Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Worker, the Warrior and the Gaps in Me

All this "grunt-grunt-manly-fish-and-hike-and-shoot" writing of John Eldridges sort of pisses me off. (For those of you who have no connection to the USAmerican Christian subculture and don't know this author, my apologies. You might want to check him out). The writing often seems one-dimensional, over-simplified and ignorant of or damaging to women. It paints a picture of manhood and life that feels like it owes too much to western romanticism and the military. It rankles my anabaptist roots. It drives the wedge between the genders deeper by confirming stereotypes and painting women as passive, men as active.

That being said, one of his books is currently being both helpful and challenging to me. (Go figure). In "the Way of the Wild Heart" Eldridge describes overarching metaphors/cycles/stages of a man's life -- beloved child, cowboy/robin hood, warrior, king, sage.

His idea is that something different is formed in us during each phase, that we often miss out on some or most of the process depending on our situation, but that God is at work giving us opportunities to return to those phases in small ways to be formed in ways we missed out on the first time (as a beloved son, an adventurer, a wise ruler, etc).

I'm recognizing gaps in me, as well as becoming grateful for the opportunities and gifts I've been given by parents, friends and mentors. My life is sort of like Eldridges' writing -- frustrating, beautiful, challenging, helpful and incomplete.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Not Working and Sabbaticals: Unproductive or Fallow?

A friend recently blogged his thoughts about sabbatical, productivity and God's "wilderness curriculum." I like what he says. Search for "Unproductive... Or Fallow" May 27, 2010 entry on

For a more general, less spiritual/religious, more populist and organizational take on the subject, try

Taking a musical sabbatical has been one of the best things I've done for my music in the last 21 years. I've also watched a number of people take sabbaticals (as part of my connection to a non-profit that does a lot of transition and sabbatical work) and it continues to stun me what happens when people actually slow down and unplug. I wonder if 50 years from now we'll see the busyness of this era as a form of slavery or disease that was so rampant and systematized that most of us just didn't see it...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tiny House Thoughts

I grew up moving between Indiana, Ohio and several third world countries. Outside of the US it was common to build a house for under $30K and consider it a more than adequate solution to living needs.

Things are more complicated and expensive in the states, yes. But does it really have to be this way?

Tiny houses are one alternative. There are great architects designing these things, and a movement of people that value them because of the ecological implications of living smaller. I like the idea of having less stuff to deal with. I like the gadgets that allow a person to live in 100 square feet of space. Oh, and I like the idea that your heating bill could be under $100 -- for the whole winter!

You could have the whole thing built and paid for for under $40K. Of course there's a lot of things you wouldn't have and people in your neighborhood would think you're weird.

So there you go. You got a blog on shoes once, now tiny houses. Bet you can't wait for the next curve ball on this art/community/spirituality blog.

If you want to know more google "Tiny House Movement." Be sure to take a couple virtual tours.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Stone and blood
Strength and stares
Weight and water

Friday, June 4, 2010

Money, Debt and Houses

In regards to debt and money, I wrestle a bit with feeling hopeless and kind of like a victim of my background and past choices. Funny -- I don't usually think of that being a struggle for me. Beyond that I have a great background and better mentors than most people I know, and our debts are not large by US averages.

I think part of it is that I'm coming to terms with reality. I wasn't tracking the fact that even with school loans ("great" loans that they are), we could end up paying twice as much as we borrowed easily. Most people have encountered this grim reality long before now in their lives, but we've gotten a lot of help, have lived pretty simply and have been privileged to not have incurred many debts that would have taught us this before.

I understood the theory before, but looking the debt in the face daily is a little different. Like with anything -- theory and experience, the idea of the thing and the experience of it are profoundly different -- something difficult for a dreamer/starter/futurist (using the last term loosely) like me to remember.

So, out of all this there are two things that are taken for granted in US culture that I don't like and about which I wonder whether things really need to be this way:
1. We think it's normal to pay back twice as much as we borrow.
2. We either expect to rent all our lives or to be paying off a house for most of it.