books read in the past few weeks

i’m frustrated with how little i’ve been reading. there’s a good reason: i haven’t been traveling for a few weeks! anyhow, i finally finished a book that took me way too long to read, and another i read in one plane flight the other day…

West of Jesus: Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief, by Steven Kotler.

my friend lars rood recommended this book, saying it was donald miller-ish. it is, in that it weaves through autobiographical stories and wanders around making points in subtle ways (i mean that in a good way — i like that writing style). of course, unlike donald miller, the themes kotler explores are: surfing (both stories of his own experiences, as well as stories from the history of surfing), belief (especially looking at the question of why surfing seems to be more ‘spiritual’ than other sports), near-death and out-of-body experiences, the neurological origins of faith and euphoria, and others. it’s not a christian book, though i don’t think the author intends it to be explicity anti-faith either. there’s an interesting line at one point when he’s referring to some neurological discovery about a part of the brain that, when stimulated — which happens both when surfing and was also found to happen in meditating monks and a couple other euphoric ‘spiritual’ experiences — creates the sensations we would commonly associate with spiritual experience. kotler very strongly points out that the researchers say this is neither evidence for or against the existence of god.

i liked this book. but i didn’t love it. it wandered just a bit too much. i found myself really looking forward to his surfing stories, which either says something about my shallowness, or something about his writing in the other sections (or both). i would still recommend the book to people who are intrigued by the intersection of the subjects i mentioned above.

The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living with a Grande Passion, by Leonard Sweet.

i read a galley proof of this manuscript that comes out — i think — in january, in order to write an edorsement. len continues on his exploration of EPIC (experiential, participatory, some i-word — i’m blanking right now!, and communal) as a description of the passionate life jesus offers, or calls us to. he looks at the business and culture of starbucks as an example worthy of learning from, with the contention that they really seeem to ‘get’ this EPIC stuff.

i’m not sure i’d call it life-changing stuff. but it’s a nice read, especially if, like me, you get pretty excited about the subject of passion and the hot beverage of coffee. i expected to find the starbucks bits overdone and forced — but they weren’t at all.

2 thoughts on “books read in the past few weeks”

  1. Hey my friend Mike Devries has had a number of conversations with Steven Kotler and is trying to set up a time to go surfing. He’s not a believer (as far as we know) but is really thinking through all that. I agree with you about the book. I really wished for a little bit more of surf stories. He wrote a little above my head. Another great author if you want the beatnik surf style is Daniel Duane. He has written some amazing stuff “Lighting Out” and “Caught Inside” have changed my perspective on the importance of life from a totally non-Christian point of view.

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