I read a whole bunch of books. You won’t believe which are my favorites. Number 3 made me laugh

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this year, thanks in no small part to Audible and Overdrive, which let me read while I am commuting, cooking, and working out at the gym.  So far, I have 46 titles accounted in my Goodreads account, and I am 171 days ahead of my annual reading goal. Granted, at least 10 of those are graphic novels (I had a mild Flash obsession going there for a bit.).

Here are some of my favorites so far this year, in no particular order.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store  by Robin Sloan – If you love quirky mysteries, Google, Helvetica, awkward protagonists, or glow-in-the-dark dust covers, this is the book for you.

The Stand by Stephen King – The forces of good and evil gather in a post-apocalyptic show down. This was the second of three books in a row that I read that start with a virulent pandemic.  That was not on purpose, and it stressed me out. I could not be an epidemiologist.

The Martian by Andy Weir – Fantastic science fiction.  There’s a movie coming out later this year.  I bought a second copy for my Mars themed bathroom.  XKCD described it thusly :

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman – This was the story of the first few years of my career at Ford Motor Company.  It was interesting getting the behind the scenes look at some of the things that happened.  It is also a fantastically well written book if you are interested in the auto industry in general.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – I don’t rightly know how to describe this book.  Gaiman writes books that demand to be read but elude description of why you should read them. I put this one off for a long while, but I picked it up and couldn’t put it down.

What have you read and loved so far this year?

Sheep and Goats

I’ve been preparing a lesson for my Primary class, and the text pulled together a lot of the tumultuous feelings I’ve had over the last few weeks and set them to rest.

The lesson is the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46). In the end, the Lord says at his coming, the nations will be divided Sheep to the Right hand, Goats to the left hand.

What got to me was the sorting criteria. There was only one.

On the right hand – those who were kind to others, those who fed the hungry, those who visited the sick. In other words, those who upheld the baptismal covenant to “stand with those who stand in need of comfort, to mourn with those that mourn.”

On the left – those who did not.

There was no talk of any other commandment. No other set of rules, no other set of things to do or do not.

Just to love, to stand with, to uphold the least of those among us. That’s what sets the sheep on the right from the goats on the left.

This has long been the bedrock of my personal faith. In the end, I don’t know a lot of things, but I know that what it takes from me is an added measure of kindness, an extra dose of empathy. That’s what I hang my gospel hopes on, and I’m hoping that my fellow Latter-day Saints do the same this day and always.

Grant Me Sanctuary

Grant Me Sanctuary

Beneath the grim exterior
Under the erst facade
Xanadu! Xanadu! the hidden, the missing, the lost!
Kings and Queens no longer
Tho’ my sanctuary has disappeared
Pater Zeus can see its repose
Kindly hear my cries–
Zeus, pater! Hera, mother!
Allow my tears their meaning

Precious time has passed away
Since walls began to fall
Persephone’s muted cries fill my broken heart
In retrospect, the pomegranate was not sweet at all
Summer sun and winter chill
Damning seeds, forbidden fruit, widens the gulf…
Xanadu, no longer, thy walls I cannot see.

Spring was here. The world rejoiced.
September’s setting sun brought Demeter’s stinging tears
Alone once more, both she and I,
Find even the nectar, sweet nectar of the gods, bitter.
Vinegar and gall, Ambrosia without taste
Vinegar and gall do not bring solace

Sanctuary, Xanadu, so very far away

Just over that high mountain…
Toward the brightest star…

Orpheus, with enchanting song, was given one last chance
Just don’t look back, Just follow me,
‘Til lost again is found
Music almost won her passage home,
Lost one more for looking back

Apollo, who sees it all, from your chariot on high
Help me find my missing walls, the lonely Xanadu
Lead me back to my abandoned gem
Guide my feet, O great Apollo
Forsake not the lost and vanished peacefulness!

Do not leave my soul melancholic,
Naked, exposed to the morning’s innuendo.
Discover the place, O mighty gods, to my view.

— Brady Emmett – October 2005

I remembered this poem a few weeks back and wanted to make sure I don’t lose it, so I am including it here on my blog. Because blogs are forever. Right?  I originally wrote it for a contest on the puzzle solving website Tweleve.org.  There are mysteries here. 😀

A Constantly Renewed Stream

This is the text of a talk I gave in my ward (Ann Arbor 2nd) on February 15, 2015.

I would like to explore one of the concepts from President Eyring’s October talk on the subject of continuing revelation [1], and share with you some of my experiences as I have sought revelation.

President Eyring said “We need revelation from God. And we will need not just one revelation in a time of stress, but we need a constantly renewed stream. We need not just one flash of light and comfort, but we need the continuing blessing of communication with God.” [2]

Today, I would like to focus on that concept of a “constantly renewed stream” of revelation. Continue reading