Top 8 Books I Read This Year

A few of my friends and I created reading goals for 2019 on the popular website We used our goals to track what we read, share recommendations, and challenge and encourage one another to keep reading all year long! I finished with 52 books read this year – an average of one book per week. If you know me very well, you know that there are few things I love more in the world than books. If you are reading this post then maybe you can relate. Hopefully my list can help you find some good reading material for 2020, and I would love it if you could return the favor in the comments to help me build MY list for the upcoming year! 

name of the wind

Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss): My favorite book I read all year. The first of a trilogy, this fantasy novel swept me away from page one. I enjoyed every minute I spent with Kvothe at the University and exploring the magical world of Temerant. I check Rothfuss’s website weekly in anticipation of the release date of the third and final book. Highly recommend for any adult who enjoys fantasy. 

the nightingale

The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah): The Nightingale drops you right in the middle of France during Nazi occupation at the beginnings of World War II. The story follows two sisters; one sister trying to win the war and save the world, the other doing whatever it takes to keep her family alive. This novel was a rollercoaster on my emotions –  the first book to make me cry since Dobby died in the Harry Potter finale. Highly recommend for fans of historical WWII fiction.


Beartown (Fredrick Backman): If you had told me that one of my favorite books of the year would be about a podunk town up north and its youth hockey team I would have told you you’re crazy, but this book is a work of art. You quickly get sucked into the drama of Beartown and fall in love with a few characters, and hate a few others. Benji might be one of my favorite literary characters of all time. Please give this book a chance.  

Ninth house

Ninth House (Leigh Bardugo): Bardugo does it again. My favorite YA fantasy author crushes it in her adult novel debut with exquisite worldbuilding and well timed intrigue. The story follows the dark arts of the secret societies of Yale University, and one girl’s attempt to solve a murder while avoiding her own. Full of magic and mystery, you might want to read this book with the lights on. 


Reframation (Alan Hirsch and Mark Nelson): No book changed my worldview more in 2019 than this one. Reframation is a call to people of faith, primarily Christians, to “reframe” and “reenchant” our perception of God. It’s a call to trade in our cynicism and formulaic gospel for one full of mystery, imagination, and paradox. This book articulates my hopes for the Church moving forward. I think I underlined and highlighted more in this book than in any other.

learning to walk in the dark

Learning to Walk in the Dark (Barbara Brown Taylor): This book explores the premise of darkness, and in only a way Barbara Brown Taylor can, shows us how to find spirituality in times when we might not have all the answers. “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light,” she says. This book challenges people of faith to not run from dark times, but embrace them, because as Scripture shows us – God is there. This is the shortest book on my top 8 list, and could be read in a weekend. 

the sun does shine

The Sun Does Shine (Anthony Ray Hinton): Read this book with my book club crew, and boy was I glad I had a few friends who could experience the same amazement I felt while reading Anthony Ray Hinton’s story of living for 40 years as an innocent man on death row. This story is not a political one, but rather is a story of tragedy, perseverance, faith, hope, love, struggle, redemption, and forgiveness. Everyone should read this book.

liturgy of the ordinary

Liturgy of the Ordinary (Tish Warren Harrison): This book is hard to describe in a few sentences, and it’s tagline “sacred practices in everyday life” just doesn’t do it justice. It is a spiritual memoir of sorts, full of wisdom, that opens new doors (and old doors) that we can walk through to encounter God more often and more authentically. The most “mundane” practices can often be the ones that lead us down the path of holiness and connection with God. A great devotional type read to highlight and refer back to. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Scythe (Neal Shusterman)
  • Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens)
  • Educated (Tara Westover)
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (Scott Lynch)


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What I’ve been reading lately! (WIBRL) July 2018 Edition


I always have a book nearby. Tucked in my backpack, in the passenger seat of my car, crammed in my back pocket. I LOVE to read. It’s how I relax, it’s how I have fun, it’s the primary way I learn. Books have become the primary way my wife and I decorate our house (much to her chagrin).  I am just a sucker for a great story. (Especially a good trilogy! FYI I am always open to good recommendations.)

I have been wanting to start up up a monthly blog post that recaps what I’ve been reading lately, so this will be the first of many! It will include a brief reflection on each piece, as well as give each book a grade on a scale of 1 to 10! I’m hoping it will be informative AND entertaining.


  1. Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes Book #3) by Sabaa Tahir
  2. Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron Book #1) by Ashley Poston
  3. Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans


reaper at gates cover

Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes Book #3) by Sabaa Tahir

Genre: YA fiction

If you are a fan of YA fiction and haven’t already devoured the first three books in the Ember in the Ashes series then you need to rethink what you are doing with your life. Tahir’s first two installments were masterpieces, but book three launched this series into my upper echelon of YA fantasy. This ruthless tale is full of secret powers, betrayal, narrow escapes, meddling ghosts, unbreakable steel, rebellion, and heartbreak. Plus, men and women alike will fall in love with the bombshell that is Laia of Serra.

