Weekend Review: Scapegoats, Nuns, and the Kind Freemans

Another week of 2016, burned to the ground. Burn baby, burn! But before we sweep out the ashes and start the whole shebang over again (Sunday is coming), let's take recap this week's good links.

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BOOKS

I've been finishing up Sunil Yapa's book, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. Set in the World Trade Organization riots of 1999, Your Heart moves with a staccato pace, and explores the relationships on both sides of the teargas. If you're a fan of fiction, of social justice, and of well-written stories, you won't want to miss Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. Trust me. (Rated R for language and violent content.)

LINKS

What's with all this talk of Trump winning over the Christians? According to Ross Douthat, "Trump is losing the most active believers, but he’s winning in what I’ve previously termed the 'Christian penumbra' — the areas of American society (parts of the South very much included) where active religiosity has weakened, but a Christian-ish residue remains."

Do you know Emily Freeman? She's one of the good ones, a writer bent toward creating space for your soul to breathe. And in this season of political turmoil, she's teaching us how to pray for kindness.

What happens when one drunk-driving, illegal immigrant slams into a car full of nuns, killing one? Don't miss this piece at Mockingbird about scapegoating, nuns, and the power of forgiveness.

Who wants to learn better writing habits? Check out these 10 writing tips from original "Mad Man," David Oglivy. As always, Brain Pickings supplies the goods.

INSTAGRAM

MUSIC

This is beautiful in every way.

Thanks for reading along. I'll see you next week!

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Weekend Review: Trump's Culture of Violence and Startup Comeuppance

Welcome to the weekend, the knockoff play days that bookend responsibility. (How I wish this were true.) Amber is away for the weekend, and I'm flying in-solo-parentis for a couple of days. I suspect the boys and I will clean the garage, shoot some hoops, perhaps build a fort in the muddy woods. Maybe we'll catch a movie, grab some pizza and root bear. I'll find a book before the day is over. Maybe we'll shoot a bottle rocket.

Life is a mix of responsibility and frivolity; isn't it?

But before I get my weekend started, I offer you this skinny-minute respite. Grab a cup of joe and catch up on some of the week's happenings. Fair warning: for those of you not politically inclined, or those of you who like Donald J. Trump, consider skipping the first segment in this week's review.

POLITICS

Last night, Chicago canceled Donald Trump's rally scheduled for 6:00 pm at the Chicago Pavillon. Fearing the mass of protestors who'd gathered to voice their displeasure with Trump's antics, the city  did the right thing, nixed the event. Perhaps you've not taken note, but Trump's rallies have become increasingly violent over the last several weeks. How did we get here?

But despite his harsh rhetoric and violent overtones, did you know that Donald J. Trump is the only 2016 Presidential candidate to be nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize? These are the things that boggle the mind. I'm not political scientist, but this is insane.

NON-POLITICAL LINKS

Perhaps you work in a cool, post-industrial, neo-cubicular creative space with hammocks and slides. Maybe you have a ball pit in your office, or a trampoline. Good for you. But do you have a Pac-Man themed conference space? In this hilarious piece, Fast Company gives cheesy startup office design their comeuppance.

John Ray--friend, godfather to my sons, and cycler extraordinaire--writes a weekly column on bike commuting in the Ozarks. I think you'll enjoy his words, especially this piece on his attempts to outrun grief.

INSTAGRAM

I visited Charleston, South Carolina last weekend. There, I say this perfectly normal reindeer playing a hang drum.

A video posted by Seth Haines (@sethhaines) on

FROM THE BLOG

In my Recovery Room series, Heather Caliri offered her confession, wrote about using the Bible as an instrument of self-harm. This piece is weighty, sobering, and necessary. Please don't miss it.

MUSIC

Thanks for reading along. I hope to see you next week. Until then, check out this piece by Noah Gunderson and David Ramirez. Enjoy.

