This is either going to be a social Saturday post or a podcast. It depends on Dylan, really. If he’s down to record a podcast, we’ll throw it up. If not, we won’t. That makes the decision easy. Later.
For right now, I’m going to share what I did that was social this past week. Since November of last year, I’ve been looking for people to do things with. I enjoy running, playing basketball, reading, and talking. I’ve found some people and groups to run with, but I haven’t found a dedicated discussion group or a group to play ball with (totally my fault, I haven’t looked).
First, it’s for people who are already associated with another club based on a podcast that is based on religion. Right? Yes! That was a discussion group I tried going to last year that didn’t work out for me, fantastic people notwithstanding.
Second, none of us are reading the same things. The creator of the group wanted us to just go and discuss whatever we were reading and how it is situated on the spiritual spectrum that runs from atheism to fundamentalism. In other words, there’s room for everything.
I went to discuss two books. One of the books I had just finished and it’s about how things spread. It’s concerned, mainly, with marketing, but applicable to ideas as well. It’s called Contagious and it’s by Jonah Berger. In it, he recounts a story about his grandmother and books, so I felt an attachment to the work before I even really got into it.
The main takeaways, for me, were easy enough to tell you: make your ideas practical, use triggers to remind people of them, tell stories, and make sure they can serve as social currency. I discussed these things in light of religion’s changing landscape in a increasingly secularized world, borrowing from Daniel Dennett’s argument that if religions don’t evolve, they don’t survive. If you notice I end each podcast with an attempt to name two everyday items you can come across. If you see a skyscraper, while being pulled over for speeding during your morning commute with your dog in the backseat chasing a balloon, you may think of me or Rounding Third. Whether you’re able to share the stories I tell or they serve any practical value, I don’t know, but Berger has more advice for those of you who want to get the word out about your own ideas. I recommend his book, but don’t expect a reply to your Tweets!
The book I was reading and have since finished is called The Vanishing American Adult and it was written by a sitting United States Senator, Ben Sasse (R) from Nebraska. It’s funny how that “R” changes things. Some of you will immediately reject, or foolishly accept, something because of that “R” or, on the other side, that “D” appearing there. It bothers me, but we’re a nation of fans and followers, certainly not thinkers, so it makes sense. In fact, it’s part of his argument and the reason why his popular works try to hide partisan leanings. I heard about him from a professor who hasn’t listened to my podcast, but does listen to Conversations with Tyler. His ideas appealed to me because a lot of what I read last year dealt with issues like teenage mental health, addiction, overcoming adversity, and problems with our education system and its impact on creativity. I was primed to like his take on these things while rejecting his opinions on others. When I shared the themes of that book, the discussion was still pleasant and I’m glad.
Anyway, I discussed those books with the three lovely ladies who also wanted to discuss books and it was the type of socializing I most love. It reminded me of grad school when we’d discuss Plato and Aristotle in a small seminar. I took a StrengthsFinder exam one time and it helped me to understand why graduate seminars were like heaven to me. My top themes are (their language): learner, achiever, intellection, relator, and deliberative. No wonder I’m not good at being a regular friend.
So my social life this week was concerned with books.
The book club inspired me to review a book and what’s interesting is that the books from this week, the one I reviewed, the one I had finished, and the one I had discussed were three different formats. One was a Kindle edition (Harry Potter), one was a hardcover (Contagious), and one was . . . an audiobook (Vanishing American). Can I say I even read the last one?
The great thing about audiobooks and podcasts, in my opinion, is the feeling like you’re part of a conversation as the narrator reads to you or you hear the dialogue between the interlocutors discussing whatever it is they discuss. Not all social Saturdays will be great, but I hope you have a great day and if you find yourself being social, share a story or two.
Dylan came through and we recorded a podcast last night. I really wanted to get Dylan on the podcast during the Aristotle week because Dylan, out of all of my graduate school friends, reminds me most of Aristotle. That’s because Dylan writes about everything, relishes analysis and distinctions, and has a terribly sharp mind.
In this podcast, we discuss our roots in west Texas (not far west), the need for a better discourse community, how music and words can change you, and what we do with ourselves and our minds. Plus my review of his first book.