Book Review: Embracing Obscurity

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I received an advance reader’s edition uncorrected proof in advance of publication in exchange for an honest review.

Most people have the desire to be known and be somebody. Our society celebrates those who are able to produce an audience. The holy grail of our culture is to be known. This desire gets played out in the social media scene with the fixation on collecting friends and followers. We act like being known, or being “somebody,” will give us the significance we desire.

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Rewired – A Review

[amazon asin=0984904107&title=Rewired&template=thumbnail] I received copy of Rewired: How to Work Smarter, Live Better, and Be Purposefully Productive in an Overwired World for review. Even though my background is in technology, and I love technology, I have found it, at times, intrusive. I’ve also wondered if my connection to technology has, in some ways, affected my ability to concentrate, and, as odd as it sounds, be productive.

Dr. Camille Preston is a psychologist, organizational consultant, and leadership coach. In Rewired, she suggests that many people are not just wired, but they are overwired. Being overwired causes us to feel stressed, burned out, and as if we are always “on” 24/7.

Dr. Preston makes a strong case that it is time to step back and unwire so we can rewire and be “purposely productive.” The problem, she writes, of being overwired is, “the inability to do one thing, properly, at a time.” I agree with her assessment. The distraction that technology provides harms the ability to focus and think deeply. As I read the book, I realized there are times when I check my email, phone, etc. even after I checked a few moments earlier. I find myself turning to my technology as a way to be distracted, not realizing it hurts my ability to be focused.

The book is broken into four main parts: Overwired, Unwiring, Rewiring for Wellness, and Success! Overwired gives evidence of the effects of technology to our productivity, relationships, and our brains and bodies. Preston gives steps in part two, Unwiring, on how we can unwire our tangled technological lives. In part three, she discusses how we can be purposeful with technology and use it as a tool to actually make our lives better. Part four of the book, Success, contains accounts of those who have successfully unwired and rewired their lives and the changes they’ve experienced.

Preston was successful in making her case that technology, while promising to make our lives better, has caused some harm. Her prescription is also strong. It was evident that her experience as an organizational consultant and  leadership coach helped her not only see the issues involved with being overwired, but also gave her the insight to see how to become “rewired” or, in other words, allowing technology to make us purposely productive.

I appreciated the “Takeaways” after each section because they highlighted the important information. As I read the book, I recognized elements of strong presentations. She let the reader know what was going to be covered, covered it, and then reminded the reader what was covered. This, I believe, was extremely helpful.

On a more negative note, so much repetition made the book seem smaller than its 88 pages. While the material in the book was strong, I wanted more, especially in the first part  of the book. She did quote some studies and research, but I felt there could have been much more in regards to what technology does to our brains, bodies, and relationships. It seemed that she interviewed a couple of experts and they become her main “go to” researches. I found I wanted more.

That being said, the book is extremely valuable, especially for those of us who find ourselves fixated and focused on technical tools so much that they cease to be tools, and become toxic. Preston not only gives hope, but help in getting our lives rewired and back on track to purposeful productivity and a more meaningful life.

Review: Answering God

Answering God

Over the past few months I’ve been reading through the Psalms and Proverbs each day. As I’ve read, I’ve become more interested in the book of Psalms. I picked a used copy book up by Eugene H. Peterson hoping it would give me some insight into the Psalms. What it did was give me desire to read the Psalms more, but also a desire to pray through the Psalms.

If you have ever read The Message you already know Peterson has a flowing style of prose. You will find that same style here. Every so often you run into a nuggets such as, “Human beings are in trouble most of the time. Those who don’ t know they are in trouble are in the worst trouble.”

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Jesus Died for This? Review (Kind of)

A couple of months ago I saw Becky Garrison offer her new book (Jesus Died for This?: A Satirist’s Search for the Risen Christ )to

anyone who was willing to blog about it. I try
to get a free book anytime I can. That’s how I roll. Anyway, I didn’t know much about Becky Garrison other than for some reason I had friended her on Facebook. She was friends of some of my friends (mostly authors I like) and I figured I might as well add her to the mix. At the time I didn’t know that she was a writer for the The Wittenburg Door (or simply, The Door) or a religious satirist.

Since I didn’t know much about Becky, I knew she knew absolutely nothing about me. So I sent her a message on Facebook along with my address, she responded, and graciously sent me a book a few weeks later. What I didn’t know was how chaotic my life would become. What I had hoped would be a couple week turnaround to read the book and blog about it has taken me a couple of months. Nevertheless, here is the review.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading the book. To be honest, I didn’t like it at first. I guess it was the satire that was rubbing me the wrong way. Garrison says what she thinks and sometimes it isn’t inline with cultural Christianity sensitivities. Now, I have no trouble with satire and I expected it based on the front cover (it is also what caused me to want to read the book). But sometimes I had to pause wondering if she didn’t take things a bit too far. At times it seemed like she had a chip on her shoulder or was a bit angry…but who isn’t a bit angry when it comes to how we, as Christians, sometimes live out out faith.

Another issue for me was the chapters didn’t seem to be leading me anywhere. I kept thinking it was some type of travel log. I tend to read non-fiction books and I think I simply wasn’t use to the genre being used. A couple of times, because of my schedule, I didn’t want to continue reading it.

That being said, I’m glad I stuck with it. The issues I had with the book were my own issues. As I continued reading the book I realized this book was different from most of the ones I usually read. She was leading me somewhere, but I couldn’t see it. As I continued traveling with her my heart started being touched. By the end of the book my heart was burning with the desire to discover the journey God calls me to. The book, it seems, is an attempt to paint a picture of what it looks to authentically follow Jesus.

Throughout the book Becky introduces to various aspects of living the Christian life. She does this through the story of her travels. In the book she recounts individuals she meets on her journey. Some of these are well known individuals, but the power of this book is in the unknown individuals. People who are living expressions of the love of God. They do what they do not for glory or notoriety, but because the love of God is burning within them and has to be made incarnate in some way.

I highly recommend this book, however, it could challenge you and the way you live your Christian life. Garrison says what she thinks and sometimes it can have a bite to it…although you might be chuckling as you get bit! In the end, if you have ears to hear what she is saying, you might just discover the heart of God for the least and the lost.