I love books [really any form of great writing, short or long form]. I like them for the following reasons:
- I can escape into them: On a good, restful day, taking the time to read for myself helps me achieve an even higher state of zen, and on a crazy, tiring day, I can escape the traps of “my depressing life” thinking and jump instead into the world of the book I am reading, and this gives me deep solace and strength. Sometimes they even help me cry and grieve for the things I’ve probably been meaning to cry for, and they help me bring my guard down even if it’s for only a minute to feel what I have been feeling that day, that past week or the past year. Sometimes they bring a greater joy to the things I’ve been experiencing in my life by offering up similar and parallel scenarios that add more color and zest to the contexts of my real life stories.
- The authors help me live lives I’ll probably never have the chance of living with this one body. You can’t be in three places at once, but with books– you can! Limits to time, geography, and resources are blown away like “chaff from the wind” (sorry, I had to add in the Biblical reference – har har). I can imagine myself in the village of Combray, France, or find myself the next day in Middletown, Ohio on the suburban streets. I can bring myself back to post-war England in the 1940’s, where the last of true aristocracy habits were finally coming to an end. I can put myself in the shoes of the invisible black man of the early 19th and 20th centuries, of the white man experiencing discrimination from those that cry out “down with white privilege!” or even of the young Irish orphan in Tuam, relegated to a life of social marginalization and impoverished youth.
- Books elucidate thoughts I’m thinking and am grappling to understand better. They give me a deeper wisdom about the things out there and add another puzzle piece to the mental “map” I have about the kinds of people, lives, and thoughts I see co-existing in the world at large, from Chile to Cambodia, with time unbound. They tell me I really don’t know much, that I only know so much, and that I need to learn so, much, more in order to do the things I think I’m meant to do in this life (apparently according to the Social Security Administration, I have about 61.6 years, 739 months, or 22,484 days left to figure life out- time’s a tickin’). Every book, every line of well written prose gives me a deeper understanding for the human experience, of the brokenness amongst our global communities, of the complexities of our problems and our progress, and of the shared experiences we as humans all go through, sometime and somewhere on this Earth.
For those who’re not too much of a book reader, I’m sure you probably experience the same kind of things through a different medium. Maybe it’s art. Maybe it’s music or film. Maybe it’s through your career vocation, I don’t know.
Anyways, without further ado, here are my favorite books of 2017:
- Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight
2. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
4. Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter by Barbara Leaming
5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (recommended by friends Max and Sewon)
If you’re interested in seeing what else I’ve been reading, feel free to check out my Reading List, with a list of the books I’ve read from 2016 to present, and Wordy Treasures, which includes my favorite excerpts and aphorisms.
Resolutions written by 18th century theologian, John Edwards, at the tender age of 19.
He referred to these every week to nourish and stay committed to all that’s good in his soul. I hope reading upon these yourself leads to solace and encouragement, and breeds vision in yours.
You’ll find below an un-edited version of his list. If you prefer an easier read: His list categorized by subject matter
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the forementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. Vid. July 30, .
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
11. Resolved, when I think of any1 theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder.
12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself (as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.
27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.
30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the Golden Rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.
32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Proverbs 20:6, “A faithful man who can find?” may not be partly fulfilled in me.
33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining and establishing2 peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.
34. Resolved, in narrations never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.
37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec. 22 and 26, 1722.
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous,3 or matter of laughter on the Lord’s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.
39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no: except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.
41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.
42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God,
which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this 12th day of January, 1722—23.
43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were anyway my own, but entirely and altogether God’s, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, Jan. 12. Jan. 12th, 1723.
44. Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan. 12, 1723.
45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan. 12 and 13, 1723.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.
47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning, May 5, 1723.
48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.
49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.
50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.
51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.
54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in commendation4 of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.
55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.
56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9 and July 13, 1723.
58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May 27 and July 13, 1723.
59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill-nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July 11, and July 13.
60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4 and 13, 1723.
61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it–that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21 and July 13, 1723.
62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Ephesians 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully “as unto the Lord, and not to man; knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.” June 25 and July 13, 1723.
63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan. 14 and July 13, 1723.
64. Resolved, when I find those “groanings which cannot be uttered,” of which the Apostle speaks [Romans 8:26], and those “breakings of soul for the longing it hath,” of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalms 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23 and Aug. 10, 1723.
