The End of Many Books

Cognitive Productivity with macOS

by Luc Beaudoin

We must process a lot of information, and this book provided some useful (cognitive) categories for sorting and prioritizing and reviewing knowledge using Apple products. I am thankful for the terms and for the many screencasts linked to in the book. I already use some of the apps he recommended and will be adding OmniOutliner and a flashcard app to my arsenal.

4 of 5 stars

A Shot of Encouragement

Weaponized Inspiration Generation

Thanks to this I saw this about weaponized inspiration generation. My treadmill is his bike ride, and it is the place where the majority of my ideas (good and bad) occur because I am doing something else. An hour a day on the treadmill accompanied by a half-size yellow pad is an offensive maneuver.

The End of Many Books


by David Murray

I give 5 stars when I really like a book (as is the Goodreads standard) but also when I would immediately start rereading the book. Such is Reset.

I did not want to like it. I am less impressed with guys who talk about taking a break and seek my encouragement from men who spend until they are broke. That said, this was the free ChristianAudio book a couple months ago, I started to listen, Mo also started to listen, and we realized that both have some work to do in the various repair garages as Murray refers to them.

My hard copy arrived last week and I plan to use it like a workbook over the next month or so.

5 of 5 stars

Lord's Day Liturgy

No Lifehacks for Obedience

I have read a variety of books about productivity and getting things done and how to figure out what’s best next. I kind of like the genre. I have tried a lot of task apps, todo systems, and techniques for processing information. These have a place. We are created for good works, and being able to plan and organize and aim our good works is a good thing.

But. There is often a but. But, efficiency and effectiveness can become idols. Not only can they become false gods, they are not gentle gods, they are cutthroat. There is always someone serving those gods better than you who get greater rewards, and there are always items left on the list every day that didn’t get done to burden your guilt. Most of the books and articles and lifehacks offer an answer. You must change something in your circumstances in order to do better.

The assumption is that the problem with your productive service is your environment. What you need is a list organized like this. What you need is a clean desk like this. What you need is a place to store all your papers, digital or analog, like this. What you need is to carve out blocks of uninterrupted quiet time like this.

One danger of these sorts of “this-es” is that they tempt us to see our neighbor (family member, friend, co-worker) as an inconvenience, a hindrance to “our” work. But it is not blessed to blame. It is not blessed to lust for quiet, and get angry, when God clearly isn’t giving it to you. Pastors tell other pastors the story of Jonathan Edwards who regularly spent thirteen hours a day by himself in his study. While I’m thankful for some of his fruit, he left his wife Sarah to run the house. That is not more spiritual, it’s more selfish.

Let us be zealous for good works as Paul told Titus to tell his people. Go ahead and make a list, and get an app if you need to. Let us redeem the time because the days are evil. And let us never think that if we could just control our environments then we could obey God. Obey Him always and in everything.

Enjoying the Process

Et Liberi, Et Libri

Do my kids keep me from being productive?

They could, perhaps, and I used to lean more toward that irritation. I prefer quiet for reading and writing, for study and sermon preparation, you know, for the “important” work. But, along with being married and talking with my wife, my kids give me a greater reason to think about things and figure out how to say them. In other words, I may not crank out more words, but God uses my kids to crank me.

Nietzsche used the Latin pun aut liberi, aut libri, “either children or books.” He made the word play about what survives, to legacy through library or through progeny. I don’t know for sure whether he meant to pit them against each other, as if we could only choose one. But whatever he meant, why not both?

Some people—think your stereotypical ditch-digger—need to find some time to read (or listen to) good books. Some other people—think your stereotypical seminary student—have a moral obligation to have kids and spend more time with them. I write for my kids (whether they read it or not, now or ever), and I am learning from them. This relates to my thoughts about all that I’m learning from helping to start a school. I have a life from which to speak, rather than wrongly acting as if speaking is my life.

Most productivity books, writing books included, talk about setting up cognitive space, as in actual spatial spots (in a study, a barn, a coffee shop), that prepare the mind to think deeply and creatively. Get away from distractions. Tell others you aren’t available during that time. And sure, if you have the luxury to choose your cup of tea, drink up. But isn’t art often identified by the constraints? Aren’t some of the best artists the ones who can succeed within the constraints? Then why can’t the “constraints” that come along with responsibilities such as fatherhood enable better flavor?

Jonathan Edwards wrote some profound things, like down near the bottom of mankind’s depth. He was a deep dude. Biographers record that some days he spent thirteen hours a day alone in his study. On occasion he would leave the dinner table, which was still full of his family and guests, in order to go get back in his “zone.” While I strive to honor God with all my affections and industry, I no longer assume that such effort and energy is separate from my dad life, it’s more rich because of it. So let’s adopt the Latin phrase into et liberi, et liber, “both children and books.”

For some additional thoughts, read A Bad Equation by Austin Kleon.