Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (a review)

On Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to go see a screening of Minimalism, which is a documentary put together by The Minimalists, some of my favorite podcasters (much better known for their website and books). Unlike their other projects, though, this was mostly dedicated to yelling the stories of other minimalists, including Courtney Carver, Joshua Becker, Leo Babauta, and Tammy Strobel. What’s awesome about that is minimalism is often portrayed as something only single white guys do, so it was a lot of fun to see the ways in which these other individuals interacted with the idea of minimalism. Continue reading

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A Better Alternative to a Bucket List

Do you have a bucket list? It’s usually a highly aspirational collection of accomplishments and adventures you want to complete before you, well, kick the bucket. The idea was popularized in the 2007 movie “The Bucket List” and has since spawned many websites, books, blogs, and artistically filtered pictures on Pinterest. That’s how you live life to the fullest, right? Set audacious goals?

The Problem with Bucket Lists

The truth is, though, bucket lists aren’t really lists of “goals,” or at least, not in any helpful sense. They tend to be vague, at least in a plan of execution, and don’t have a deadline. In my experience, deadlines are one of the most helpful motivators in the world. Without a deadline, your bucket list ends up being a “someday” list — full of things that would be nice to do, but that you probably won’t fight too hard to accomplish. At least not until, well, someday. Continue reading

Habit RPG: Your New Best Friend

Okay, it’s official. I’ve found the most fun productivity program ever. It’s called “HabitRPG,” and if you’re obsessed with gamifying things  like me, it’s pretty awesome. It’s like a to-do app, but the functionality is a lot wider. You can add habits, which are things you want to encourage or discourage yourself doing; dailies, which are thing you want to complete on a regular basis (daily, weekly, etc); and to-dos, exactly as they sound.

The program is, as its name suggests, RPG, and completing these things gives you health and XP. As you go, you can level up, find pets, raise them into steeds, buy armor and weapons, pick a class, etc. It’s super addicting, and for me it’s been a really good way to stay on track with habits, particularly ones that don’t take that much time but that I don’t think to do.

Anyway, it’s super fun, especially if you’re nerdy. Check it out!

A Review of “Our Suburb,” written by Darrah Cloud

Hearing that a local theater is producing an homage to “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder is not a promising beginning. An attempt to write an homage to the quintessential American classic is a daunting task for any playwright, and the somewhat clunky title did little assuage my doubts. I was honestly prepared to be thoroughly underwhelmed by the reworking of the classic, especially considering that “Our Town” was, in a way, my first introduction to theater, and holds a very special place in my heart.

To put it bluntly, I stand corrected. “Our Suburb” not only far outshone its somewhat awkward title, it actually may have been even more emotionally impactful for me personally than “Our Town” was. That may have been because of the age of the protagonist throughout the show: Cloud’s Emily equivalent (though quite her own person), Thornton, was in the last stages of high school and about to possibly enter college before her untimely (or very timely) demise at the end of the second act. Continue reading

Radical by David Platt: Review, Thoughts, and a Call to Action

Last night, I finished reading the book Radical by David Platt. You’ll probably recognize it by the cover if you click on the link: it’s the book with the bright orange cover and the subtitle, “Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.” It lives up to its title and its subtitle, too–this book is not for the faint of heart.

What really gets me about this book is not necessarily just how convicting it is–there are plenty of books that are–but how specifically it calls us to action. The first chunk of the book is paradigm-shifting, to be sure, but what really gives this book its strength is the practical plan it lays out at the end for taking action on that conviction. Radical challenges you to look at the gospel the way it really is, not the way you want it to be. It is a brave, insightful, and completely practical book, but in a way that could radically change your life. Continue reading

Lent, waiting, spring, and a new theme song

So, some of you know that I had a pretty rough Lent this year. Actually, rough may not be quite the word to describe it. Just very eventful. Lent changed a lot of things that I thought I knew and turned them upside down, causing me again and again to admit that I actually don’t have control over nearly as much as I think I do. Over anything, really. Sometimes it’s hard to admit to God’s sovereignty, especially when we think we know how everything’s going to turn out. This Lent saw a re-diagnosis (someone else’s), a mission trip, the Jubilee conference, a total reversal of my summer plans (with which came complete uncertainty about housing and internship situations), and various other kinds of craziness that caused me to rethink a lot of things. Continue reading

Happy Easter

In Old Testament times, sometimes serious agreements were created by taking animals and splitting them in half, then having the party who was making the promise walk between the halves, signifying that if they broke their part of the contract, they would be split apart like these animals.

In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abram, promising that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars and that they will return to their land. But it isn’t Abram who goes between the animal halves–it’s God, manifest as a smoking firepot and a flaming torch.

God keeps his end of the bargain, but less than a chapter later, Abram disregards God and, with Sarai, decides to let Hagar the handmaid have his son instead of the son that God promised. Abram already betrays the covenant. And on a larger scale, Israel betrays him–over and over and over. As does the rest of humanity. At this breaking of the covenant, what God did at its creation symbolizes that He is the one who will have to be torn apart.

Then, 2000 years ago, while Jesus was on the cross, just before he died, cried out, “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?” It means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The Father, one with the Son, had abandoned the Son. God had rent himself in two over humanity’s betrayal.

But our God is not dead–He is surely alive. Three days later, Jesus rose again, proving that when man destroyed the temple, He built it again in three days. God defeated death and literally tore himself in half to save us.

He is risen.

He is risen indeed.

Happy Easter.

 

Review: Les Miserables

I’ve gotten into a lot of conversations recently about the movie adaptation of Les Miserables, so I thought I’d go ahead and write a post expounding on my thoughts about the movie. First of all, know that I somehow managed to go into this movie knowing only three of the songs and almost nothing about the plot or the characters, despite the fact that I’m a theater person.

I went into this movie expecting it to be good. I did not go into this movie expecting to be awed, inspired, and moved (multiple times) to the point of tears. That, however, was my experience watching Les Miserables. Continue reading