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Weekend Review: Paper Cuts and Sonnets

Amber is away doing girl things at a girl conference is a city packed with girls. I'm sure there are tears, and tea, tremulous prayers being lifted to heaven in that city that shall not be named, but in this neck of the woods, the four boys and I are all about pizza, root beer, and bodily-function jokes. At the end of the day, I'm still a boy. We have a great big day planned, one including shooting hoops and cleaning out the mini-van. (At the end of the day, I'm still a boy, that's married to a girl, that drives a mini-van to the supermarket.) But before we roll up our sleeves and get after it, let's waste a little time.

What do you say?

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If this isn't a seed of hope, nothing is. Do not miss this video about Ward College in Chicago, a community college designed to help those who "want to trade in their guns for pens."

There's a lot of talk about forgiveness these days, especially the forgiveness of self. But what about the concept of absolution? Don't miss this piece for Mockingbird, in which Adam Morton writes:

"This is a nation full of Christian people who believe that God forgives, but have rarely if ever heard the words, 'Your sins are forgiven' directed to them. Forgiveness has become a concept, often associated with Jesus, but not a word spoken with the tongue or heard with the ear. If forgiveness is an act, it is strictly an internal one,  a movement of the will or emotions. I ask my therapist how I can forgive someone who has harmed me, but by this I do not mean actually absolving them with my words. I mean, 'How can I feel okay about the past?'"

"Parth Kothekar is a paper-cut artist from Ahmedabad, India." Intrigued? You should be. This paper-cut art is so delicate, you won't believe your eyes.

Is your bio a bit bland? Does it need a little spice? Use this Designer Bio Generator to spruce it up a bit. Does it generate anything true? Nope. Is it funny? Here's mine; you decide:

"Skier, ramen eater, DJ, reclaimed wood collector and HTML5 Guru. Making at the junction of modernism and programing to craft an inspiring, compelling and authentic brand narrative. Let's chat."

I love Malcolm Guite, and you should, too. We're days away from Ash Wednesday. Lent is upon us. Before we enter this penitential season, though, allow Guite to give you a glimpse of light.

Finally, don't miss my Tuesday Reflection from this week, in which I ask the question, "...without pain, would you know the locus of your weakness?

Thanks for reading along. Let's let Luke and Old Ben take us out with their rendition of "The Bushes of Love."

***TINY LETTER***

CC Austin OuttakesThanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. If you sign up, you'll receive my free eBook, Coming Clean|Austin Outtakes. The Outtakes share the story behind my latest release from Zondervan, Coming Clean|A Story of Faith.

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Weekend Review: Opdiggy and the Amazing Broadway Rat

It's been a good week in these parts. I snuck a mini-vacation with Amber (what a gem I've married) sans kids, which is to say there were a few days of much-needed quiet. We walked on a beach, ate a few good meals with a few far-away friends, talked, and unwound. I shopped for sneakers--something I never feel the freedom to do--drove a coastal highway, and ate a faux-schmancy French meal in an airport. We laughed on occasion, annoyed each other on occasion, held hands on occasion.

There's nothing I like more than spending time with my best friend. I mean it.

We're back to the grind now, and I can feel the todo list lengthening. But before I start checking boxes and knocking things off that list, I'm catching up on a few of my favorite things from this week. Take a look.

Music:

I'm flipping the script a little today, giving you my music pick first. Why? It's the soundtrack of the day. Play it while you read along. (Thanks for the tunes, DJ Opdiggy.)

Books:

Are you operating at your highest and best level of contribution? This is the fundamental question of Greg McKeown's book Essentialism. It's a book that has me asking the question, "am I overreaching, tending to too many nonessential things?" It's a book of focus, of clarification.

Here's the truth: I do not like productivity books. Here's the other truth: this book might be changing my entire outlook on productivity. You need it. Trust me.

Essentialism

Links:

Did you keep up with this week's news? Informed brains are creative brains, or so the saying goes. See how informed you are by taking this Fast Company quiz. (For the record, I failed.)

