Book Review: The Heart and the Fist

Some books entertain, some challenge, humble, inform, outrage… Eric Greitens’ book did all that, and more.

Detailing his education as a university student, Rhodes scholar and humanitarian worker in places like China, Rwanda and Bolivia, The Heart and the Fist recounts Mr. Greitens experiences with some of our world’s most profound needs and the people who labor to meet them. If that wasn’t enough, the author then turns down an academic opportunity at Oxford as well as a lucrative consulting position to enter into Navy SEAL training, with subsequent deployments in Kenya, S.E. Asia, and Iraq.

Direct, sober, tautly written,The Heart and the Fist probably won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. The book is quite different however, distinguished by what I can only describe as an enduring tenor of optimism. There is a resolve, a sense of traction that’s woven through the narrative. This book has – for lack of a better word – ‘spirit’. Mr. Greitens isn’t simply a perceptive spectator or affected soul struggling in an ocean of need; he’s an example of an individual response. The Heart and the Fist is the story of one man not content to be informed or raise awareness, but motivated to make a difference. It was both humbling and refreshing, and left a definite mark on my soul.

Thank you, Mr. Greitens.

Five Stars.

You can get a copy:On Amazon

Pinging another good post from Mike Duran

Been so sick lately I can barely stay on my feet, let alone think, but I wanted to pass on a post regarding the Church’s “Cultural IQ” from Mike Duran. Click here for the link. I genuinely appreciate Mike’s Blog and highly recommend it.

Here’s my own response:

Another good post, Mike. Very near and dear to my heart.

The thought that ignorance somehow equates to sanctification has long plagued the Church, and it breeds a weird, cloistered contempt for the very world we are called to reach. I hate to say it but it’s little wonder we’re dismissed as tedious or irrelevant if we refuse to acquire proper sorting mechanisms and frames of reference to engage people where they’re at. God isn’t scared of knowledge. There’s no question He doesn’t have the answer to, and faux-piety and willful stupidity isn’t attractive or anointed.

Recently though I’ve encountered an equal and the opposite error in some big-name ministries; something I call the TET Offensive: Talent, Emotion and Technology… with a smattering of WWJD. It’s relevance sans substance. I’m certainly not making a case for ignorance, but the pendulum can swing too far the other way. Regardless of our “awareness”, the strongest card we can play will always be our personal knowledge of Jesus and Grace.

Indie Writing’s soiled underbelly.

Bouncing off a friend’s blog post Author Lee Stephen, I wanted to discuss an oft-overlooked facet of Indie writing and motivation: the desire not to be a bum.

We can wax eloquent about striving towards your dreams, tear up over the stories that burn in your heart, rant about the noble struggle of authentic artists, and all those are true and worthy and poignant… but I’d like to peel back a layer and make a confession.

One of the reasons I started writing was I didn’t want to be a bum.

I’ve run my art glass studio Glass Graphics Studio and Etsy Shop since 1999. I’ve been blessed with steady commissions, classes, some retail… stuff to keep me busy and bring in $$$.

But seeing as stained glass is a definite niche, luxury item, when the *cough, cough* “economic slump” struck, there wasn’t a lot of work. At all. Things pretty much tanked. I didn’t want to close up my studio, and being disabled, it wasn’t like I could pick up grunt work on friends’ carpentry crews in the meantime (not that they had work either) so I did two things: I went back to college and started writing.

Yes, I’ve always wanted to write. Yes, I’ve had stories bouncing around in my head for decades. Yes, I’m confident this is one of many tasks I’m ‘called’ to. Of course I dreamed about movie options and foreign-language rights. But the urge to be productive, to forge a creative outlet for my skill-set in the new-found “spare” time was stronger than the desire to laze about in my PJ’s playing computer games.

I read recently that in our modern world – swamped with a constant deluge of movies, TV, cartoons, serial bestsellers, PC Games, MMORPGs, etc – five percent of the population does the dreaming for the other ninety-five percent. That as individuals, we’ve grown far too content and complacent with other people’s visions and fantasies, allowing our imaginations to atrophy, our passions to cool, our hope to fade in the face of slick Marketing Campaigns and CGI Special Effects. That kind of spin and polish make it all too easy to sit back and surrender.

That choice stares me in the face every time I sit down at my computer. Sure, I might watch the latest episode of Southland or run and gun through a level of Dead Space 2, but I can’t get away from the haunting conviction it’s time we got up off the couch and started forging our own dreams again.

The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground. ~Author Unknown