Weekend Reading: August 11, 2018

Welcome to the weekend!  I’ve taken a few weeks off since welcoming the birth of our baby girl, Penny.  I haven’t stopped reading, however, and have a few recommendations for you.  I mainly want to focus on books today, since its been a while since I wrote about what I’ve been reading.

I just finished Healthy Plurality = Durable Church which is a book by my friend Dave Harvey.  It is a short, but helpful dive into the a subject that is pretty specialized, and likely not something a wide audience has given much consideration. Thoughtfulness and circumspection are the watchwords of this latest book by Dave. Largely based on a combination of decades of personal experience, and faithful biblical interpretation, this short volume will cause you to think about how a church is ought to be managed, and the difference between poor management and godly management. If you’re a Christian, and especially if you’re in church leadership, this would be a very handy and thought-provoking book to get a hold of.

The War of the Worlds. This was a fascinating, well written, and finely detailed story. Wells’ classic sci-fi thriller is worth the read for anyone interested in good literature, and a classic well-told story. Humanity is under attack by invaders from Mars. The sudden attack has mankind reeling, and their reactions are predictable, yet wide ranging. My one complaint about the book has nothing to do with Wells, but rather with Amazon’s Audible recording of the book, which was muffled at times, and really not great quality. This is unfortunate because the man reading the book was obviously talented, and had a very interesting voice. After several different speakers and headphones, I gave up on any clarity. In fact, I had to “rewind” the book several times to catch what the narrator said.

It took me a little while, but I finally finished Clowney’s The Unfolding Mystery, which is a very rich book full of Old Testament links to the coming of Jesus Christ. If you’ve never explored this kind of book, it would be a great way to begin. Clowney is a well-regarded pillar of the 20th century evangelical theological community, and knows how to write. The book isn’t extremely long – probably only 260 or so pages – but its very powerful.  The kindle edition includes many very thought-provoking study questions at the end of each chapter that I found one of the great gems of the book. This isn’t a book you whiz through and lay aside in forgetfulness. It’s a book you read, re-read, and then pickup again and again for those beautiful turns of phrases and insights that only skilled authors bring to the table.

My family just finished listening to one of the first Sherlock Holmes narratives, A Study in Scarlet.  It is one my my favorites because of how vast and wide-ranging the scenery and characters are.  It is, perhaps, atypical for a Holmes story because of this, but also it is one of his longer narratives, and it makes one wonder why Conan Doyle didn’t write many more of this (or greater) length because this is where his powers of story telling can really be seen and enjoyed. If you’ve never read a Sherlock Holmes mystery, this would be a good one to try.

Last week I finished Michael Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery.  This one I listened to (the Michael Kitchen performance) rather than reading the hard copy or kindle edition. This was my first time experiencing a Crichton book, and I have really mixed feelings about how it was put together. Crichton is basing his novel off a true historical event, and spend a great deal of time explaining the historical nuances of Victorian England throughout the book. This is so much the case that I’d wager fully 40% of the narrative is clogged with little historical factoids. And this is just where I have mixed emotions. I really enjoyed the history lessons, and I could even see how the criminal slang would have needed deciphering, but the result was a narrative that move awfully slow. SOOO SLOW.  At the end of the book, I had to recompile the sequence of events in my mind, trying to sift through all the added fluff, and when I did so I realized that it was a very interesting story – if only it had been told in a way that illuminated this fact. Lastly, as much as I enjoy the somewhat choppy meter of Kitchen’s line reading in Foyle’s War, he is highly irritating to listen to during the course of such an extensive narrative. His intonation is such that one things that a matter of fact conclusion is being reached at the end of every statement. Essentially, you felt as though, as long as the book is, it became even longer with the choppy way in which he intoned every graph.

If you’re in for something out of the ordinary, you might want to skim through Blockchain Revolution. This is a 370 page book that needs to be 220 pages.  You only really need to read through half of the book to get the idea of what the authors are getting at, and you only need to read through about 1/4th of the book to be filled in on how the technology works and might affect other aspects of life. If you’re into technology and enjoy futurism-type stuff, this would be an interesting read for you. The authors are a little over-enthusiastic (as the title betrays) – many times I found myself wanting to say “okay guys, settle down.”  They literally think blockchain technology is the best thing since sliced bread.  That said, it could be a very important part of how many industries protect data and privacy.

For several years now I’ve wanted to read Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage, and it did not disappoint. If you’ve read about Nixon or Eisenhower individually, then you know a little about how different they were. They came from different generations, they grew up in different circumstances, and they were just wired differently. Yet these two men were thrown together in a way that forced them to rely on each other politically and career-wise for decades. The most interesting thing from this book is how it soured me on Eisenhower’s personal relational and leadership abilities. He had his own style, to be sure, but its a style that had I had to serve under him, I would likely have despised. Nixon, in turn, seems like the battered wife, unwilling to leave the relationship at first out of political necessity and admiration, but feeling more and more stifled and frustrated by the slights and passive-aggressive comments to the press.  It’s a strange thing to read about, but very interesting and insightful because it tells a part of each man that may not be very familiar to most people.

If you have a slow Saturday or Sunday in the near future, and feel anxious and on edge about your life or things swirling around in your life, then I would highly recommend Thomas Watson’s classic The Art of Divine Contentment. I read this entire book on a recent Saturday, and felt it was a fantastic reset to my thinking about priorities, life, work, and others. Watson’s style is a like many puritans, didactic and inquisitive – with every question preceding a thoughtful answer. But the probing nature of the questions he asks almost don’t require an answer because at their comprehension there is recognition of how far out of line our perspectives can wander if not checked. Watson wants to have us realign our perspectives according to Biblical principles, and a reality that isn’t so self-centered. This isn’t a guilt trip, or a fiery sermonizing, but a lovingly strong and often cutting series of points and questions designed to bring us back to reality in a way that causes us to enjoy and be thankful for what we have.

Speaking of classics, I got to read The Scarlet Pimpernel for the first time recently, and really enjoyed it. Honestly I didn’t know what I was getting into here. I had purchased the book with a bunch of others, knowing it was a classic and that I ought to read it. What a pleasant surprise! This is simply a great story, and were it not for the unfortunate name of the book, I’d think it would have been made into a more modern movie. The plot is set during the French Revolution, and several plot twists, along with good literary tension, make this book worth checking out.

