can certainly save bucks over the list price.  Whenever you have the chance, buy credits.  You should never have to pay more than $15 for a book or lecture series.  I also read some Kindle books as I can read those laying in bed before going to sleep.  And also in December, I began celebrating a Sabbath every week, for which I bought my first paper book in several years.

These are generally in the order of which I finished them, but may not be exactly.  I often read books overlapping, like right now, I'm on one audiobook, one paper book, and one Kindle book, all at the same time, and they may finish one before another or overlapping and whatever.  I realize not everybody can read three books at once! But I do it because I read books in three different ways, audiobooks for while I'm driving or doing manual work, electronic for in the dark, and paper for Sabbath when we shut off electronics.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Marie Kondo     Audiobook
I don't know why I bought this book.  It was pretty good, written from a Japanese perspective, helped me to grasp the idea that stuff and junk shouldn't be in my life if it isn't giving me joy or usefulness.

How I slept My Way to the Middle Kevin Pollack, Alan Goldsher     Audiobook by the author
I've always liked Kevin's standup, and excellent impressions.  This book was really enjoyable for its backstories of film projects Kevin has been in, and gave me some films to add to my Netflix list.  The best part of this book is the impressions by Kevin.

True Porn Clerk Stories Ali Davis     Audiobook
You might assume this book is more salacious than it is, and it has its moments, but it is a nice little memoir with some really good stories about being a video store clerk. And it is a video store, not specifically a porn store.  I listened to this on the drive back from Arizona in the late winter.  That's the best time to be in the desert, I think, I've done it twice.  Lovely weather compared to Oregon that time of year.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck Mark Manson
Listened to this on the plane rides back from somewhere on my beekeeping speaking adventures.  A good motivational book.  Basically the idea is similar to "say no to unimportant stuff so you can say yes to important stuff."

Revolution for Dummies Bassem Youssef    Audiobook by the author
Bassem has always been an interesting character for me since I first saw him on the Daily Show. This book chronicles the world he came from in Egypt.  Always get audiobooks read by the author, they are so much better, except for Harry Potter, I'm sure Jo Rowling couldn't do as good with the voices as the guy who does them.

What is the Bible? Rob Bell    Audiobook by the author
As a long time fan of Rob, there was no way I was not reading this.  True to his style, this book explores the Bible, though I would have liked it to be much longer, it is quite good.

The Divine Dance Richard Rohr  Audiobook
This is Richard's recent book on the Trinity.  I listened to this driving back from picking up a trailer in Oklahoma when I started my current business this summer.  Small problem, I was super depressed and having a cruddy time.  Basically my thought through the entire thing was "this sounds so awesome, but is any of it true?"  So I'm going to have to go back and listen to it again because I was in no frame of mind.

The Disaster Artist Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell   Audiobook by the author
If you have seen The Room, you have to read this book.  It's the story of Greg and how he met Tommy Wiseau.  What really livens it up is his dead on impression of Tommy which is used extensively.  Tip: Set Audible speed to 1.25x because Greg reads REALLY slowly.  I often run the speed up a bit simply because I have a higher processing speed.  Not always with Richard Rohr's books though because they are meaty and require more processing power.

Writing My Wrongs Shaka Sengor     Audiobook by the author
A really good book that gives you a look at what it looks like to grow up in a drug and gang rich environment, from a man who spent nearly two decades in prison.  Narrated by the author, the richness of the local accent is brought out.  Mr. Sengor is not a professional narrator, so he lacks in dynamic and emotional range, but still good.

The Sin of Certainty Peter Enns     Audiobook
This book literally resurrected me from the crushing depths of depression and anxiety.  Seriously, in the morning I could hardly get out of bed and by evening, I was fully normal.  It was amazing. The overall message is that God wants trust rather than correct belief.  Must read for those in deconstruction, reconstruction, post-evangelical, etc.

Falling Upward Richard Rohr    Audiobook by the author
Recommended to me by a good friend, this book is about Richard's two halves of life.  It will help you learn a lot about yourself, where you are, and where you are going, and help push you along the path.  Excellent book.  Top 5 Rohr books.

Sober Stick Figure Amber Tozer    Read by the Author
I don't remember why I got this one.  I think it was because she is a comedy writer, or maybe it was on sale, or I don't know.  But it really helped me to scrub my ignorance about alcoholism by telling the whole story from beginning to present.  It helped me to understand a friend who is a former alcoholic, and other authors like Nadia Bolz-Weber who is also a former alcholic.  Listened to this on a drive to Seattle and back.

Yes, My Accent is Real Kunal Nayyar  Read by the Author
Also on the Seattle trip, I listened to this book which is entertaining and enjoyable.  Not on the top of the list of profound and spiritual books, but enjoyable.

Lies We Believe About God Wm. Paul Young    Read by the Author
Another author I read everything from.  Paul wrote "The Shack" and some good stuff since then.  If you have trouble with God, read Paul Young's books.  He's worked through it and has an amazing way of feeling about the world.  Listened to mostly in a hot tub in Missouri.

