i had a wonderful time being silent for the last few days. i was at a retreat in the mountains, at forest home camp, that ended wednesday at lunch. i drove down the hill and did a little grocery shopping; then drove back up and moved into one of forest home’s cabins. i had a stunning view of snow-covered mountains out my window. i stayed in that first cabin for two nights, until friday morning. then, because foho needed that cabin, i moved to another one of their cabins; this one didn’t have a view, but was nestled way up in some woods, without others around.
being a guy who naturally wants to “succeed” at stuff, i set the bar pretty low for myself. if i have a profound experience of god, fantastic (i did this time, btw). but my only measuring stick is that i shut up. that means no talking, for starters (except a little bit to myself!). but it also means no cell phone, no email, no internet, no tv, no nuthin’.
i find the first 24 hours or so are purely detox. i laid around, and finished three books (two of which i was mostly done with already, but one i’d only just started):
the know it all, which i’ve been reading since the nixon administration (it feels like). fun book, though clearly not compelling enough to get me to finish it at normal human speed.
are you there, vodka? it’s me, chelsea: she’s a very funny writer (it’s a collection of humorous autobiographical essays by comedienne chelsea handler). but, ultimately, too raunchy for me. i won’t bother writing a separate review of this book (which i will for the others).
deep church: my old co-worker jim belcher (from my days at lake avenue, in pasadena) has written this “third way” book, with one foot in the emerging church and one foot in reformed theological tradition. it’s being published by ivp this fall, i think, and i read the manuscript in order to write an endorsement, which i can, now, gladly write. this is the most gracious and fair critique of the emerging church yet published.
and i read two more books cover-to-cover:
the world is flat. yeah, finally got around to reading it. it’s been on my “to read” stack for two or three years, i think. i had mixed reactions, which i’ll post about later, in a review.
same kind of different as me. absolutely stunning book, which had me in tears. i’ve also had this on my “to read” stack for years, and was surprised to find the book inscribed on the inside, with a very nice personal note from someone who’s signature i could not read. i have a mystery to solve.
finally, i got about 3/4 through brendan halpin’s non-fiction, losing my faculties: a teacher’s story. great stuff.
i didn’t only read on my retreat. i slept. i sat in silence. i prayed. i wrote up a page of notes about some ideas that came to me for ys. i took a long walk in the woods one afternoon and thought about my wife and my marriage.
oh, and i had along with me the dvd for the two hour premiere of a new tv show called kings, which, ironically, premieres tonite (i think). i’d been sent the dvd of the premiere, and thought i might get around to watching it at some point. but now i’m in trouble, because the show was freakin’ awesome, and i’m worried about adding another tv show to my stable (ironically, i came home deciding i need to watch LESS tv).
anyhow, i’d heard that kings, to one degree or another, is a modern-day telling of saul and david. but, you know how those things go: i didn’t expect to really see the connection. but — wow — anyone with even the SLIGHTEST familiarity with the biblical story will recognize it. a few events happen slightly out of order, but the paralleling is strong and clear, which makes it really fun to watch. the modern day context looks like new york, but it’s some place called “shiloh”. it’s not futuristic or historic. so, it’s modern-day, but not our reality; which is a really interesting space to explore. anyhow, i’m really intrigued to see how they play out the biblical story-line in the weeks and months to come. will they only have the “saul” character in the storyline this season (assuming the show gets picked up beyond this season), and move into “david’s” story (the characters on the show aren’t named “saul” and “david”, btw, though they and the other key characters from the biblical narrative are all there, with exactly the same characteristics they have in the biblical story) later on? also, knowing the biblical story, i’m intrigued to see how they play out things like david and jonathan’s friendship, “the stronghold”, and other pieces.
so, recommended watching for now (but who knows, it could suck within weeks!).
that’s about it! i woke up very early saturday morning, and drove a couple hours straight to my church, to participate in a parent training day (i spoke about the macro changes in adolescence and youth culture). then, it was good to be home, and jeannie and i spent most of the afternoon sitting in the backyard getting caught up.