Technology Needs Poetry

bookAmy and I had just entered the biblio-pilgrims destination in Portland Oregon this past Tuesday. Even though the temple was under construction Powell’s Books was busy with life. Grabbing a facilities map as we entered we chose to divide and conquer each of us heading toward our favorite areas of erudite worship.

It wasn’t long before Amy shot me a text. She had found a really intriguing and really old book of poetry on the top floor near the rare books section.

She showed me her rare find.

The book was small and had the familiar smell of dust mixed with age; its pages darkened with time.

Compiled in 1929, the title was utilitarian: “One Hundred and One Famous Poems, with a prose supplement.”

Many of the writers were familiar, but the selected works were like a newly found  picture of an old friend. Quickly I scanned the poems and noted some that I would need to read.  What struck me immediately, though,  was the preface penned by the editor Roy J. Cook. It reads as follows:

“This is the age of science, of steel-of speed and the cement road. The age of hard faces and hard highways. Science and steel demand the medium of prose. Speed requires only the look-the gesture What need then of poetry?

Great need!

There are souls, in these noise-tired times, that turn aside into unfrequented lanes, where the deep woods have harbored the fragrances of many a blossoming season. Here the light, filtering through perfect forms, arranges itself in lovely patterns for those who perceive beauty.

It is the purpose of this little volume to enrich, enable, encourage. And for man, who has learned to love convenience, it is hardly larger than his concealing pocket.”

How timely for us today. The age of science and speed, and I would add technology. As technology continues to increase at an exponential rate, the need to slow, and read prose, practice meditation and find balance in solitude and silence with God also rises.

The very advances that were supposed to bring us more time to enjoy life, seem to absorb any spare moment we might otherwise have.

Noise-tired and technologically-saturated lives have great need of words that remind of what matters most.

hamletsblackberry385-01A book I have read in the past couple years titled Hamlet’s Blackberry (which I highly recommend) looks at our current “screen addiction” offering  some hope for our souls in a culture that is obsessive about connectivity. Hamlet’s Blackberry  illustrates how our technological advances over the centuries have eroded  much more than we realize, and the author gives great advice on how to regain what we have lost. Check it out here.

So, yes, our data-filled, noise-filled, and growth-oriented world need prose, poetry and verse to bring balance and beauty back to us. To that end, allow me to reveal some prose from my new little book. The title is “A Psalm of Life.”  The author is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

I know you are busy. There are more things in your inbox than in your completed box. You don’t have time to slow and read something that doesn’t help your current end-game…but hold on.

Maybe reading this will be a tipping point for your soul…

Perhaps in the next few moments your soul will be stirred and offer a different direction for your future…

Maybe, just maybe, you will breathe deeper and feel the joy of life return to your bones. So relax, and absorb Longfellow’s words. May they be a dessert for your busy-soul.

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but empty dreams!–
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like a muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

I agree with the editors premise…our world of science, steel and speed need poetry.

Top Books I read in 2013

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I love books. I read many titles every year. There are some offerings that I re-read annually to keep me grounded, but I am always finding title after title that intrigue me enough to hit the one-click button on my Amazon prime account. Sometimes the books are solid, often they lack what I am looking for, but always I grow in some area of understanding.

I have always been one who believes that people need to read widely and not pigeon-hole themselves into one genre’ or to read only what you already agree with. True growth comes from being challenged. When you read a book that challenges your presuppositions and pre-understandings, you are forced to work through what you believe and why you believe it, and that is a good thing.

There is always something to learn…
Something to discern…
Something to think critically about…

So, I am going to give you my list a “favs” from 2013. Here is my disclaimer *I don’t agree with everything that the authors wrote in their books, nor is it an endorsement of other titles the author has written. It simply means I found the book to be compelling.

If you agree 100% with everything an author has written, she/he is either AMAZING or you are not reading with your fully engaged sense of critical analysis…the only exception is the book Sacred Space by this really amazing guy I know! The books are in no special order, just my top recommends from this past year. I am working on my top “Must Read” list of all time. I will try to finish that compilation in January.

Feel free to leave me your top book reads in the comments section. Clicking on the title will take you to the book on amazon.com

1. The Go Giver (Bob Burg & John David Mann)

2. How God Became King: The Forgotten Story Of The Gospels N.T Wright)

3. Be Our Guest: Perfecting the art of customer service (The Disney Institute)

4. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (Andy Crouch)

5. Imaginary Jesus (Matt Mikalatos)

6. The Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking (Oliver Burkeman)

7. God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run The World (Stephen Prothero)

8. Love Is An Orientation: Elevating The Conversation With The Gay Community (Andrew Marin)

9. The Way Of A Pilgrim (Anonymous 18th century)

10. The Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins)

11. Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain)

12. The Case For The Psalms: Why They Are Essential (N.T Wright)

13. Stars In The Texas Sky (Stephen Matlock)

14. Tip And The Gipper: When Politics Worked (Chris Matthews)