I have enjoyed the writing of Tony Reinke in years past, and so I had planned on reading 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You for quite some time. He certainly had some good insights and questions to ask ourselves. Some of his insights were historical and interesting, and worth contemplating. I think Reinke is a good one to write a book like this because he’s not a technophobe by any means, and yet he has a perspective that is very grounded in Christian principle and Biblical theology. His approach was certainly humble, and it was good enough that my first listen through the book might need to be accompanied by a second listen along with the hardcover and a highlighter.

Is it worth even mentioning the latest Grisham I’ve read?  Grisham novels are sort of like chocolate at the end of a day, they aren’t necessary, but they’re nice anyway. I read his 2011 book The Litigators, and definitely laughed a lot more than I would usually laugh at a Grisham. It was probably one of his better attempts at writing and wit, and yet it wasn’t terribly interesting from a plot perspective. Not one I’d recommend to someone aching for a great story, but one I’d recommend to someone looking for an enjoyable page turner with no value other than to relax the mind and bring out a chuckle or two.

Finally, I wanted to write about Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis. This book was really phenomenal.  I’ve been made aware of some snarky comments online by reviewers who say Ellis’ writing style is way too highbrow and hard to comprehend. But I beg to differ.  In fact, I mentioned to my mom that writing in any lesser style with a smaller vocabulary would be too blunt of an instrument for the topic.  One of the things that makes Ellis so good is his suspicion of veneration.  He is able to get at the interactions between these men in a way that I’ve only seen from Ron Chernow to date. And he’s the first person who made me think that perhaps Hamilton wasn’t the spawn of Satan (a magnificent literary feat). Most importantly, he has some wonderful insights into Jefferson, which has led to me put his larger work on that man (American Sphinx) on my list of to-read.

That’s it for now!  I hope you took some good ideas away from this recently list of completed books, and that if you read any of these that you’ll please send along your thoughts!

PS – if you have never read The Religious Affections, you should jump on over to ChristianAudio.com and download the free audio version performed by Simon Vance.  This book by American theologian Jonathan Edwards is one of the most important books I’ve ever read.

Have a great weekend!



Weekend Reading: July 21, 2018

Good (rainy) morning from Columbus Ohio. Congratulations to Pastor Brad and Courtney Snyder on the birth of baby Deacon.  Both Courtney and my wife Kate were due on the same day (the 31st), but apparently Deacon is more competitive than our baby girl, because we’re still just waiting here for her to arrive! Well played Deacon, well played. Now on to a few notable stories from the last week or two.

First, I’m wrapping up the book ‘Empty Mansions’ which is about the family and money and – you guessed it – mansions, of W.A. Clark.  Recommended to me by our friend Dave Becksvoort, I congratulate him on the recommendation.  Honestly, I don’t know what to make of the story, which mostly revolves around Huguette Clark, the daughter of W.A.  She was a recluse and many of the homes and things she purchased she never saw in person or stepped foot in.  Very strange story, but fascinating because W.A. Clark was on par with Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt when it came to fortune and influence in his day – yet many have never heard of this man. I think the biggest reason for this might be due to the family’s (read Huguette) lack of charitable giving.  Lot’s of questions about legacy and stewardship arise in this book.

One of the beautiful things Huguette Clark owned was a Stradivarius violin. Reading more about them led me to this short video you might find enjoyable.

Recently, my friend Aaron employed an hilarious theological litmus test by asking me “what do you think about Andy Stanley?” The audible “humph” I gave set him to laughing and admitting to his secret test.  So its no surprise, though with sadness, that I continue to keep an eye on the once very helpful teacher of the Bible whose sense of orthodoxy has long since faded into the background of his own bright personality. Here’s a recap/response to Stanley’s latest concerning teaching issues.

This falls into the category of “did I post this before???”  Thomas Brewer over at Ligonier has written up a rather concise (and, I must say rather accurate) book review of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules book.  Even if I posted this already, its worth posting again.

I know you’re all wondering if I will post anything on the Trump/Putin summit (because I’ve gotten your texts).  But you’ve likely read enough about it to know the situation and the details for yourself without me posting a million articles discussing it.  I took my time on really evaluating the situation here and wasn’t quick to condemn the President because it was such an unusual situation, and because I have grown tired of the constant polemic stream against him. Not everything the man does is horrid and evil – nor is everything deft and brilliant – as apologists from both sides would have us believe. Sometimes I think though, that his own actions do swing back and forth between brilliant and completely obtuse.

My thoughts on the matter are that his NATO dealings and his trip through Europe was carried off well. NATO nations can’t expect us to foot the bill for protecting them against aggressors they’re making pipeline deals with!  As for Russia, Trump’s comments were distasteful, and reminiscent of the stomach turning apology tour that Obama conducted during the 2008 campaign. The difference between Obama’s anti-Americanism on that trip and what Trump did in Finland was that Obama’s comments came from ideological/worldview musings and deeply held beliefs – nothing he had experienced first-hand, per se. It was merely his liberal worldview shining through in apologetic prose. Trump, however, threw his own government under the bus, criticizing the man appointed to investigate the 2016 campaign who had JUST indicted 12 Russians for clear meddling in said campaign.  In so doing, he not only made himself look petty, small and weak, but he basically sided with Russia and its dictator over the justice system of the United States.

Why is this so revolting?  Because he was siding with a man (Putin) who kills dissidents and political opponents, over the officials of the United States judicial system.  Despite what you think about the Mueller probe (and I think its way too long in the tooth at this point), the officials involved have enough evidence to clearly show that Russians were working to influence our elections. They hacked into the computer systems of the national Democratic party organization. How is that not considered an act of war?  In past centuries the country who interfered in this way would have seen their cities burning by now.  One of the things that sets apart America is our system of justice. This is  a system that is the envy of the world, and has been for over 200 years – especially for those living under tyranny of the Russian fist. In Russia there is no due process, there are no inalienable rights, there is no transparency.  You’re starting to see why this is so upsetting, right? To have our President side with a Russian dictator (who is a former KGB agent) in this matter is atrocious. His denials and claims to misspeaking are ludicrous and laughable, and his attempts to do so and not clearly apologize or set the record straight expose a major character flaw.