65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and everything, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton’s 27th sermon on the 119th Psalm.5 [[July 26 and Aug. 10, 1723.
66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.
68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23 and Aug. 10, 1723.
69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. Aug. 17, 1723.
“There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes are not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment? This too is meaningless- a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. but pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 5:12
This is my wonderful CG. It’s crazy to think that I’ve only known my friends here for a little over 3 months.
As a CG, we convene every week as a means to deepen our relationship with God and engage in fellowship. Here, I find myself being fed not just spiritually, but intellectually, physically, and emotionally. It’s almost indescribable to explain the encompassing and enormous nature of the benefits and joy I’ve received from these gatherings. I’ve also noticed that I’ve become more alert and acquired a heightened sensitivity to the going-ons in the world around me… to the conflicts and celebrations arising day by day in the personal lives of those I care about and also of those I was previously indifferent to.
Every week, we challenge each other with our questions regarding issues present in our world and current events, and around scripture; we ask each other about our careers, our job searches, our physical well-being – whether that leg is feeling better and how much exercise it’s taking, whether x project/x presentation last week went well; we rapidly learn intensely personal things about each other (exhibiting an unbelievable level of vulnerability and trust) I’m not sure I’ve ever learned this quickly in my other relationships.
We build one another up, and the effects of this is enduring and lasting throughout the week. Together, we actively seek and discuss ways to address and alleviate the hurt rampant in the broken world around us and to better each other as young citizens and humans bonded by a common belief.
Sometimes I wonder if without this CG, I’d have ever befriended them or have even crossed paths with them. We all come from very different backgrounds and paths in life, and our personalities range across the entire color spectrum; it really would be hard to explain our deep friendships in relation to our compatibilities in the traditional sense of the word here.
Yet, these people have quickly become a home to me unlike any other I’ve found, and I can’t imagine a world not knowing them and not loving them.
I only wish I could explain to you better just how good this feels. How good he is to me.
While the holiday season is indeed a time for many a celebration of significant histories propagated by religious institutions, it also heralds in a month of humanly epic proportions of consumption…
Engineer the perfect setup for a cozy evening in your urban abode this holiday, and use this time as an excuse to get some self-loving R&R.
1. Revolutionary Speakers
Patented intelligence and one tiny, savvy, smart sound system that packs an immersive sound experience in a very large room.
2. Silent Headphones
The first time I got my hands on Bose Headphones was when I “acquired” my dad’s QC 15s. Ever since, I’ve been hooked and fiercely loyal to this headphone line.
One of the best headphones I’ve ever used in my 24 years of existence– It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing, but personally, I really value being able to listen with uninterrupted focus to my music sans NYC noise over looking cool with my headphones. Function over form wins here for me.
Cnet Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/bose-quietcomfort-35/
3. Idyllic Drawings
While Jean Cocteau was rather infamously remembered for being an aggressive social climber (cool fact: he was actually slighted in a portrait painting by Modigliani for these very reasons) and a “celebrity friend,” I deeply appreciate Cocteau for the writings, films, and doodles he created throughout his life. I think these reveal most significantly the contents of his character which do deserve remembering.
4. Relaxing Drink
Not cloyingly sweet and not too crisp. I generally prefer red wine over white, but this one was really well balanced, and truly enjoyable to drink! Wine Spectator rates it in at a 91 — Good for drinking through 2022.
(Pouilly Fuissé is the appellation (A.O.C.) for this white wine (spec. Chardonnay grape) grown in Maçonnais (subregion) of Burgundy, France.
The labeling regulations for wine labels are very lenient; according to federal law, one is only required to list alcohol percentage if the proof is over 14%, and has liberal authority over what metric is signaled on the label header (such as Producer; Wine Region; Grape Variety). As a young wine drinker, these kind of things posed a great logistical challenge for me as I was trying to have deeper drinking experiences beyond that of a mere somatic examination. The Wine Spectator had an op-ed on this issue earlier this year, I’ll link it here once I’m able to find it– a much more informative source, if you’re interested in learning more about the consequences of unsystematic wine labeling!)
5. Hand Candy
Boasting a modest, but sublimely delicate design, the Zalto Universal is competitively suited for all kinds of magical, multi-purpose drinking. It’s an absolute pleasure drinking from this glass and being able to indulge 3 senses.
I’ll be having a very warm and agape holiday season, and I hope you do too.