WIBRL rating: 9/10 – read ASAP before the movie comes out!

Time elapsed from first page to final page: 4 days


heart of iron book cover

Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron Book #1) by Ashley Poston

Genre: YA fiction

Grabbed this book at the bookstore because the cover design and teaser on the inside flap sounded intriguing. When I got home, I found that I had already bought this book a few weeks before for the same exact reason. I took that as a sign from God, and chose this book to be my vacation read and boy am I happy that I did. I read a ton of YA fiction but this book felt so UNIQUE! It had a bit of a star wars meets Divergent feel, with a 21st century flavor. In hindsight, I probably should have been able to make some predictions as to what was going to happen, but during the moment and flow of reading I was just putty in the author’s hands. The character “D09” steals the show!

WIBRL rating: 8/10 – you will NOT be disappointed!

Time elapsed from first page to final page: 7 days


inspired rachel held evans book cover

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans

Genre: Creative Non-Fiction

This is a book that needed to be written. It comes from a woman who grew up in a conservative Christian home and conservative Christian church in rural Tennessee, and it’s a book about the Bible. It addresses many of the questions and controversies that arise for so many of us who love the Bible, but at the same time are willing to acknowledge its flaws, intricacies, and damage it has caused so many people across the globe. And what does she discover? The Bible still holds up to scrutiny. RHE shows us that even when we doubt, wrestle, and play devil’s advocate with some of the Bible’s most controversial or contradictory stories and events, truth still emerges. And oftentimes, the truth that you find is more beautiful then what you leave behind.

WIBRL rating: 8/10 – a must read for Christians or people at odds with Scripture

Time elapsed from first page to final page: 7 days


If you have read any of these books, let me know what YOU thought in the comments below! Also, if you have any book recommendations I am all ears!



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Overcoming the Pains of Perfectionism (And an update on my novel…)

The idea of creating a novel first crept into my mind one scorching hot day in my apartment in the rural town of Vidrare, Bulgaria 7 years ago. When you are free of electronics, have no car, and must go to the local grocery store to get any sort of air conditioning – your imagination has plenty of room to wander. A story flooded my thoughts, and I began hastily jotting down notes in a small black journal that I kept by my bed. I dreamed up characters, exciting twists and turns, even wrote a few sample paragraphs. Believe it or not, one of the first few paragraphs of the prologue of my novel was written that summer in Eastern Europe.

Over the next few years I did a lot of reading, a lot of googling, a lot of research, and a lot of bad sentence writing. I found some great coaches to help me improve: Stephen King, G.K. Chesterton, Flannery O’Connor, John Truby, Jake Resor, and a few others. I gleaned wisdom from all their words and voices, but none hit as close to home as the words of Anne Lamott. I encourage all humans to read the works of Anne Lamott, but I specifically encourage all writers to read Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird.

An author friend told me that only 3% of writers ever actually finish a complete first draft. After almost 7 years, my first draft is officially complete. Yes, celebration is in order, but it wasn’t easy. The hardest part of finishing the first draft of my novel was the constant thought in the back of my mind…“This book sucks.”

I knew my characters weren’t fully developed, my dialogue sounded elementary, and I kept switching back and forth from past and present tense. The perfectionism was crippling.

The longing for people to enjoy what I wrote was slowly losing the battle to the fear that people might…not. Perfectionism was holding me back.

Lamott articulates this point beautifully, while relating it to writing:

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping -stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

Besides, perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force. Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground— you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it’s going to get. Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.”


Perfectionism has served as a stumbling block for me in so many areas of my life; my schooling, my job, my relationships, my dreams. Finishing the first draft of my novel and starting the process towards publication is just one way I am taking a stand and moving forward.

Statements are being made. I am okay with you seeing my unfinished product. I am okay with hearing feedback and with making edits and changes. I am okay with criticism. I’ll even be okay if someone tells me that some parts really suck.

My hope is that through this writing process, the breakthroughs I have with my novel will begin to mirror breakthroughs I have in my own life. To be more okay with my family, friends, and co-workers seeing me as the unfinished product I am. To be more okay with getting tough feedback from my bosses, my spouse, and my close friends. To be more okay with just being and not always having to prove.

Perfectionism is a direct assault against gratitude, humility, and vulnerability. In the story that is my life, those are three characteristics I want to be defined by. If that’s the case, it’s time to say goodbye to perfectionism.

Join me!

Daniel Smith

P.S. – I am going to blog more. I will also be posting snippets of my novel on this blog. If you are interested, please subscribe so I can keep track!

