Good Stuff I’ve Read

We live in an information-saturated world. A lot of what we read is skewed, or unhelpful. But underneath the avalanche of data and detritus, there is good stuff to be found. And when I find good stuff, why should I keep it to myself? Here’s some of what I’ve read recently that I think is worth your time. See if these enlighten/encourage/educate you like they did me:

A 92-year-old Holocaust survivor living in Denver still teaches piano. Did coronavirus stop her? Are you kidding? Not only is she continuing to do lessons online, she recently hosted her students’ spring recital on Zoom.

This week, I finished reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Albert Einstein. I can honestly say that I don’t really understand physics anymore than when I started. I resonate with Chaim Weizmann, who went with Einstein on his first visit to the U.S. – and who would later go on to become the first president of Israel. About their voyage by ship from Europe to the U.S., Weizmann said, “During the crossing, Einstein explained his theory to me everyday, and by the time we arrived I was fully convinced that he really understands it.”

Though clearly a genius, Einstein was no … Einstein when it came to relationships. He was married twice, and struggled to stay connected to his two sons. Near the end of his life, in a letter to his long-time friend Michele Besso, Einstein marveled at Besso’s lifelong marriage to his wife. Your most admirable personal trait, Einstein wrote to Besso, was living in harmony with a woman – “an undertaking in which I twice failed rather miserably.”

Which leads into another book I’m enjoying: a collection of letters from C.S. Lewis, compiled in the book Yours, Jack. In a 1944 letter to Arthur Greeves, Lewis describes how he would meet his brother, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams at the local pub for regular conversation:

…the fun is often so fast and furious that (others) probably think we’re talking bawdy when in fact we’re very likely talking Theology.

What it would have been like to have a seat at that table! And then, there are these insightful words on love and marriage:

The modern tradition is that the proper reason for marrying is the state described as ‘being in love’. Now I have nothing to say against ‘being in love’: but the idea that this is or ought to be the exclusive reason or that it can ever be by itself an adequate basis seems to me simply moonshine. …Doesn’t the modern emphasis on ‘love’ lead people either into divorce or into misery, because when that emotion dies down they conclude that their marriage is a ‘failure’, though in fact they have just reached the point at which real marriage begins. It would be undesirable, even if it were possible, for people to be ‘in love’ all their lives. What a world it would be if most of the people we met were perpetually in this trance! (C.S. Lewis, letter to Mary Neylan, April 18, 1940)

This week I was on a video call with 3 counselors at a local middle school. When one of them announced that pools would be open May 25, the others whooped and hollered like middle school kids. It’s been that kind of year. This 4-minute video gives you a taste of how these past couple of months have challenged our teachers. If you’re a teacher or school employee, thank you! Now more than ever, we realize how important you are!

Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan’s Friday column, I came across Samuel Pepys’s daily diary – part of which he kept throughout the plague of 1665-66 that killed nearly 1 in 4 Londoners. I’m planning to read his diary, day-by-day – 355 years later, to the day. We’ll see how that goes….

Finally, a reason to smile: this 70-second video of a woman who found a way to hug her mom on Mother’s Day – with necessary coronavirus precautions!

 

Author:

I’m Jeff Dye. After 16 years on staff at a healthy, outreach-minded church, I currently have a ministry called The Paraklesis Project. In the New Testament, “paraklesis” means encouragement — which is what I seek to bring to churches of all sizes through speaking and consulting.

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