2013 in Review: Quotes

I love to collect quotes and sayings that challenge or inspire me, or just help me things differently. Here’s a list of things that warranted me writing them down in 2013:


The only joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our own false self, and enter by love into union with the life Who dwells and sings within the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls.  -Thomas Merton
“Faith does not simply account for the unknown, tag it with a theological tag and file it away in a safe place where we do not have to worry about it. This is a falsification of the whole idea of faith. On the contrary, faith incorporates the unknown into our everyday life in a living dynamic and actual manner. The unknown remains unknown. It is still a mystery, for it cannot cease to be one. The function of faith is not to reduce mystery to rational clarity, but to integrate the unknown and the known together in a living whole, in which we are more and more able to transcend the limitations of our external self. -Merton
“In fighting deliberate and evident vices a planned strategy of resolutions and penances is the best way—if not the only way… When it ends, and when you have a good habit to work with, do not forget the moments of battle when you were wounded and disarmed and helpless. Do not forget that, for all your efforts, you only won because of God, Who did the fighting in you.” -Merton
“We all want to be healed, but the staggering truth of our faith is that God’s presence with us is ultimately more important than our healing.” -Me 🙂
“We were innocent before we started feeling guilty; we were in the light before we entered into darkness; we were at home before we started to search for a home. Deep in the recesses of our minds and hearts there lies hidden treasure we seek.” -Nouwen
“The eyes of love had seen you as precious, as of infinite, as of eternal value. When loves chooses, it chooses with a perfect sensitivity for the unique beautify of the chosen one, and it chooses without making anyone else feel excluded.” -Nouwen
“There is little or no neutral territory between the land of the blessed and the land of the cursed. You have to choose where it is that you want to  live, and that choice is one that you have to keep making from moment to moment.” -Nouwen
“The great spiritual call of the Beloved Children of God is to pull their brokenness away from the shadow of the curse and put it under the light of the blessing.” -Nouwen
“Eternal life is not some great surprise that comes unannounced at the end of our existence in time; it is rather, the full revelation of what we have been and have lived all along.” -Nouwen
“You hit bottom when you stop digging.”
“My goal in life is not to ‘succeed’; it’s to live my life with humility.”
“Leadership is getting more out of people than the science of management says you can.” -Colin Powell
“The value of and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things… as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value.” -Teilhard de Chardin
“The world needs more than the secret holiness of individual inwardness. It needs more than sacred sentiments and good intentions. God asks for the heart because He needs the lives. It is by lives that the world will be redeemed, by lives that beat in concordance with God, by deeds that outbeat the finite charity of the human heart.” -Abraham Joshua Heschel

2013 in Review: Music

Since I laid out my books, I thought I’d briefly go through some musical purchases that I enjoyed this year.

*NOTE 1: These aren’t necessarily 2013 releases; they are 2013 discoveries

*NOTE 2: I don’t listen to quite as much music as I used to, so don’t expect to be wowed. I just thought I’d share.

*NOTE 3: I still listen have a steady list of “older” favorites that were in heavy rotation in 2013 (though not purchased):

  • Live at Leeds. The Who.
  • El Camino. The Black Keys (one of Levi’s favorites)
  • Sevastapol. Jay Farrar (one of my top 5 driving CDs)
  • Most of Emmylou Harris’ catalog
  • Most of Sigur Rós’ cataglog
  • High Violet. The National

But anyway… here’s 2013 music:

