Life-Giving Resources from the Last Few Years

Hi there. It’s been a while. Perhaps a four-year absence from blogging warrants a catch-up? Maybe let’s start with a little roundup of several good, true and beautiful things that have captured my attention while I’ve been away.  A few years ago, I watched my favorite movie for the first time. It is a story that argues with everything we’re being told in modern culture about the end justifying the means. It pushes against the utilitarian concept that what’s important is coming out ahead. Instead, the main character, walking in integrity, suffers every hardship. Worse, he is constantly told, “You’re not making any difference.” Isn’t that the argument assaulting every one of us, in some way or another? The closing shows a quote from George Eliot’s book Middlemarch, which was so moving to me in the context of the film, I ended up finding the 1,000-page novel and reading it cover to cover. For the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to it on audio again. In case you haven’t yet seen the movie or read the book, I’ll save the spoilers and move instead to a different quote that gives nothing away. A character named Will talks to a woman about the point of beauty. He says:
The best piety is to enjoy – when you can. You are doing the most then to save the earth’s character as an agreeable planet. And enjoyment radiates. It is of no use to try and take care of all the world; that is being taken care of when you feel delight – in art or in anything else.
I have thought about that quote a hundred times or more. The best piety is to enjoy. Will goes on to say something to the effect of, What are you, trying to be a martyr, unable to take any pleasure as it comes? This connects with another book I read in 2020, Living Life Backwards. Not a novel. Not classic literature. A commentary, actually. About the ancient book of Ecclesiastes. In it, David Gibson argues that the best way to live is to realize you’ll eventually die. To view all of life as “gift, not gain.” In that context, he says:
God commands joy and happiness and delight. They are not optional extras for the Christian believer living in the prime of life. Enjoyment is a command, and to break God’s commands is always to trample his law and to invite his judgment.
In other words, to not “go eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a merry heart” is not just a bummer; it’s wrong. This all ties back to the site you’ve landed on, named in honor of a verse in the very book Gibson is explaining. So here we are. I started this site to celebrate enjoying God’s gifts by digging into food topics. Over the last four years, I didn’t have anything along those lines to say. But, recently I’ve remembered, all truth, goodness and beauty is worthwhile — whether anyone validates it or notices it or uses it in an overt way. Everything good matters. So maybe I should just start with saying that.

Other great stuff:

  • Way-Maker by Ann Voskamp / I’ve read this three times. It changed my entire trajectory. I posted a longer review here, and this interview is also a great sampler of what’s inside. It highlights a message God keeps giving me: Be close to me. Trust me. 
  • Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel / This is probably the most meaningful parenting book I’ve read, although this one also made a big impact.
  • Theology of the Home II / This is the second of four in a series, and I enjoyed them all. Rich, beautiful reflections on the value of home.
  • “Foyle’s War” / Someone recommended this PBS Masterpiece Theatre TV series during the pandemic and I cannot communicate how much it meant to me. Watch it to remember why integrity matters even when the world is in turmoil.
  • Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson / Attachment theory and neuroscience combined with Scripture, this book makes the case that integrating the right and left sides of the brain leads to a truer, more whole life. Absolutely compelling.
  • Divine Conspiracy and Hearing God, both by Dallas Willard / In response to a mention of Curt Thompson, a friend mentioned Dallas Willard, and… my life will never be the same. I loved these books. I love Dallas Willard. My relationships with God and other people are being shaped by what I’ve read here.
Of course there’s more! But these are highlights. Is this still a food blog? Does it need to be a food blog? I don’t know. For now, though, it’s nice to I’m happy to have another place to enjoy.