What are you enjoying right now?
Sometimes, we need to step back and ask a question like that.
Philippians 4:8 challenges believers to think and dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.” So the Facts & Trends staff would like to regularly share our “Favorites” at the moment.
It might be a new book or podcast we’re enjoying or something going on in our lives we want to share. Hopefully, you’ll think about things that are your favorites right now and maybe find something else to add to that list.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor), online editor: We would not have all of the books and information about C.S. Lewis, one of the leading Christian writers and thinkers of the 20th century, without the tireless work of one man you’ve probably never heard of—Walter Hooper.
In a recent interview with Eric Metaxas on his radio show and podcast, The Eric Metaxas Show, Hooper describes flying from America to interview Lewis for a book, only to become the famous professor’s personal secretary. Unbeknownst to both Hooper and Lewis, this was the final year of Lewis’ life.
After the writer’s death, his brother feared not being able to handle all of the material Lewis had written, so he began to burn manuscripts, notebooks, and letters. Hooper rushed over, filled two large suitcases full of Lewis’ work, and pushed it to the bus station to save it from being lost in the flames. Since that time, he has worked to gather and publish scores of Lewis’ writings.
The stories Hooper shares are such an insight into who Lewis was a man and as a believer. They also serve as a reminder that serving behind the scenes can have a tremendous impact. Even though you may not have known his name, Walter Hooper is one of the main reasons we can read C.S. Lewis today.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: A couple of weeks ago, our friend Bob Smietana wrote this article on how to spot fake news stories. In the age of social media, it’s easy for untrue stories to take on lives of their own. I often see friends on Facebook share stories that turn out to be fake.
If only they had read the story (not just the headline) with a more discerning eye, they might have realized it was utterly ridiculous. Smietana offers some great advice on how to read stories and verify the facts so as not to embarrass yourself by sharing stories that aren’t factual. Good advice for all of us.
Matt Erickson (@_Matt_Erickson), managing editor: I own a good many books on writing I’ve never actually gotten around to reading—William Zinsser’s classic, On Writing Well, included. Lately, I’ve seen a number of people talking about how good it is, so I decided to pull it off the shelf and see for myself.
I’ve barely begun, but I’m already struck by the personal tone it takes at times—it’s not all nuts and bolts, thank goodness. Here’s what I mean:
“Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about but who he or she is. I often find myself reading with interest about a topic I never thought would interest me—some scientific quest, perhaps. What holds is the enthusiasm the writer has for the field. . . . This is the personal transaction that’s at the heart of good nonfiction writing. Out of it come two of the most important qualities that this book will go in search of: humanity and warmth.”
I find that refreshing. We’re not robots simply transferring data to other robots. We’re people conveying thoughts and ideas and arguments and passions to other people. Yes, we should aim for clarity of expression. Yes, correct grammar and syntax are necessary and important. (He covers these areas thoroughly.)
But, no, writing is not simply about following the rules. Focusing primarily on “correctness” results in too much self-consciousness and too little freedom. The sad result being “humanity and warmth” are lost. Anyway, I’m enjoying the book and I can see why it has achieved “classic” status.
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), senior writer: I’ve started reading The Road to Character, by New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks. Halfway through, I’m struck by his way of articulating the disquietude we feel in a selfie culture.
We have lost sight, Brooks says, of “one mindset that people through the centuries have adopted to put iron in their core and to cultivate a wise heart.” We have lost sight of humility.
In an earlier time, Brooks writes, people understood the brokenness of humanity. He describes listening to a recording of a radio show from the end of World War II.
“The people on that broadcast had been part of one of the most historic victories ever known. But they didn’t go around telling themselves how great they were. They didn’t print up bumper stickers commemorating their own awesomeness. Their first instinct was to remind themselves they were not morally superior to anyone else. Their collective impulse was to warn themselves against pride and self-glorification.”
Then he turned on a football game and saw a player’s “self-puffing victory dance, as the camera lingered. It occurred to me that I had just watched more self-celebration after a two-yard gain than I had heard after the United States won World War II.”
I am reminded of the words of Christ: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: One of my favorites this week was a podcast by Selma Wilson, Lifeway’s vice president of Organizational Development. It discussed “How to be Content in Every Season of Life.” Since my eldest daughter is about to start high school, I think I’m in the midst of a “season of change” so to speak.
The podcast was geared more toward parents of preschoolers, but it still applies to all parents. Wilson reminds us, “You have to set boundaries in your life. You can’t have it all at the same time. You really have to be careful about what you say you are going to do and not do.”
That’s so true; time is precious and your kids grow up, so you have to truly capture those moments.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?