  • Ode to Sunshine. The Delta Spirit. Maida Vale shared a stage with these guys in 2008 or 2009, and they blew us away with their raw intensity and musicianship. Reminded me of a much more angsty version of  The Band.
  • Sea of Cowards. The Dead Weather. When I first heard this band, they were just too creepy for me. Either they have gotten less creepy, or I’ve gotten moreso. Either way, Jack White and Alison Morehart are a potent duo, and they write killer riffs and haunting songs. Scary, but good.
  • Wise Up Ghost. Elvis Costello and the Roots. Oh my: this is virtually required. There’s not a super-catchy pop song on this collection, IMO, but just by virtue of the fact that it’s Costello (one of the most well-respected songwriters in this era) and The Roots (they should be declared a national treasure, the way Brazil declared Pele a national treasure back in the 70s), you should be listening to this. 
  • More Than Just a Dream. Fitz and the Tantrums. This was part of the summer soundtrack of the Case household. We collectively love these guys. Best if listened to loudly, while dancing.
  • Love in the Future. John Legend. I pretty much love everything John Legend does. So there.
  • Born and Raised. John Mayer. If there was a soundtrack to my sabbatical, this was it. This record just broke me down, and helped me heal. The title track also served as the inspiration for “My Redeemer Lives”, from my little release this summer. I haven’t been pierced by lyrics like this in a long while, and it felt good.
  • The Invisible Way. Low. This is “Where have I been?” Part 1. These guys are simply amazing. Gentle, rainy music. I found these guys through “Silver Rider” from Robert Plant’s Band of Joy disc, but boy I’m sure glad I found the rest.
  • Trouble Will Find Me. The National. Oh yes. Just as subtle, melancholy, and “New York” as the previous ones. Thank you.
  • Hesitation Marks. Nine Inch Nails. After Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky came out, a friend of mine remarked, “You know, I think that lyrically I like addicted Jeff Tweedy a little more than sober Jeff Tweedy.” Insensitive, I know, but I think I can relate: I like angry Trent Reznor a little bit better than married and content Trent Reznor. However, everything is relative: “content” Trent Reznor is still pretty dark and twisted. Hesitation Marks isn’t my favorite NIN record by far, but it still has its darkly groovy moments.
  • Woman. Rhye. This is another summer soundtrack in our house. This record is gently and sensuous. Definitely a cool, mellow, evening music. (P.S. the singer’s a dude!)
  • Kveikur. Sigur Rós. Creepy. Just creepy.

Well, there you have it. No links or anything, so if you want it … go snag it.

2013 in Review: Books

I’ve been out of pocket. Sorry.

Honestly, I’ve been in a funk, and haven’t been focused on writing so much.

(As I’m writing this I’m listening to Rush for crying out loud!)

But that being said, I’ve been kicking around a few ideas, and I figured I’d start by doing a somewhat haphazard book and music review of 2013.

I’m just going to list everything that I’ve bought and read/listened to, and throw out some notes where something strikes me.

Enjoy, and feel free to ask me questions about anything you see on the list.