I’m not sure if I’m more disgusted by Trump’s statements, or the 5 emails I got from failed political opportunist John Kasich trying to raise money off Trump’s misstep.  I wonder how much money consultant John Weaver is going to make off Kasich before he leaches off someone else. He has completely ruined the Kasich brand, and scuttled any chance the man had for a political future.

One final aside/article on this matter that you need to read: Trump on Putin: The U.S. President’s Views, In His Own Words

In other news…CBS Reporter Accidentally Witnesses Illegal Border Crossing, Gets Threatened.  Sort of fascinating to see this.

From Bloomberg: How Goldman Sachs Lost the World Cup

I thought this was sort of written tongue-in-cheek, so what does it say about me that I thought it was a really cool concept? Maybe that I’ve done several cross-country road trips and see some real value here! From the WSJ: The Great American Road Trip Goes Luxe—For Better or Worse

This really concerns me…from Jason Riley: Let’s Talk About the Black Abortion Rate. Excerpt:

When you combine the amount of black violent behavior directed at other blacks with the number of pregnancies terminated by black women, the rate at which blacks willingly end the lives of one another is chilling and far surpasses what goes on within other racial and ethnic groups. Racial disparities in abortion rates are no less disturbing than racial disparities in income, crime, poverty and school suspensions. Why are the people who want to lecture the rest of us about the value of black lives pretending otherwise?

And finally, this week Babylon Bee hilariously mocked the often trotted out liberal trope about “being on the wrong side of history” with this gem: Eternal God Concerned He Might Be On Wrong Side Of History. 

I’m working through De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America still, and the book Blockchain Revolution as well as Clowney’s Unfolding Mystery.  I think that very soon I’ll be piling on a bunch of others, but this is where things stand.

Have a great weekend!


Weekend Reading: June 30, 2018

So here we are at another 4th of July weekend!  This one is odd because the actual holiday is right in the middle of the week. I hear some friends saying they’re taking the whole week off, and others saying they’ll do Mon-Wednesday or some other combination.  Whatever your plans are, I hope you enjoy them and appreciate the blessings of living in America!

I have a lot of stories and books for you to enjoy as you kick back and enjoy some down time…

In the past week or two, the Supreme Court has ruled in a conservative way on multiple items – including a major victory against public sector unions.  The ruling means that workers won’t have to contribute the the political agenda of the union bosses in DC if they don’t want to. In an argument that has gotten more than stale, one Democrat Congressman said, The Supreme Court ‘just came down on the wrong side of history.’”  That is an invalid and extremely arrogant argument based upon an assumption that events ought to unfold according to a progression leftists (or anyone else using that phrase) envision.  If you put it another way, its like saying “hey this isn’t fair, this isn’t how its supposed to go in 2018!”  Says who?

Of course the real concern is always money.  Unions form a major part of the financial foundation of the left’s election and issue campaigning. For an example check this out: Unions give $1.3 billion to Democrats, liberal groups since 2010

Despite these major decisions (I didn’t even get into the big one on religious liberty), the biggest impact on both the news cycle and history, was the announcement by Justice Kennedy that he’ll be retiring.   David French over at National Review gives some insight on what we might expect from future court decisions based on a more originalist bent.

Staying on politics here for a bit, the New York Times had a story that was really interesting this week titled ‘As Critics Assail Trump, His Supporters Dig in Deeper’ – this is worth taking a peak at.

Keep an eye on this developing problem: The Army Took Over the Spigots, Forcing Thirsty Venezuelans to Pay.  The reason I post this is that I want to draw people’s attention to the humanitarian problem, but also the philosophical problem here and how it became this bad. I’ve heard from leaders in Venezuela recently, and spoken to people from the country, and I can tell you that these problems don’t simply happen randomly.  They happen as a result of a failed political philosophy – that philosophy is socialism.  Socialism leads to economic tyranny. We have seen this again and again over the last 100 years, and what bothers me now is just how ignorant the younger generation of Americans are about the evils (and I mean that) of socialism. The disconnect was never more apparent than this past Tuesday when Democrats voted for a young socialist for Congress, unseating one of the most powerful Democrat Congressmen in the country. This is hardly surprising, given the dangerously naive way in which we’ve allowed our children to be educated under the modern rubric of “liberal arts”, a term and philosophy now completely hijacked.  What will be the wake up call for Americans in the United States? It’s evident that they aren’t paying attention to their South American brothers and sisters, because if they were, they’d run from socialism like a Russian political prisoner fleeing the gulags.

I have often been critical of Jordan Peterson because of just how dangerous his influence can be upon those seeking answers to life’s ultimate questions.  But…there are some very good things that Peterson has done, and one example came this week when he was asked to comment on the Justin Trudeau.  It’s worth watching for a few reasons, the content of his answer being uppermost, but for me the thing to watch here is his thoughtfulness. Look at how long he takes to get his thoughts right, and how careful he is with his answer.  If our politicians were more cautious and gracious in their speaking, they would be less misunderstood, and have a greater impact. Here is a sterling example of how to respond to a loaded question in a thoughtful and respectful way.  Of course the irony is that its posted on The Daily Wire whose headline is ‘Jordan Peterson Takes on Justin Trudeau’ – they do their dead level best to sensationalize what is really a very thoughtful response.

Interesting insight here for politicos: Billionaire vs. Billionaire: A Tug
of War Between 2 Rogue Donors

One last political article…with all that is going on at the border, I was confused at what the reality of the situation really was.  As a Christian I want people who are made in the image of God to be treated with respect and decency, while also maintaining a respect for the rule of law that keeps societies in order.  My friend Aaron B. sent me this article from Rich Lowry over at National Review that I found helpful in sorting out what is really going on at the border.

This is unsurprising, but worth taking seriously: Deleting Your Online DNA Data Is Brutally Difficult

Quartz had an interesting article breaking down how Overnight Shipping works. Here’s a quick breakdown of the timeline:

5 pm: You drop off a package, which is transported to the nearest cargo-shipping airport.

10 pm: The majority of domestic cargo planes begin taking flight. In the case of FedEx and UPS, the majority of planes fly to a central “superhub” in Tennessee or Kentucky.

1 am: Approximately 150 airplanes have landed at the superhub. Packages are removed and placed in an automated sorting system.

2 am: Packages are sorted, placed into shipping containers, and packed onto a new airplane. The second flight takes off.

