Greg shares some things. Monthly.
View this email in your browser

First Thoughts

Amanda and I recently attended a concert where our favorite musician was ready to introduce a new song. He fumbled his way through its introduction before finally saying, "it's a weird time to be an American."

Thinking about the various headlines and feature stories in the news, I think you'll agree. But it's hard not to be downtrodden. With campaign rhetoric sounding anything but presidential and violence raging in our streets as more cemetery plots become unnecessarily and prematurely occupied, anyone would feel justified in acknowledging the darkness that continues to linger.

Last December, when I decided that October's theme would be Beauty, I couldn't have known the circumstances under which I would be writing. The metaphor here seems powerful enough: none of us know what tragedies are in store, but we can always choose beauty.

But we have to be looking for it. We have to know what beauty looks like. Often, it is so shocking, so unexpected, we are offended by it. We see a protestor offering free hugs and we're confused. We think about the strong, quiet resilience of those "less fortunate than us." and we take pity instead of acknowledging their worth as a human, let alone the treasure that they've obtained that we will never know.

If there's one thing I could impress upon you this month, it would be to seek and embrace beauty.

Reader's Digest

I decided to do something a little different. Instead of bringing you a book related to my theme, I'm bringing three, each with a different portrait demonstrating the beautiful, broken mess that is our country. Over the course of centuries, we have murdered. We have hated. We have destroyed families and communities. And throughout, we have looked for ways to justify it. When none were found, we legalized it. We have systematically failed to pursue the beauty in another's soul.

But our failure to see this beauty has never extinguished its flame.

Go Set a Watchman

Harper Lee

Greg's Notes:

  • Not exactly a sequel, but instead simply set after To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Deals with race, adulthood, and what it means to 'go home'
  • Are you judging a person based on what you see? Or what you feel? Their words? Or their heart?

Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead

Greg's Notes:

  • Set in mid-19th century Georgia, following two slaves' attempts at freedom on the Underground Railroad
  • Masterfully breaks through the noise of 'us vs them,' blurring the lines drawn by our history books
  • Beautiful and heart-wrenching, creating an adept metaphor for our nation's past

Just Mercy

Bryan Stevenson

Greg's Notes:

  • Part memoir, part exposé, part prosecution
  • Bryan is an attorney who works with death row inmates and shares the story after story about how our justice system is far more about 'system' than 'justice.'
  • One of the most compelling, powerful, difficult books I've read

Around the Web

Poetry in an Era of #BlackLivesMatter

Paul Thomas

Please take the time to read the poems this professor has compiled. They're all linked and they're all beauty-full.

Just for fun:

Ok, so obviously this is the heaviest newsletter I've done. But hopefully, it's equally obvious that true beauty isn't the light, cheap commodity that is being sold to us 30 seconds at a time as we watch 'beautiful' people act out fantastical, scripted lives.

So in an effort to keep things light in the 'just for fun' section, I bring you this not-so-gentle reminder to register to vote. Complete with star-studded promotional video. And in case you aren't sure if you're registered, click here.

Copyright © 2016 First Thoughts, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp