Monday, December 31, 2012

Bookin' It in 2012

I set a personal best this year -- reading the following 21 books in '12. The titles in bold were particularly influential, inspiring or interesting.

1.    Jonestown Survivor: An Insider’s Look - Laura Johnston Kohl 

2.    The Writing Life - Annie Dillard

3.    Happy Accidents - Jane Lynch

4.    Unfair: Why the "Christian" View of Gays Doesn't Work - John Shore

5.    Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative - Austin Kleon

6.    The Trouble With Poetry - Billy Collins

7.    Metropolitan Life - Fran Lebowitz

8.    The Living End: A Memoir of Forgetting and Forgiving - Robert Leleux

9.    Gay Conversations with God: Straight Talk on Fanatics, Fags and the God Who Loves Us All - James Alexander Langteaux

10. Wittgenstein’s Lolita - William Gay

11. Rubyfruit Jungle - Rita Mae Brown

12. Freedom Is Blogging in Your Underwear - Hugh MacLeod

13. Poke the Box - Seth Godin

14. Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser - Rita Mae Brown

15. The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves - Sarah Moon

16. Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) - Frank Schaeffer

17. Blankets - Craig Thompson

18. Patience & Sarah - Isabel Miller

19. Holidays on Ice - David Sedaris

20. Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer's Life - Michael Greenberg  

21. Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers - Anne Lamott

Seth Godin:

If there's no clear right answer, perhaps the thing you ought to do is something new.  Something new is often the right path when the world is complicated.

Poke the Box, p. 43

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Frank Schaeffer:

Talk about unregulated banks and hedge funds, the biggest unregulated American market is big-time religion (and it's tax-free!).  Its success isn't measured in spiritual gain that changes anything for the better.  As big-time as religion is in the United States compared to highly secular Europe, nevertheless America's teen sex statistics, abortion rates, spread of STDs, divorce statistics, and rates of child rape are higher than those in non-church-going Europe. 

Patience With God, p. 94

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Evagrius Ponticus:

Do not define the Deity: for it is only of things which are made or are composite that there can be definitions.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rita Mae Brown:

Sometimes a letter will arrive from someone who says I saved his or her life.  Thank you, but I didn't.  You saved your life.  I just reminded you that life is worth living even when one is suffering.

Rita Will, p. 438

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Austin Kleon:

The art of holding on to money is all about saying no to consumer culture.  Saying no to takeout, $4 lattes, and that shiny new computer when the old one still works fine.

Steal Like an Artist, p. 121

Monday, December 24, 2012

Seth Godin:

Of course, the challenge of being the initiator is that you'll be wrong.  You'll pick the wrong thing, you'll waste time, you'll be blamed.  That is why being an initiator is valuable.  Most people shy away from the challenge.  They've been too abused, they're too fearful, they hold back, they're happy to let someone else take the heat.  Initiative is scare.  Hence valuable.

Poke the Box, p. 27

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Frank Schaeffer:

Unhappy men serving a weird, angry God make bad husbands, especially if "serving God" provides an excuse for covering up (and thus never dealing with) one's faults in the name of protecting one's ministry.

Patience With God, p. 147

Friday, December 21, 2012

G. K. Chesterton:

Having the right to do something is not the same as being right in doing it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rita Mae Brown:

Jerry couldn't face the encroaching pain.  I faced it early.  I hated it then and I hate it now, but it's a fact of my life and I'll be damned if I'm going to throw away this magical life, this earthly delight, just because people will harshly judge me.

Rita Will, p. 392

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Robert Frost:

Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Austin Kleon:

Validation is for parking.

Steal Like an Artist, p. 111

Monday, December 17, 2012

Seth Godin:

If you see something, say something...Why would anyone hesitate to report (something dangerous)?  Because we've been taught to shut up and keep our heads down.  Because the authorities don't actually like gadflies or neighborhood-watch busybodies.  So they make it uncomfortable to speak up.  In many police departments, the first suspect in a dispute is the one who took the time to call it in.

Poke the Box, p.36-37

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Karin Bergquist:

My job description requires of me that I give people the opportunity to forget.  To rest.  Even if it is just for an evening.  But my job description simultaneously requires that I dare not neglect the directive to remind us all that we live in a very broken world.  And so, I walk the line...with reverence and tears.  With respect and humility.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Frank Schaeffer:

The only reason why I still place my hope in God is that I had the good fortune to abandon a position of leadership in the evangelical/fundamentalist world when I was still young enough to make a new life ... And conversations became conversations rather than evangelical ploys, as I discovered that other people -- even though they might not be like me and might have ideas opposite to mine -- sometimes actually have something to say, when you're not just waiting to pounce and deliver a "spiritual" coup de grĂ¢ce. 

Patience With God, p. 146-147

Friday, December 14, 2012

G. K. Chesterton:

We need priests and pastors to remind us that someday we're going to die and we need musicians and poets to remind us that we're not dead yet.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rita Mae Brown:

We build lives that work, more or less.  As we age we must continually dismantle and rebuild, like the pink chambered nautilus.  We need a bigger shell.  I mean shell, too.  A healthy covering is necessary in this world.  You've got to know who to let in and who to shut out.

Rita Will, p. 358

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Robert Frost:

By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Austin Kleon:

Your parents invent you, and you take it from there.

Steal Like an Artist, p. 148

Monday, December 10, 2012

Seth Godin:

If you sign up for the initiative path and continue on it when others fret about "quality" and "predictability," you will ultimately succeed.  The crowd won't stop worrying, because worrying is what they enjoy doing.  But that's okay, because you'll be making a difference and using your newfound leverage to do more and more work that matters.

Poke the Box, p. 17

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Daniel Dennett:

Who is right?  I don't know.  Neither do the billions of people with their passionate religious convictions.  Neither do those atheists who are sure the world would be a much better place if all religion went extinct.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Frank Schaeffer:

The open and questioning thread weaves another and more tolerant and nuanced color into the tapestry of faith.  This too has been there from the beginning of the Jewish and Christian traditions.  It represents the compassionate, mystical approach to faith in God -- in other words, enlightenment.

Patience With God, p. 18

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bertrand Russell:

Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rita Mae Brown:

The one thing I must protect in this life is my talent.  Imagination is exotic; it needs shelter.

Rita Will, p. 321

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Robert Frost:

To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Austin Kleon:

Write the book you want to read.

Steal Like an Artist, p. 42-43

Monday, December 3, 2012

Seth Godin:

Initiative is a little like creativity in that both require curiosity.  Not the search for the "right" answer, as much as an insatiable desire to understand how something works and how it might work better.

Poke the Box, p. 24

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Daniel Dennett:

Even atheists and agnostics can have sacred values -- values that are simply not up for re-evaluation at all....[M]y sacred values are obvious and quite ecumenical: democracy, justice, life, love, and truth.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Frank Schaeffer:

Perhaps both atheists and religious fundamentalists have been looking through the wrong end of the same worn-out telescope. 

Patience With God, p. 14