6 am: Items arrive at the target airport and are packed onto trucks for delivery. For deliveries to more rural areas, the items are often packed onto prop planes and take a third and final flight.

9 am: Most prop planes arrive at regional airports. Items are shipped via truck.

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting story titled ‘These Stocks Have Left Amazon Behind this Year.  And basically its talking about how Macy’s and Dillard’s have rallied from their very low points after being decimated by Amazon.  Points of discussion here: Will there always be a place for the in-person shopping experience?  How much will Amazon be able to chip away at the brick and mortars once they get their in-person stores setup?

One of my favorite preachers to listen to before he left America was Voddie Baucham.  A few weeks ago blogger Tim Challies posted an interview he did with Baucham from Zambia.

Helpful article from Paul Tripp titled, ‘4 Things Dads Should Teach Their Kids about Money’. I think I may have mentioned before that Tripp’s book ‘Parenting’ was very helpful to me, and that I’d highly recommend it to any parent at any stage of that journey.

Two important stories you need to heed this morning: Man On Deathbed Deeply Regrets Not Spending More Time Arguing On Facebook….and Couple Arrested For Selling “Golden Tickets To Heaven”.  Now that you are armed with that information, you’re sure to have a great Saturday!

This was great, Save the Great American Family Road Trip: These journeys help kids develop critical-thinking skills. Excerpt:

Dad would drive, always. He approached the car only after everything was ready, striding like Mariano Rivera across the outfield at Yankee Stadium. I’d say he got behind the wheel only after everyone was seat-belted, but seat belts back then were like flossing: great if you did it, but nobody checked.

This was really interesting ‘How Much Money Do You Save by Cooking at Home?’  I’m going to spoil it a bit with an excerpt:

We found on average, it is almost five times more expensive to order delivery from a restaurant  than it is to cook at home. And if you’re using a meal kit service as a shortcut to a home cooked meal, it’s a bit more affordable, but still almost three times as expensive as cooking from scratch.

Books…what’s up next…

I’ve been working through Ray Dalio’s ‘Principles’ book as well as ‘Empty Mansions’ – a story about the family of W.A. Clark – and I’m very close to finishing Kirk’s ‘The Conservative Mind’.

I’m just starting De Tocqueville’s ‘Democracy in America” and working my way through Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’.  With the kids I’m reading ‘Snow Treasure’, which is a neat story.

NOTE: Thomas Brewer over at Ligonier did a book review of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules that’s pretty good thus far (I am only half-way through it but want to make sure you get a chance to look it over).

Here’s what’s on-deck:

  • Russell Kirk – Bradley Birzer
  • Get a Grip on Physics – John Gribbin
  • Theistic Evolution – Meyer, Moreland, Shaw, Grudem, Gauger
  • The Case Against Sugar – Gary Taubes
  • The Closing of the American Mind – Allan Bloom
  • Dreamland – Sam Quinones
  • Washington’s Monument – John Steele Gordon
  • China 1945 – Richard Bernstein
  • Llyod-Jones on the Christian Life – Jason Meyer
  • Napoleon – Paul Johnson
  • Is God Anti-Gay? – Sam Allberry
  • The Unfolding Mystery – Edmund Clowney
  • The Miracle of the Kurds – Stephen Mansfield
  • Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman

Of course I might add to that and do stuff in-between.  In the midst of what I mentioned above, I stopped and read ‘In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin’ by Erik Larson (which was very interesting, although not exactly superb prose).  Sometimes its good to stop and read something less informative and more exciting or adventurous. So the list above is more likely a roadmap than a checklist, with speed bumps and detours likely to be interspersed along the way.

That’s it for now – I hope you enjoy your weekend and the upcoming holiday!  If you have book or article recommendations, please send them along!



Weekend Reading: June 16, 2018

Welcome to the Weekend Reading! It’s been a busy several weeks of travel, so I haven’t been writing much.  But I have been reading a lot!  In fact, I’ve helped write a summer reading challenge for my church, and if you’d like to check out what books I’ve recommended, click here.

Let’s get started with books…


I’ve been reading some great books these past few weeks.  I’ve learned a great deal from Russell Kirk’s classic The Conservative Mind and would recommend it to any serious scholar trying to understand the evolution of conservative (and even liberal) thought over the last two hundred years. Much of what Kirk says will fly over the head of non-scholars, but there are nuggets worth their weight and the time it has taken me to work through the 500+ page tome. Let me give you one such nugget from Kirk as he gives some props to Arthur Balfour’s argument against the materialist liberalism of the industrial revolution in which men used “science” as a shield from true thought:

Knowledge, love, and beauty cannot endure in a world that acknowledges only Nature; they have both their roots and their consummation in God, and people who deny God must lose both the definition and the appreciation of knowledge, love, and beauty…men who endeavor to reduce religion to matter-of-fact morality, or elevate science to the estate of a dogmatic creed, have shut their eyes to the sources of wisdom that distinguish civilized men from primitive beings.

Last week I finished The Brothers Karamazov, and it was fascinating. It’s one of those 1000 page classics whose story line isn’t ground-breaking, but is merely a vehicle for the author (Dostoevsky) to convey deep insights into the human character. Certainly this is the case with The Brothers K.  There is a great deal of nuance and insight on a micro-level that few authors are capable of teasing out. There are also some cutting critiques of the Christian church in Dostoevsky’s day, and of its hypocrisy and worldliness, which bare keeping in mind today as well.  Let me give you two examples of Dostoevsky’s insight into the human condition and mind. First, a woman struggling with her faith and pride is told by a priest of a similar instance he once ran into in a man:

I love mankind…but I marvel at myself: the more I love mankind in general, the less I love human beings in particular, separately, that is, as individual persons.

Then, one of the brothers (Ivan) who does not believe in God, is brutally honest when he states, “There is a certain confession I have to make to you…I have never been able to understand how it is possible to love one’s neighbor. In my opinion the people it is impossible to love are precisely those near to one, while one can really love only those who are far away.”   And in a moment of heartbreaking conversation with the faithful Christian brother Alyosha, we read this:

Ivan:  Let me rather remain with my unavenged suffering and unassuaged indignation, even though I am not right. And in any case, harmony has been overestimated in value, we really don’t have the money to pay so much to get in. And so I hasten to return my entry ticket. And if I am at all an honest man, I am obliged to return it as soon as possible. That is what I am doing. It isn’t God I don’t accept, Alyosha, its just his ticket that I most respectfully return to him.

