4 min read

A Cradle Of Woodworks And Icebergs

A Cradle Of Woodworks And Icebergs
Photo by Torsten Dederichs / Unsplash

Welcome to the June 2024 edition of...
What I'm My Friends Are Into, What I'm My Friends Are Up To!

Good morning Starshine, the earth says 'Hello!'

Yep, it's been one of those months.

I'm writing to you from a hotel in Florence, South Carolina. This is it, we're moving. Right now! As I type this! Three kids, two cats, a couple of tired adults, and too much stuff in one SUV on a 3-day trek from Florida to Maryland.

I'm going to take a little break this month to tell you about a few of my friends for a change and what they're into and up to, although I had some leftover words from last month's newsletter about a giant history book I recently read, so I tacked that on at the end for you masochists out there.

So without further ado...

What Two Of My Friends Are Up To

  • Dusty and I go way back. He is one of the most stand-up, reliable, level-headed, and wisest people I've ever had the honor to know and spend time with. He used to live in Morocco with his wife and five daughters (yes, you read that right) and now lives in his home state of Montana.

    I don't frequent Facebook very often, so I only just learned about him making really cool stuff out of wood and listing it on Facebook. (You can click that link or search Dar Smith Custom Woodworks.)

    Check out what he's been making. Charcuterie boards to birdhouses to beautiful custom furniture—it's amazing stuff! I like the idea of having things in my home that are handmade and built to last a really long time, and I like trying projects like this myself, but I am nowhere near Dusty's skill level (yet).

    Great work, Dusty! I'm hoping to see your creations (and you) in real life one of these days!
  • Dan is a Massachusetts folk singer I've known around 15 years. He is the real deal, someone who is passionate about and dedicated to his art, without the desperation for fame and fortune that plagues some artists. He has a 9-to-5 job he loves, an amazing family, talented musical collaborators, and a wide-but-also-deep (isn't that the trick) circle of friends. He is the embodiment of Stephen King's great line,

    'Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.'

    This year, Dan embarked on a new album and a new adventure called The Iceberg. He is obsessed with cold places, and one of the last great cold places for him is the island of Greenland (which is, coincidentally, the setting for my Skytrails series). So he launched a Kickstarter to record, produce, and distribute the album and it went off like a rocket ship! He should be on a Newfoundland trip as this email goes out to try and spot an iceberg, and then he'll be going to Greenland later this summer as part of the album and the adventure.

    You did it, Dan! Bring me back some of that permafrost :)

What Two Of My Friends Are Into

  • I asked two friends, Chris and Darius, separately if they had read anything especially good lately which I could talk about in this update. They are both audiobook devourers, especially fantasy, and besides being two of my closest friends in the whole wide world, they are also two of the friends I look to to keep up with the latest great novels and fiction writers, since I have such a hard time getting into fiction these days.

    I was genuinely surprised when they both gave me the same, non-Brandon Sanderson answer.

    Both of them told me the best series they had read recently, and couldn't wait until enough time had passed to read again, was the Cradle series by Will Wight. They both praised it as highly as I've heard them praise anything, which, in Darius's case especially, is saying something.

And, As Promised, A Bonus(?) From Me...

  • Dominion by Tom Holland—I listened to the audiobook version of this hefty non-fiction book in short bursts between podcasts and music.

    Described as 'a broad history of the influence of Christianity on the world, focusing on its impact on morality,' it really does seem like Tom Holland tried to capture the entire essence of Christian history in one book.

    I heard interviews with Holland on The Surprising Rebirth Of Belief In God podcast (mentioned in a previous update) where he talked about his personal discovery from learning more and more about the history of the West that, to his surprise, he was not a product of Greco-Roman culture and ideology as he had long assumed. Even though he was not a Christian himself, he realized the only way he could define his own culture or principles or ideology was... Christian.

    So he set about writing a history of Christianity and the ways it has influenced the ancient and modern world.

    I've read church history and I learned world history from a Christian curriculum in high school, but I have not heard someone who proclaimed themselves non-Christian so praise the beneficial influences of Christianity on society.

    Usually there is an agenda—hey kids, here's why we Christians are right about everything and everyone else is wrong about it. Or hey everyone, Christians have perpetrated many of the worst humanitarian crimes in the last 2,000 years.

    Obviously, Christianity is a belief held by humans, and as such it has been abused almost since its inception and certainly since its mainstream-ification for greed, power, control, fame, fear, hate, lust—the same motivators for most of history's most destructive actions.

    The more I learn about history, though, the more I realize that history was going to history the way it historied no matter how much we might think it should've historied differently.

    That might sound (if you can even make sense of it) like I am a fatalist and believe things will happen however they're going to happen no matter what we do or don't do.

    I'm definitely not.

    I believe we have incredible freedom to create the world we want to live in, more freedom than most people, including me, are willing to accept, actually.

    But we are all of us products of what's come before us, whether we know anything about history or not.

    So, in that sense, I believe Christianity helped history to history as well as history could've historied with humans doing the historying.

That's it for this month. Thanks for reading!
Until next time...
live a little, or—why not?—live a whole lot.