The Evolution of Adam Peter Enns    Kindle
I bought this a while back and forgot to read it.  It's a touch drier than the other one above, but if you want to hear about ancient near east history and biblical history, it's chock full of it, and I do, so I was happy.  What I didn't care so much about was all the arguments why the story of Creation doesn't need to be read literally which was a point I had already moved past in my journey.  But if you are in that point on your journey, it is very helpful.  Like often happens in Enns books, there was quite a bit of "good to know" stuff in the history part and quite a few "huh, didn't think about it that way" in the theology parts.

Breathing Underwater Richard Rohr    Audiobook
Another book relating to alcoholism, this book was jam packed with mind blowing material.  Top three Rohr books.  It explores the connections to spirituality through the 12 Steps, step by step.  As you can tell, Richard is blowing my mind a lot lately, helping to form my spirituality.  At this writing I am reading a paper book, a Kindle book, and in the midst of a lecture series on Paul all at once.

The Idolatry of God Peter Rollins     Read by the Author
I bought this a while back but never read it because I was kind of hesitant to read it because Rollins likes to burn things down (his "Pyrotheology") and I didn't need that at the time.  There were a few of his arguments I didn't buy, but overall, he had a lot of good stuff to say, not about filling the God shaped hole, but about getting out of the God shaped hole paradigm.  Speed this one up a little, and I hope you like accents, because Peter Rollins is Irish as hell.

Well, there you go.  And remember, half the country doesn't read books at all.  I know quite a number of people who have never read a book after they got out of school.  Stones are for sharpening swords, books are for sharpening minds.  Who knows where I'd be navigating my depression without good books to read.  Major lesson I learned this year, you can't have a resurrection without dying first.  There is no meaningful growth that results from success, but only from failure and pain.

Happy New Year

Monday, November 27, 2017

Planting a Church that becomes an Institution

I've been listening to a set of talks given by Richard Rohr entitled "Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction."

He says: "As soon as you have even a so-called renewed group, within five years, it's an institution, Here I thought I was the founder of New Jerusalem and very quickly it became an institution.  And I thought 'well, this certainly won't happen to us, I'm the founder! I'm just gonna keep it reformed." It doesn't happen! The very nature of a group is it institutionalizes itself.  Then it protects itself.  It seeks the level at which it wants to live and then it sort of digs its heels in and says 'it's nice here.'"

Wow, mind blown!  Do you see what I see here?  Can you see in your past what he's talking about here?

Have you ever been part of a church plant or came in during the early stages?  I have, I came in in the relatively early stages of New Heights Church in Fayetteville Arkansas.  And it was great, fantastic dynamic teaching, good music, living and lively small groups.  When we joined, membership was around 200, I think.  The church was fairly new, just a couple years old.  It was incredible, we loved it so much.  Later that year, we moved to the nearby Boys and Girls Club, where the church continues to reside to this day.  And the growth continued.  When I left, membership was in the 2000 range, with weekly attendance well over 1000.

But even well before that time, things had started taking a turn I was unhappy with.  Over the years, the church had hired more and more "pastors" and other full time staff.  I had taken over setting up and tearing down the sound system in my first year and in the beginning, that was a vital job and I was invited to staff retreats and Christmas parties and the whole bit.  But at a certain point, part time staff like myself were no longer invited to staff events.  Was my job any less important?  I was managing a crew of five people.

The church officially started to support and oppose political things.  Agree or disagree with these stances, I am not okay with a church literally taking sides in political issues and allowing staff to support partisan political efforts on company time.

Let me give you a third example from one of my favorite speakers and writers, Rob Bell.  He founded Mars Hill Bible Church in 1999.  It quickly grew to be huge and got a big building and hired staff and did all the other stuff.  I listened to Rob's sermons for years, right up until he had to leave in 2011.  You see, Rob was an excellent dynamic and powerful speaker.  But he continued to evolve and grow and the church he founded was amazing and from what I heard was doing amazing renewed things.  But pretty quickly it institutionalized.  And when Rob continued to grow, he couldn't bring it along with him.  Of course I don't know all the details, but I do know that he ended up leaving after publishing Love Wins, which was a book pointing out that the eternal destination of all people is not as certain as many think.  One of the stories Rob is fond of telling is that at one point some people in his church tried to have his ordination revoked, just for believing that women could be pastors too!

So the reason why what Richard said blew my mind is that for many years now I have had it in my head or heart or whatever to start a church.  And I want that church to be renewed and revolutionary and revived and the whole thing.  But, this principle means that eventually it will become my job and as I continue to grow and evolve, the church will start exerting more pressure on me than I can on it.  And knowing me, eventually I'll have to leave.

So the challenge is, how do I (we) subvert that institutionalization?  How can we create a community that continually destroys and rebuilds itself so that it never becomes stuck in a building?  How can we avoid creating a cultural ethos that will eventually backfire on me as it desires to stand still while I desire to keep walking?

I don't have the answers here, but knowing the question is a step in the right direction.

Monday, September 26, 2016

I Don't Believe...