Alyosha:  That is mutiny

Ivan:  Mutiny? I don’t like to hear you say such a word!  One can’t live in a state of mutiny, but I want to live.

During vacation I read Paul Tripp’s book on parenting, which is simply called Parenting – hey, no one ever accused Tripp of being too creative!  But what he lacks in creativity he’s made up in helpfulness. I was humbled, and challenged by this book, and as soon as I finished it I thought “I need to read this every 6 months!”  Unlike previous books I’ve read from Tripp (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands stands out as exhibit A), this book is not overly wordy or longer than necessary. Yes there are some repetitious parts, and yes there are several examples of real life situations – but unlike Instruments in the Redeemers Hand someone has helped Tripp actually edit these to make them flow quickly and to the point. I’d highly recommend this book to parents – and not just to new parents. This is year 12 for us, and it was very helpful.

Kate and I listened to Michael Tougias’ Their Finest Hours – its a story that was recently made into a movie starring Chris Pine. So I thought it would be interesting – and it was definitely interesting!  But Mr. Tougias could have written that short book in about 1/2 the length. It was a very odd combination of thrilling story and extremely boring and incidental historical asides. I’m thinking the movie might actually be better in this case, so I’m looking forward to checking it out.

Also, during some travel I finished up Shelby Foote’s The Beleaguered City: The Vicksburg Campaign.  This is just a short (300 page) excerpt from his massive three-volume series on the Civil War. It was definitely interesting reading, and good writing. I wasn’t entirely satisfied that Foote was writing with the layman in mind, as I often found myself a little lost geographically as the story progressed, but I did enjoy the many anecdotes and character assessments of the men as well as the strategies they employed.  If you read Chernow’s Grant then you may feel like Foote didn’t give a very holistic idea of Grant’s thinking and who he was in this volume, but while he doesn’t break much ground there, he does stay true to what is nominally understood about Grant and the pressures he faced politically and militarily as well as how he succumb to them at times and overcame them in the end…if that makes sense?  It’s hard to explain Grant, I think. So I don’t blame Foote for not elucidating a notoriously opaque character.

During our family trip down to Florida last week, we listened to the first Harry Potter novel as a family. It was very engaging, and enjoyable. The writing was easy for the kids to understand, and while I didn’t feel there were many overt lessons in character or parallels to a greater story, I did think that Harry’s conversation with Dumbledore at the end of the book was very insightful and probably worth the price of admission. The book certainly made the drive fun and kept things lighthearted.  I wouldn’t mind listing to number two. H/T to Rod K. for how strongly he recommended the Jim Dale’s reading – he did not disappoint!


When it comes to political stories, there haven’t been many bigger than the meeting between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim.  It’s way too early to know whether anything good will come of this, which I think Al Mohler summed up well in this edition of the briefing.

Here is the first of three WSJ articles I think warrant some attention…The Disgrace of Comey’s FBI: The damning IG report shows the urgent need to restore public trust.  Key excerpt:

The issue of political bias is almost beside the point. The IG scores Mr. Comey for “ad hoc decisionmaking based on his personal views.” Like Hoover, Mr. Comey believed that he alone could protect the public trust. And like Hoover, this hubris led him to make egregious mistakes of judgment that the IG says “negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”

An interesting study from a few months back that I was just recently able to check out: How to Succeed in Business? Do Less.  Here’s a quote:

The common practice we found among the highest-ranked performers in our study wasn’t at all what we expected. It wasn’t a better ability to organize or delegate. Instead, top performers mastered selectivity.

And in a totally different subject (but also from the Journal), my brother sent me this interesting story, The Gym, for Millennia of Bodies and Souls: Today’s gyms, which depend on our vanity and body envy, are a far cry from what the Greeks envisioned.  Check out how the author ends it:

More than 57 million Americans belong to a health club today, but until local libraries start adding spinning classes and CrossFit, the gym will remain a shadow of the original Greek ideal. We prize our sound bodies, but we aren’t nearly as devoted to developing sound mind and character.

So…I  deleted my Facebook App last week: Your Phone Is Listening and it’s Not Paranoia. And the hits just keep coming: Facebook Gave Data Access to Chinese Firm Flagged by U.S. Intelligence.

This was just hilarious: Woman stopped for driving bumper car on the highway.

This is not an old article from 2007 or anything: Getting Rich on Government-Backed Mortgages.

Tim Challies gives some history on a modern classic: How R.C. Sproul Blessed the Church by Preaching the Curse

I knew it!  Study: Average Father Spends 97% Of Time Running Around House Turning Lights Off

I don’t recall posting this before, but its excellent: The Rise of Corporate Social Responsibility

That’s it for now – enjoy Father’s Day weekend!


Weekend Reading: May 12, 2018

Welcome to another weekend, and another edition of the Weekend Reading. I have a few stories for you before I go enjoy some sunny weather!

This past week or so has been one of the most successful foreign policy weeks for President Trump thus far.  And when you tally up the wins – foreign and domestic – one begins to wonder if there’s been a shift in the political momentum from D to R.  Some of the primary voting turnout numbers in Ohio, for instance, far out-paced the Dem turnout.

Even the libs at Quartz had to begrudgingly acknowledge that maybe Trump knows what he’s doing. When I read that this morning I had to rub my eyes to make sure I was really on the right email!  You see a similar type of thing from the AP here.  Though they couldn’t quite bring themselves to praise Trump.

Some of my friends have noted that I haven’t been afraid to be critical of the President in the past for moral failings, though if you know me well and read me carefully, I think you’ll find most of my fire has been reserved for those evangelicals who, like lemmings, latch onto anyone able to defy the liberals in the media.  That disdain remains. There are a lot of people who refuse to diversify their information intake and consider other opinions outside their own. This is not helpful in a day when news outlets are really just spin factories for one view or another.  My main objective in writing and having conversations with fellow Christians and conservatives on current events, is to get people thinking critically, and carefully about everything they see going on politically.