  1. Leadership Jazz. Max DePree. I’ve had this a long time, and just decided to review it for the heck of it.
  2. The War of ArtStephen Pressfield. If you do anything creative (and let’s face it: it’s all creative, isn’t it?), this is a must read. I’ve read it twice already, and I only bought it in 2012.
  3. Sabbath. Dan Allender
  4. Spiritual Direction and Meditation. Thomas Merton.
  5. Catching Fire. I have a daughter; deal with it.
  6. New Seeds of Contemplation. Thomas Merton. Very impactful book. God broke me down, grew me and stretched me in unbelievable ways in 2013, and this was one of the things that “primed the pump.”
  7. Giving Church Another Chance. Todd Hunter. An evangelical-turned-Anglican describes the impact of the liturgy on his spiritual life.
  8. Mockingjay. I still have a daughter; deal with it.
  9. Life of the BelovedNouwen. This was the first book I read when I started in vocational ministry. It still hits home with me every time. Highly recommended.
  10. Slam. Nick Hornby. Great fiction by my favorite modern English writer.
  11. Getting Things Done. David Allen. My approach to productivity; I try to read this once a year.
  12. Courageous Leadership. Bill Hybels. A great overview of leadership in ministry.
  13. Bread & Wine. A devotional for Lent. Variety of writers.
  14. The History of Christianity, Vol 2 (Gonzalez). Read it for Asbury, but it’s a great book.
  15. Reason and Religious Belief. Read for a philosophy of Christian religion class. Made my brain hurt.
  16. Philosophy of Religion. Same. Brain hurt more.
  17. The Wounded Healer. Nouwen. Another tiny book with heavy truth in it. Addresses empathy and openness in pastors.
  18. Last Argument of Kings. Joe Abercrombie. Fantasy/fiction.
  19. The Illumined HeartMathews-Green. This tiny book will rock your world if you let it. If you are looking for practical ways to make your faith a day-to-day (moment-to-moment?) experience, grab this and open your heart and mind.
  20. Born to Run. A great book on running. It inspired me to actually commit to a 5k.
  21. Ruthless Trust. Brennan Manning. I always make sure I read one Brennan Manning book per year. This is a brilliant, challenging book on trusting Jesus to love us in spite of brokenness.
  22. Open Heart, Open Mind. Thomas Keating. A game changer. Given to me by a spiritual mentor, and it’s changed the way I view prayer, and my spiritual journey. This is deep, deep stuff.
  23. The Way of Men. Martin Buber. I went through a brief fascination with hasidic writing. This is a very short book, but a good introduction.
  24. King Leopold’s Ghost. Inspired by a conversation with a good friend, combined with an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. It’s a recounting of the tragedy of the Belgian Congo. Millions of Africans murdered in the name of … well, nothing. Genocide. Sad, but necessary reading.
  25. Sacred Treason. Historical fiction.
  26. The Creative HabitTwyla Tharp. I’m always up for a good read on creativity, and this book is spot-on. Great, practical advice on developing habits for creativity.
  27. Introduction to Christian Doctrine. Lawson. Seminary reading.
  28. Introduction to Christian Theology. Gonzalez and Perez. Seminary reading, but a great basic intro to theology and doctrine.
  29. Leonardo and the Last Supper. Ross King. Ross King is a great historian and story-teller. Good study of Di Vinci’s efforts to paint the last supper. (Ross King’s book Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling is a big inspiration for my on-again, off-again book on spiritual disciplines).
  30. Facing East. Mathewes-Green. This is about a family’s journey into the Orthodox faith.
  31. David and Goliath. Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve always been a fan of Gladwell’s, and this book is more of the same. Not quite as many brilliant insights as in some of his previous works, but great stories all the same.
  32. The Solace of Fierce LandscapesBeldon Lane. I really enjoyed this book. It’s about desert spirituality, and really impacted me this year. A lot of my reading came together around common themes, and desert monasticism loomed large for me. It was very healthy and healing.
  33. Managing Your Day-to-Day99U. This is a great collection of essays on creative productivity. Full of tips and strategies to stay focused on “getting stuff done.”
  34. Breathing Underwater. Richard Rohr. This book on recovery and 12-step spirituality had a deep impact on me. Rohr really has a grasp on spiritual growth.
  35. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Ben Witherington. Witherington’s New Testament commentaries are really good and useful. Challenging, but also pretty solid scholarship.
  36. Divine Therapy. Thomas Keating.
  37. Spirituality of ImperfectionJust wow. A new perspective of life, and what it means to be human. One of my main influences this fall.
  38. 11/22/63. Stephen King. An odd book for me, but King is a great writer, and I decided to take a chance. About Kennedy’s assassination. And time travel. And creepy buildings.
  39. Gone Girl. Another odd choice, but a thriller. Well written.
  40. Heroes and HereticsThomas Cahill. I pushed to get this read before Jan 31. Cahill is a brilliant writer, and this is another book in his “Hinges of History” series. It’s all about identifying turning points in history—including social, spiritual, cultural, artistic movements—and showing how they came about and what kind of influence they had. I highly recommend any of them, but if you want to start somewhere, look at either The Desire of the Everlasting Hills or How the Irish Saved Civilization