I don't believe in luck. I believe in chance and skill.
I don't believe that demons are expelled when you sneeze, so there's no need to say "bless you."
Homeopathy is bullshit.
Everybody is "aware" of breast cancer.
"Engagement rings" are a scam cooked up by DeBeers to sell diamonds.
Bigfoot IS out of focus.
Kim Kardashian is out of proportion.
For profit charities bring in more money than not for profit ones.
Drink whatever tastes good, wine connoisseurs are con artists.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Upcoming adventure: Skoolie

A skoolie is a used school bus converted into a motorhome (or some other vehicle) which extends the useful life past the 15 or so years that school districts use them.

I want to take something like this:

...and turn it into something like this:

...on the way to becoming a finished motorhome.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Another Blog Reboot

Dear followers, those of you that still exist.

Congratulations!  You've managed to still be following this blog more than two years after the latest post!

I've gone through a lot of emotional and life changes in the last few years.  I moved to Denver, then now to Medford Oregon, and then again to another place in Medford Oregon.  I lost a job, got a new job, quit that job and now been unemployed for almost a year.

And that's caused a few changes in life.

So, I call myself an Adventurer now, and a stay at home dad, and a beekeeper too.  My idea of this being a politics blog never took form.  And before that, a religion blog, and a renewable energy blog, and pretty much a lot of other topics.  Just look at the word cloud to the left.

So this is my adventure blog now.  These are my adventures.  All the time I try to do new things, experience new experiences, enhance my intellect by simply taking actions that I've never taken before, eating new foods, visiting new places, jumping off new bridges, driving new routes, sitting on new toilets.

So come along with me.  Maybe you can live vicariously through me.  Send in suggestions, I will do as many things as I can.  And if you help me get there and pay for them, I'll be that much more likely to do them.

And this being about me stuff, that's a new thing too.  This blog used to be anonymous.  Now it's me.  Let's try that.

Friday, July 11, 2014

British Vs. American Electrical Plug Systems

I love electricity.

I think it is the best way to do lots of things.  There are loads of ways to make it, even more to use it.

After reading this post on Treehugger:  ... well, I guess they deleted it because it was in ignorant piece of crap journalism.  It was written by Lloyd Alter by the way.

And seeing other posts in other places, like this video: 

So I want to weigh in.  Because our system here in America is a good system, but nothing is ever so good that it cannot be improved upon.

Look at the following picture:

As you can see, there are many different sorts of plugs.  Not only are the plugs different, but they use different voltages.  If you were to look at a nearby iPhone charger or wall wart of some other sort, you'd notice the input voltage range.  I happen to have a Kindle charger right here, the input range says 100-240 volts, 50-60 Hz.  That range covers the entirety of the standard available voltages and frequency of AC electricity.  That means, this little piece of electronic contraption can take any standard available form of electricty and convert it into 5 volts to charge your phone or tablet or whatever else.  And as you surely know by now, most electronics are like this, computers, monitors, receivers, TVs.  So they are all very adaptable.  In fact, a couple years ago, my church bought some subwoofers and they actually came with two plugs, one American plug and one from Germany.

Let's look at the benefits of the American plugs first.  The number one benefit is probably that they are cheap and simple.  They use no special contraptions, they use a minimum of metals, and they are very inexpensive.  They have small holes which prevent larger objects from being inserted.

Some downsides, you can zap yourself if they are not completely plugged in, and most of all, they run 120 volts.  In electricty, amperage, or the volume flow of electrons, is what is dangerous.  You can have millions of volts run through your body at a low amperage and you can survive, not that it won't hurt.  But if you have just enough voltage to pass through your skin, and plenty of amperage (or amps), it can kill you dead.  The higher the voltage you have available, the lower the amps can be to produce the same amount of power.  Volts times amps equals watts.  For instance, if you are using a vaccuum that uses 10 amps, you are drawing 10*120=1200 watts.  That same vacuum were it using 240 volts would only use 5 amps while drawing the same 1200 watts.  So you can see, a higher voltage supply means lower amps, and that would mean lower amperage breakers so then when you get zapped, they will be more likely to trip before killing you.  Another downside is since the voltage is lower, there are greater line losses, half the voltage means four times the loss.

I have zapped myself a number of times, and almost always it has been when I was messing around with bare wires.  The available plugs are generally safe.  But they can get better and could do so without much added expense.

The first thing I'd say to do is switch to 240 volts immediately.  We all (in America) already have 240 volts coming to our house.  Most of us have one or more 240 volt plugs also, used for dryers, ovens, stoves, furnaces, or other high power receptacles.  I have a small one, virtually the same size as a typical 120 volt outlet, in my garage from which I charge my electric car.  Our wiring can already typically handle 15-20 amps, and is rated for 600 volts so wiring does not need to be replaced.  The plugs would need to be replaced and light bulbs would need to be replaced, as well as a few other applicances.  However, simple transformers could be used to step the voltage down from 240 to 120.

I don't know if you think any of these suggestions are useful, but that's my view.  The plug we have in the US is the result of many years of market forces.  The British plug which is large, complicated, and relatively expensive, is the result of WWII materials shortages, and a more controlling government that can do things like mandate how things are wired.  I'm not saying this is a bad thing, it's just the fact of the matter.  At any rate, I seriously doubt there will be any change in US plugs any time soon, if ever.