Some Christians say its not a matter of considering morality per se, but just picking the best of the worst – or the lesser of two evils on the ballot.  Maybe that is so when it comes to elections, but in the time in-between, I think Christians (the church) must shine an unbiased light on leadership while still submitting to, and praying for, that leadership. Thinking critically should lead us to not excuse immorality, but also give praise where its due. On that note, my contention would be that as of right now, if you look at what the President has gotten accomplished policy-wise in his first year and a half, both home and abroad, its pretty impressive. All this despite the constant assailing he takes in the media. Not a small feat.

Which leads to this story: Who is paying Michael Avenatti? from the Hill.  They raise some good questions.

One of the stories that, probably as a political guy, caught my attention recently was on Nancy Pelosi intends on running for Speaker of the House again if the Democrats take over the House in the Fall.  In an interview this week she said the following:

“It’s important that it not be five white guys at the table, no offense,” Pelosi said, referring to the top two leadership spots in the House and Senate and the presidency. “I have no intention of walking away from that table.”

This statement reflects one of the things Jordan Peterson has gotten right about the left in America, which is that they divide people into socioeconomic or gender classes. They have become masters at division instead of seeing everyone as equally made in the image of God.  Outward diversity is supreme at the expense of diversity of thought, or supremacy of character and mind.  I would love to see the next Speaker (from either party) be someone who can unite at least their own party behind a set of ideals, be they economic, social or whatever.  This is usually done better on the Presidential level, but it would be cool have have a Speaker who has that kind of vision and leadership – and, of course, my perspective is it would much better if that person was a conservative.

More critical thinking required here, as Al Mohler discusses a massive survey of college professors across the country, and their political leanings. Here is what I’ve been mulling around in my mind about this: If I’ve worked for 18 years to shape and fashion my child in the best way I can know possible, both morally and from an educational perspective, why would I then send the to be taught by atheist liberals whose worldview is going to skew everything good thing, and magnify every bad thing in science, philosophy, history, art, education, psychology, and on and on. People talk about the cost of colleges, and I sort of begin to wonder at the relevance of colleges (at least in the traditional sense).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in the well-rounded individual. I love the idea of the liberal arts education in the purest sense of the term. But we’re now facing a situation where 1. the economic needs of our country are going to be more diverse than what most colleges today are preparing our kids for, and 2. the worldview being cultivated in said colleges is so dangerous and unhealthy that it promises to unravel the entire social, political, and economic fabric of our country if left unchecked.

Now, I will say that I absolutely thrived in the secular space of the university, where worldviews were messed up, and where professors were so twisted it wasn’t even funny – but I thrived because I was prepared, and because it suited my personality at the time (I used to enjoy conflict much more than I do now).  But for the 95% of students who have very impressionable minds heading into college, it would be an unmitigated disaster. So….I have been thinking about this and really wrestling with where my kids will go for that next level(s) of education. These stories really bring home the importance of finding a good spot, and not settling for whatever state college happens to be offering the best scholarship….


Chamberlain-like snakes in the grass: Kerry is quietly seeking to salvage Iran deal he helped craft

New Topics…

I have been doing a lot of WWII studying this year, and a friend sent me this excellent video about those who died during the war, and how the death toll stacks up historically.

This promises to fascinate anyone who enjoys data and metrics: Cambridge Analytica: how did it turn clicks into votes?

This was good: The Reality of Disappointment

Also this: How to Pray about What You Say (Jon Bloom)

That’s all I have time for right now!  From a book standpoint, I’m in the middle of several large books that are really keeping my count down haha!  ALMOST done with Shirer’s book on the rise and fall of the third reich. It’s absolutely terrifying, and very good. It’s also like 1200 pages, so its taking some time. I’m about half way done with Russell Kirk’s ‘The Conservative Mind’, which has been very interesting and refreshing.  And I’ve just launched into the first 60 pages of the Brothers Karamazov. Last night, I fell asleep reading Paul Tripp’s new parenting book, which has been full of gems, and the other night I passed the 50% marker on Jonathan Leeman’s important new book ‘How the Nations Rage’ – a work that I will be writing about here in more depth in the near future because of how insightful it is.

So I’m way behind in my goal of getting to 200 books by the end of the year.  Probably only at 50 or 60 right now.  But in the summer that count will pickup once I dispatch of Shirer and Kirk.  More reviews to come!

Have a great day/weekend, and remember the gospel today – as Peter says, “…Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” – let’s live in light of that truth today.



Weekend Reading: April 28, 2018

Happy weekend!  Here’s what I read this week, and what I’m currently reading…

Last week I posted an interesting story from the Weekly Standard about the connection between homelessness, gentrification, and major tech boom in west coast cities. This week, I want to link to a Daily Briefing by Al Mohler about, as he puts it, ‘How morality, not just economics, (are) factors in to Amazon’s search for HQ2.’  We are living in a time in which the social morés of our culture are rapidly becoming upside down from what is both natural and good for men and women. And these new morés are not neutral when it comes to social and financial pressure. What you see in the search for a new Amazon location is what we’ve increasingly seen in Georgia and other states where major corporations are complicit in pushing an agenda that elevates homosexuality, sodomy and transgenderism. In short, companies like Amazon and Coke are run by people who make economic decisions based upon a perversity scale that tilts decidedly toward darkness and not light.

The consequences of these kinds of decisions are not small.

The task of corporate America seems to be to ignore depravity on one hand while extending their other in greedy economic avarice. The task of Christians isn’t as outwardly tidy.  Christians do not use two hands to fantastically and blindly parse perversity and avarice. Christians must use both hands to embrace the sinners in love without forfeiting their reason, and the reason emboldening them toward embracing is the acknowledgement of evil and sin in this world and its people, and the understanding of the transformative consequences of repentance. Sadly it might also soon drive them toward poverty if real economics is to play the slave in a game whose ground rules are determined by sexual perversion.

Moving on…

One of the big developments this week is North Korea’s decision to come to the peace/bargaining/talks (not sure how to characterize this) table.  Over at the Times, Nicholas Eberstadt is skeptical.  The thing I’m hearing from some of you is that this is either an amazing breakthrough, or its just another ploy by the North and a big time betrayal on the horizon from the South.  Who knows. Just too early to know for sure.  But I’m sort of in the skeptics camp for now.

