Did I Build a Structure?

2 workmen building a foundation

I wrote last week about the fact that structure, properly used, can set us free to do what we really want to do. Knowing the intricacies of a musical composition so well that you’ve built muscle memory means that when you actually get up to perform you can focus on the performance. Your structure is in place; you can now build on that.

So, this past weekend I was once again in charge of the retreat breakfast for my wonderful, wonderful chorale.  I would say there were at least 75 people there. It ain’t quite the same as running a Presidential campaign, but still!

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“This Is the Saddest Story . . . “


The Invisible Front:  Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War by Yochi Dreazen, Crown Publishers, 2014.

If you’re a fan of early 20th-Century fiction (or if you’ve taken college-level literature classes), you probably recognized the title of this post as being the first line of Ford Maddox Ford’s novel The Good Soldier.  This book is indeed beyond sad:  the story of a military family, the father a two-star general, who lose two sons:  one to suicide and one to battle.  It caught my eye on the new books shelf at the library, and I checked it out thinking that I probably wouldn’t read much of it since it would be unbearable.   What pulled me along was the quality of the writing:  Dreazen is a well-respected military journalist, and he tells this story without any attempt to wring tears from his readers, which he doesn’t have to do anyway.  The story speaks for itself.  He is able to bring many voices into his narrative; people were astonishingly open with him.

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The Importance of Humility

Humility Book Mahaney

Humility:  True Greatness by C. J. Mahaney, Multnomah Books, 2005. Link is to the book’s Amazon page.

This little book packs a lot into a few pages.  We’d had it around the house for years and I’d never read it, which is a shame, as I could have benefited from it much sooner.  At first I struggled to get through it, as I found it a bit dry.  Come on, C.J.!  Tell us a few jokes, the way you do in your sermons!  (I’ve heard Mahaney speak several times when he was a guest preacher at a former church.)  As the book went on, though, I became more and more involved in it.  The best chapters come at the end.

Let me quote from chapter 9, “Encouraging Others”:

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Two for the Price of One

PicturePlato at the Googleplex:  Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein.  New York:  Pantheon Books, 2014. Link is to the author’s website.

So . . .a 400+-page book on philosophy.  Real promising, isn’t it?  I hope I can persuade you to read it, even though parts of it are quite challenging and dense.  Sometimes you finish a book with a feeling of satisfaction:  “I made it through.”  Sometimes with almost a sigh of relief:  “So that’s what happened!”  But once in a great while, at least for me, there’s a feeling of regret:  “Now I won’t get to be in the company of these characters any more.”  And that’s how I felt about the character of Plato in this book.  Suddenly I realized, “Oh no!  I’m almost finished, and I don’t want to be.  I want to go along with Plato into more of our modern world, hearing his take on all sorts of other situations.”  I hope I can get across in this post what a charming, gracious, focused person Plato is in this book.  He is never defensive.

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