Do you remember Zack Morris's amazing knack for productivity? Attending classes, flirting with Kelly Kapowski, selling potatoes on margin via a cell phone the size of a shoe--he was always multitasking. And perhaps you were just as productive in your high school days. Let's harken back; shall we? This week, 99u gives you some practical productivity advice in "How To Be As Productive As Your High School Self."

Do you follow Cool Hunting? It's a new favorite of mine. Check out their weekly review, wherein they share the story of the unlikely rat who made it on Broadway.

Podcast:

This week, I was graced with the opportunity to join Anne Bogel's podcast "What Should I Read Next." We discussed my favorite novels, my hatiest hate (of all time, ever), and what books I should read next. Let me be clear: this is one of the most fun things I've done in quite some time. Take a listen.

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I hope you've enjoyed this week's selections. Stop in next week as we continue the Tuesday Reflection series, and hear from a special guest who's jumping into the Recovery Room.

***TINY LETTER***

CC Austin OuttakesThanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. If you sign up, you'll receive my free eBook, Coming Clean|Austin Outtakes. The Outtakes share the story behind my latest release from Zondervan, Coming Clean|A Story of Faith.

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Weekend Review: Li'l Donald, Essentialism, and the Need for Me Too

We've survived another week. Ain't it grand?

Amber and I are packing our bags, hopping a plane to [insert undisclosed destination] sans kids. We've not been alone together in what seems like years, and I'm looking forward to this little retreat.

The kids? Don't worry. We're leaving bologna in the fridge, and have instructed them to make sure to go to bed by 10:00 every night. They'll be fine.

How about you? Do you have some big plans on the weekend horizon? Before you get to them, do you need a little distraction? Say no more; I'm here to help.

Check out this week's book, podcast, and link recommendations.

Books:

I love books. If someone offered me a job wherein I holed up in a spartan room with a floor lamp and a tea kettle, and was tasked with reading and reviewing a few thousand books, I'd take it--no questions asked.

I'm reading a few good books these days (mostly fiction), but allow me to make this recommendation: Essentialism. It might be the second most important book in my life at the current juncture. Buy it now; ask questions later.

Podcasts:

This week, I had the pleasure of joining Modern Miss Darcy on her book Podcast. My appearance won't be published until next week, but in the meantime, get caught up on her show, "What Should I Read Next?"

Links:

Did you know that Charlottesville, Virginia was ranked as the happiest city in America? But how did the surveyors quantify "happy," and what does that mean for the people of Charlottesville? As Will McDavid observes in his piece for Mockingbird,

"if you live somewhere where you should be happy or where everyone else around you is happy, you’re more likely to delude yourself into perceiving your level of happiness as higher than it actually is."

Bill Flanagan of The New Yorker stretches his imagination, writes a scene straight from Donald Trump's elementary classroom.

“You want ME to tell the class? Excuse me—aren’t you supposed to be the teacher? I think we can all agree that, if anyone around here is going to tell the class the square root of a hundred and forty-four, you should be the one to do it. If you even know the square root of a hundred and forty-four—which, frankly, I have my doubts.”

Peter Englert offered a review of Coming Clean this week, and I appreciated this thought:

I wonder if we need to hear more stories. Not for advice, but to experience the “me too” of life. Debunking the lie of isolation falls flat when we encounter someone in a similar situation.

People ask why I write, why I freelance, or craft books, or spend hours on a letter to a friend. Andrea Tsurumi puts it best in this interview with 99u.

But remember the bit about it being a labor of love? I know I love this. I don’t know if that’s enough to build a thriving and lasting career on, but it’s definitely something to build a life on.

Video:

Watch this. You won't be sorry.

***TINY LETTER***

CC Austin OuttakesThanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. If you sign up, you'll receive my free eBook, Coming Clean|Austin Outtakes. The Outtakes share the story behind my latest release from Zondervan, Coming Clean|A Story of Faith.

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