More foreign policy: China’s New Aircraft Carrier Is Already Obsolete

Continuing on the theme, I found this interesting: North Korean Internet Users Shun Facebook and Google for Chinese Alternatives

A few weeks ago I was in Louisville for the bi-annual Together for the Gospel conference.  Usually a great time, and this was no exception.  The organizers just sent around an email with the messages from the week.  One of the best ones came from Ligon Duncan and is titled ‘The Whole in Our Holiness’.  A powerful message that “traces the biblical storyline to show how Christ redeems his fallen people, renewing them to a whole-hearted obedience to the God of grace.”  I appreciated his humility and his very personal address of issues of race.

Staying on theology, Ligonier was posting some of Dr. Sproul’s messages on Moses’ mountain top experience at Sinai this week that were really good, and one of the messages that stood out was this one, ‘I AM: The Aseity of God’. 

Oh man: Watch out! Goose attacks Michigan high school golfer (h/t Alex)

Here’s a longer one that is really sad, but a good look inside gang life for young immigrants, A Betrayal: The teenager told police all about his gang, MS-13. In return, he was slated for deportation and marked for death.  The policy upshot of this is that everything the government does, every one of those platitudes that politicos preach, all have consequences.  Sometimes you have to go for what is 80% good and deal with the unintended fallout of the 20%.  That’s just the way policy works.  So I’m not posting this as a policy statement as ​much as an eye-opening look at a reality many people are unaware of.

One of the hottest articles of the week in Politico Mag, Church of The Donald: Never mind Fox. Trump’s most reliable media mouthpiece is now Christian TV.  I’m always interested in how the secular media explores issues of faith, because its so foreign to them. So obviously there are things about this article that will make any Christian shake their head for that reason. But it was interesting to me to learn just how long ago (2011?) the President was courting the Christian media. He truly has a genius for communication and subverting the traditional mediums and outlets (as they note). The other conclusions that thinking Christians might reach are 1. It’s really great to have an administration so chalk full of faith-driven leaders who will understand the Christian worldview and 2. It’s worth noting how many “christian” charlatans (cf. Paula White) in regular orbit with the President.

Finally, this is the sad conclusion to the Alfie Evans story. The biggest thing to note here (which isn’t really figured prominently in this article) is that the government stepped in to deny the Evans’ family the ability to fly the baby to Spain for a last-chance treatment. The Spanish government had even extended citizenship to the child, so that any legal issues would be expedited. It was at once heartening to see political leaders stepping up to the plate, and angering to see the British courts block that option.  In the Bible we are told that governments are God’s agents and instruments for justice – in order to keep a peaceful and functioning society. The main function of government is to keep its people safe – either by war, or border security, or highway safety and the list goes on.  But when leaders pervert justice, trample on even the idea of life’s sacred nature and value, one can begins to question that government’s legitimacy. That is why there is outrage and discussion over these kinds of issues, and rightfully so.  Christians are called to submit to the governing authorities, but when the governing authorities side with death over life, and evil over good, there will necessarily be times where civil disobedience is the right course of action. Easier said than done, of course. These are sticky wickets.


So I’ve been remiss in talking about books lately.  Here’s what I’ve recently read worth talking about…

Theology in Three Dimensions. This book by John Frame isn’t long, but it will certainly give you a fresh perspective on reading your Bible.  I don’t recommend it for the new Christian, because the theological and technical language is sometimes “assumed” and not explained.  But I did appreciate how Frame opened my eyes to other questions and more existential perspectives (putting yourself in another’s position).

Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon. This was really fascinating. My goodreads review snipet, “McQueen was from a generation that came before me, but the movies I’ve watched where he played a staring role make it plain why he was dubbed ‘The King of Cool’ in his day. That’s all fine and well, but what about the man behind the fame? And what about that profession of faith in Jesus that came near the end of a life so packed full of ups and downs that Cedar Point would be jealous? Well, its all in this bio by pastor and author Greg Laurie. I don’t know a lot about Greg, but I can tell you that he was the perfect person to write this book. A huge fan of McQueen, Laurie grew up in almost nearly identical circumstances. His rough childhood mirrored McQueen’s in many ways, and that’s a big part of what makes this book so undeniably enjoyable and meaningful.

Hawke.  Addictive, unpredictable, immature, profane and slightly corny. Fun to read, easy to read, Bell is the kind of author whose fertile mind could have likely been employed in a much higher way. The creativity of this man when it comes to plot-lines is hard to deny, you just wish he wasn’t so obvious sometimes, and so corny others.

Humble Roots.  I’ll be honest and say I sometimes find it hard to read spiritual books written by women because the examples and analogies they use just don’t speak to me.  But Hannah Anderson has written a very helpful book here for all audiences.  It’s most striking feature is just how self-aware she is. It’s like the truths that come out of an exchange in the Brothers Karamazov between a woman who comes to confess her sins and the monastery Elder to whom she’s confessing. The Elder tells of a similar circumstance where a man was seemingly so self-aware that he understood his main problem was that while he thrived on ideas of love for mankind in general and peace on earth, he could not abide men specifically.  It’s that realization that you find yourself irritated by even the most saintly people because they chew too loud, or are “perpetually blowing their nose” (to quote Dostoyevsky).  Anderson cuts to the heart of this and redeems it. I’m going to have to re-read it sometime in the future.

Economics in One Lesson.  This is Hazlitt’s most popular work, I believe, and it was recommended to me by my friend Britain.  It was really, really good.  Just a solid reminder of the reality of how the world really works economically (despite all the manipulation by Keynesians).  If I had to summarize now the difference between Keynesian economics and Hazlitt’s Austrian/Chicago School, I would say that the latter understands man’s proclivities toward production and desire for gain and therefore seeks to properly regulate and unlock that potential in order to unleash productivity and wealth, while the former also understands men’s desires and vices, but manipulates them through macro monetary policies that continually perpetuate the same rich classes while seeking simultaneously to smooth out the boom and bust cycles (although this is disillusion, as we’ve seen).  I like to beat up on the Keynesians, can you tell?  So what is the “one lesson”?  That we need to look beyond the immediate and short term effects of our policies to longer term effects, to see how our ideas will play out and in what ways (as much as is possible).

I’ve got a bunch more I’m reading and enjoying, and if you want to see what those are you can click here.

That’s it for now!  Have a great weekend!



Weekend Reading: April 21, 2018

Welcome to the weekend!  Just a few stories for you.

