What’s so good about today anyway?

Issue #67

Hello! This week I start with a reflection of what, for me, makes ‘Good Friday’ good. There’s the usual selection of articles I’ve enjoyed from around the web. And I include a few notes on Karamo Brown’s new audiobook. Enjoy 😊 –Sam

First thoughts

Today is known around the world as ‘Good Friday’? It’s a religious day in the Christian calendar where we remember the brutal murder of an innocent man known as Jesus of Nazareth. What’s so good about that?

And, if you don’t even believe in God or buy into religion, is there any relevance at all? Isn’t it just a meaningless religious festival that can be ignored?

Long-time readers know that I identify as Christian, even if there’s much about that label that I reject. I’ve spent my whole life listening to reasons why Jesus died. These range from ‘overthrowing Satan’, to ‘satisfying God’s wrath’, to ‘taking away humanity’s sins’. 

I want to focus today though not on these theological ideas and simply on the human story.

Jesus is a historical figure. He walked on our earth. He was a real person. He took on the political and religious leaders of his day, standing up for the common person. He came, in his own words, ‘that you may have life, and life to the full.’ 

He lived a life that sought to bring fuller life to the masses. He lived a selfless life. It wasn’t about him. His love for humanity meant there was nothing he wouldn’t do to help others. His words and deeds brought hope. They set people on a path to freedom and wholeness. He took on the oppressors and, inevitably, that is what set him on the path to his brutal death.

And that’s my point. Regardless of what theological meanings there may be to the cross and death of Jesus, the historical story is powerful and moving and provocative in its own right. 

This was a man who so believed in what he was doing that he was prepared to die for it. This was a man who so loved the people who he saw oppressed by religious and political leaders that he was prepared to pay any price to help and deliver them.

This is what love looks like. Love is evidenced by sacrifice. 

Has there ever been a greater showing of love?

And, I would argue, if we were to explore the theological, the true meaning of the cross would also end up at the same place: love.

That, for me, is what makes Good Friday so good. It is a reminder of what love – true love – looks like.

Insightful articles

1. How disconnection boosts your creativity

‘Creativity is about connection—you must be connected to others in order to be inspired and share your own work—but it is also about disconnection. You must retreat from the world long enough to think, practice your art, and bring forth something worth sharing with others. You must play a little hide-and-seek in order to produce something worth being found.’
Austin Kleon, Thrive Global

2. To unlock creativity, you need to step away

Fascinating piece of research on how to foster creative ideas and the role of incentives.
Molly Dannenmaier, Futurity

3. Why you procrastinate (it has nothing to do with self-control)

It turns out that procrastination is less to do with laziness and more to do with self-harm. It is – though I’m not sure knowing this helps – essentially irrational.
Charlotte Lieberman, The New York Times

4. Digital minimalism and God (Or, is social media undermining religion)

‘Courage, reassurance, revelation: these require a quiet mind capable of apophatic insight. One of the unintentional consequences of innovating an algorithmically-optimized, always-present source of attention-snagging noise is that this quiet disappears.’
Cal Newport, blog post

Book notes

Karamo: My story of embracing purpose, healing, and hope

Karamo Brown

I deliberately didn't take many books away with me on my recent two week holiday to Los Angeles. Strange as it sounds, I wanted a bit of a break from reading. That said, I did download one audiobook for my trip. And that was Karamo Brown’s new memoir. 

Karamo Brown is one of the ‘fab five’ presenters of the hit Netflix show ‘Queer Eye’. Rachel and I love this show. And Karamo’s role, focussing on inner change in people’s lives has resonated strongly. 

I love the work each episode does in giving people a whole-life makeover. And Karamo, honing in on the inner world, is at the heart of making sure that the change lasts. 

Getting to delve into his life story through this memoir has been a treat. His story is moving and affecting. He's been through some serious challenges! Yet, through it all, you can't help but sense how helping others is hard-wired into who he is. It's like he was born to help people thrive in life. 

The subtitle of the book implies that it's about him finding purpose, healing, and hope. But the beauty and power of his story is the invitation to make it our story. His mission, it seems, is to help the rest of us find our purpose, healing, and hope. 

That's what makes the memoir so compelling. He beckons us to join the journey of personal transformation. To find and pursue our own dreams. I was inspired.