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: With the weather warming up (hopefully), more people may soon be standing on the beach looking out across the vast ocean and wondering what’s on the other side. New maps reveal something much different than you might expect.
While Portugal might be directly across from New Jersey, if you jumped in the ocean and starting swimming in a straight line from Atlantic City, you would actually end up in South America. For other parts of the east coast, you would be swimming a long, long time—potentially all the way around the world to Australia. The difference comes when you factor in the specific direction the twisting coastline faces.
Besides being interesting, these maps can reorient your perspective to remind you that something exists far beyond what you can see. You can also imagine people on the other side of the world standing on a beach, looking out at the horizon, and not being able to see you either.
We always need to be reminded that so much exists outside of what we can see. And billions of people live outside of our view, many apart from Christ. The knowledge of both of those facts should challenge and convict us.
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), managing editor: I’ve always been something of a data geek. Before technology enabled us to create graphs and charts with a single click, I plotted survey responses by hand for a school project.
Later, as an editor, I often crunched numbers to find the stories behind the data: Did the least-prepared teachers get assigned to the poorest schools? Which neighborhoods were changing most rapidly as the city grew? I worked with writers and graphic artists to make the numbers understandable in everyday terms.
That’s why I was intrigued this week by a short video imagining the world’s population of 7 billion reduced to an easily grasped cadre of 100 people. Using data from the CIA’s World Factbook, the video illuminates the vast diversity and need in our world. Of those 100 hypothetical people, for example, 15 make less than $2 a day. Many lack shelter or clean water. Fewer than a third are Christian.
It’s a sobering reminder. “Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.” (Luke 12:48)
Bob Smietana (@BobSmietana), senior writer: My new favorite is the “Desert Island Discs” podcast. The long-running BBC radio show debuted in January 1942—just a few months after C.S. Lewis began giving his famed radio broadcast—and is now a podcast.
It’s an ingenious mash-up of talk radio and music. Each guest, known as a castaway, imagines themselves marooned on a desert island. Along with the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, they can bring 8 records. Over the course of an hour, they tell their life story, intercut with excerpts of the music.
The interviews are remarkably intimate. Talking about their favorite music puts the guests at ease, opening them up to talk about their childhoods, their families, and their work. It’s the perfect way to get someone to tell their life’s story.
Their musical choices are fascinating as well—even guests known for their hostility to faith often choose church music to accompany them on their desert island.
More than 500 of the interviews—from the 1950s through today—are now available as part of the show’s podcast. Among the guests: Alfred Hitchcock, P.L. Travers (creator of Mary Poppins), Roald Dahl, Sir Edmund Hillary, Gregory Peck, Sir Alec Guinness, P.D. James, David Tennant, Arthur Fiedler, Rev. W. Awdry (creator of Thomas the Tank Engine), Paul McCartney, Pavarotti, Eric Clapton, Jack Lemmon, Bill Gates, Malcolm Gladwell, and hundreds more.
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: I stumbled upon this ad for Everlast called,“Boxing Makes You Bigger.” At first, the spot seems like just another fitness ad about determination and hard work featuring a young boxer.
What the boy does at the end actually turns into a message of grace. He models Christlike behavior to his younger brother and shows sometimes true strength is showing restraint. It’s a good reminder to put others first.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?