First and foremost there is a long article in the Weekly Standard from Ethan Epstein titled ‘Homeless in Seattle’ and, while long, is hits on a question I’ve been thinking about for a while now: How is the tech economy and the bubbles of prosperity in certain cities impacting the lower income classes of people in those cities?  The reason this is percolating in my mind is that the city I live in, Columbus, OH, is on the short list for Amazon’s second headquarters location.  While I am not sure we are a top pick from even that short list, I’ve been thinking with some apprehension about the affects of a possible move here and what kind of positive and negative transformation it would bring to our city.  I’d be interested in your thoughts…

How in the world had I never seen this before now?  This. Is. Hilarious. The Hayek vs. Keynes Rap — “Fear the Boom and Bust” (h/t Brad S. – congrats Brad, you made it in the weekend reading!)

Speaking of hilarious: Did Congress Give Big Boy Mark Zuckerberg a Booster Seat for His Special Day?

Some wise words to consider from Jared Wilson in an article for Table Talk Mag: Attending Corporate Worship. Excerpt:

It’s not that you’re better than everyone else. It’s because you realize you may in fact be worse. When you back the family car out of the driveway on Sunday morning, you are telling your neighbors that you need Jesus and no amount of Sunday leisure can satisfy you like Him, that no rest is better than that which is found in Jesus, and that when the thin veneer of worldly frivolities starts to show a few cracks, you might be the kind of person they could talk to about the “alternative lifestyle” of following Jesus.

I  had not seen this story until today: Jesus, Take the Control Wheel: Southwest Pilot Saw Flying as Ministry. Really amazing stuff.

Did anyone else happen to see this????  Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles. I got kind of excited to see such a cool breakthrough, but then I thought about all the other things that have been ruined through scientific manipulations…food pops to mind.  Specifically though, what will releasing this enzyme in the world’s oceans mean for those habitats?  I think we need to very carefully think through this stuff.

Ummm…NASA Basically Missed a Huge Asteroid That Passed Unnervingly Close to Earth

I have not finished listening to this yet, but so far its really terrific: The Glory of Christ and Racial Unity.

More from DG: What is a Kind Husband?  Really good perspective here.

Interesting perspective over in the Washington Post by Marc Thiessen re: the Syrian Strikes.  It surprised me a bit because I think Marc is a pretty conservative thinker.  But its good to read different perspectives on things, and in this case it actually shocked my system a little because I hadn’t even considered things from the perspective of North Korea.

I think that sometimes Matt Walsh can be a bit harsh and uncharitable in his rhetoric, but underlying this story is an interesting hypocrisy that needs explored and brought to the light for consideration: If Your Sex Life Is None Of Our Business, Stop Demanding That We Celebrate It And Fund It

Important Headline: Millions Of Marshmallow Peeps Begin Annual Migration Back To Isle Of Disgusting Candies

Finally, a word about the recent Francis debacle.  I didn’t get to post this yet, but its a Catholic perspective on the Francis “hell” debacle from Red State: Pope Francis Continues to Confuse the Hell Out of the Faithful. Again.  I recently posted (in a somewhat sarcastic manner) on my Facebook that if the Pope questioned the existence of hell, there would be no real need for Good Friday.  I hope my sarcasm didn’t cause anyone too much angst on what is obviously a very serious topic. What I was getting at is that without the principle of a punishment for our sins, there is no need for a payment for our sins (i.e. Christ’s death on that “Good Friday”).  But what came up in the comments section of my post was that if the pope is wrong on this, or any of the other controversial things he’s been saying during his term, then it ought to cause Catholics to examine whether the man can indeed err. Is he capable of sin. Is he infallible? Biblically we know the answer is “yes”, he can err because he’s a man and therefore a sinner (Rom. 3-5). Even post-Pentecost Peter, the “first pope” was chastised by the Apostle Paul for his (dare we say…racist) sin as we read about in the Galatians. If Peter, the rock on which the church is founded, could err, so can this pope. This pope is not more holy than the great apostles whether he speaks ex-cathedra or not. If this is so, then we would need to examine whether the faithful in the Catholic church ought to be placing as much authority on the pronouncements of the church as on scripture itself (which does not err).  I would argue that church and its leaders are not infallible, and that the idea runs contrary to all of man’s experience and God’s revelation. If this is true…well…dominoes…

My heart on this is for my friends.  My question and my plea for consideration these friends who are genuinely faithful Christians who love Jesus and believe the gospel is this: Is it time to step back and once again consider a reformation from within your church?  I know many of you are frustrated by this pope, and I want you to see that it was just these kinds of things that led Luther and Calvin and thousands of others to try and reform the church 500 years ago.  Many just ended up leaving the church altogether. Indeed, the theological nucleus of the Roman Catholic church hasn’t changed much, and was indeed reaffirmed in 1993 with the updated catechism.

I would love to see Bible believing, Christ following, Gospel-driven believers inside the Catholic church lead a reformation that transforms the church and brings it back to its roots – its pre-Gregory roots. Pre-pope, pre-indulgences, pre-purgatory, pre-man-centered justification days.  The good old days where Augustine and Jerome and Clement and the Patriarchs all saw themselves as equals with their fellow believers in from Rome to Constantinople and Jerusalem to Antioch.  Is this possible?  Is it possible that this particularly poor pope could awaken in Catholic believers a need for reformation and return to a gospel-driven scripture-centric faith?  I believe God can bring good things from bad/evil situations, and man would it be cool if this were the case here!

I see these kinds of stories and it actually awakens in me a hope that they will ignite discussion and reformation, and that many will be saved as a result.  It actually gets me excited – can you imagine a world where the biggest religious organization in the world dropped the man-centered sandy foundation of their doctrine in exchange for Sola Scriptura, Sola Christus, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia and Soli Deo Gloria?  Can you imagine a world where, opposite of the drug-induced fantasy of the Lennon-themed naif song that bears said moniker, the organized church points people to a freedom unparalleled in their personal experiences?  I can only imagine what a reformation from within that church would do for humanity – not simply on a physical and community level, but for eternity.

I write those thoughts because I want my friends in the Catholic faith to know my heart for them and their church. It’s no use hurling critiques if there is no encouragement and hope and prayer to go alongside them. My prayer is for reformation in that organization and for its people to once again awaken to the importance of right gospel-centric doctrine and the primacy of Scripture.

That’s it for today!  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!