***TLDR (too long didn’t read): Through much toil and turmoil I have successfully completed draft one of my novel. Typing the words “THE END” was a glorious feeling. Now the real work begins! Oh, and perfectionism is bad.***

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Why is Lebron James so Polarizing?

Help me out people…

Polarize – to divide into sharply opposing factions (

There are quite a few polarizing athletes who have dominated the sports scene over the last decade. Some of them have been among the best at what they do (i.e. Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Floyd Mayweather, Bryce Harper), while others leaned more towards mediocre (Tim Tebow, Colin Kaepernick). Lebron James is also on this list… but he shouldn’t be.

I’m not here to argue Lebron’s greatness. I will continue to let his game speak for itself. But what I still can’t wrap my head around is why he is among the most polarizing athletes of this current era. All of the other names I mentioned make sense:

  • Tiger Woods came onto the golf scene fist pumping, talking trash, and destroying all of the household names. This is an easy way to make enemies. Combine this with his infidelity off the course, and you have someone that most will either love or hate.
  • Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the greatest coach and quarterback combo of all time. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are documented cheaters. Those two things don’t sit well with most sports fans.
  • Floyd “Money” Mayweather has let his violence in the boxing ring spill over into his living room. His unblemished record is not enough to avoid the negative attention his partying lifestyle brings with it.
  • Bryce Harper is the young phenom who has ruffled the feathers of the old baseball traditionalists since he broke into the league. His polarization seems to increase along with his slugging percentage. He creates drama with every bat flip, pitcher stare down, and controversial tweet.
  • Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick each broke one of the “cardinal rules” of society: don’t mix faith and/or politics into your sports. Each of these two players had magical runs, but quickly found themselves out of the NFL.

I understand why all of the athletes above are polarizing for one reason or another. I DON’T understand why the same is true of Lebron. If you are one of those who find yourself in the “I hate Lebron” camp, please help me understand. But before you help me understand, read what I have to say.

  • People most often tell me that they hate Lebron because of “The Decision” (For those who don’t know, this refers to the event back in 2010 when Lebron nationally televised his announcement that he was leaving the Cavaliers to “take his talents” to Miami). I understand that he could have went about it in a more humble way, and I think even Lebron in hindsight would have done it a bit differently. But you can’t tell me he should have stayed in Cleveland with that ragtag roster, and you also can’t take away the fact that the event raised millions for local Boys and Girls Clubs in the area.
  • Another reason people seem to hate Lebron is because “Lebron created the super team” when he joined DWade and Bosh in Miami. This is a completely false narrative. People act like “super teams” was a new phenomenon. You are telling me that Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy wasn’t a stacked team? What about MJ, Scottie, and Rodman? All three hall of famers. In 2008 Lebron got knocked out of the playoffs by the Celtics “Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett almost a year before he left to join Miami. It’s wrong to put the creation of the super team on Lebron.
  • The other most used reason why people hate Lebron is that he complains to the refs and is a “cry baby” and a “drama queen”. A few thoughts on this. If you have watched the NBA lately you will see that ALL PLAYERS whine and cry to the refs. It has become an extremely unfortunate but routine part of the game today. I hate it, but all players do it. As for the drama that comes along with Lebron, I will just say this: for someone who has been heralded as “The Chosen One” by sports media since he was 16, Lebron has handled himself with more class that most anyone else would under the bizarre circumstances. I wish Michael Jordan had lived during the current social media era that we live in today, and seen how he would have handled it.

Final thoughts:

Lebron has never been in trouble off the court. He married his high school sweetheart. He loves his kids, and attends their games when he can. He speaks out for social issues in which he sees injustice. He doesn’t really talk that much trash, or say controversial things to opponents or the media. He went BACK to Cleveland (to Cleveland people!) to help bring his hometown their first championship in professional sports. He is loyal to his friends, and is devoted philanthropist. He loves to pass the ball to his teammates. Now I sound like a Lebron James butt kisser, so I am going to stop writing and just post this heartwarming video of Lebron hugging a fan who hits a half court shot to win money. For those who enjoy the game of basketball, no matter what side of the Lebron camp you reside on, there is no denying the game will dearly miss him when his run comes to an end. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts!


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Real Talk Radio Podcast #1 (guest interview with Kyle Smith)

Intro Sports Podcast where Kyle and I  talk NFL, NBA, MLB, and much much more!

Hope you enjoy!

Daniel Smith

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March Madness Podcast 3/17/18 (guest interview with Dan Nicholas)

I am dabbling with a sports podcast! Hope you enjoy, and please leave feedback.

Episode #2: (Talking March Madness with Dan Nicholas 3/15/18)



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Pastors and Laypeople alike: Here is my Dream for the future of the Local Church.

We as the local church need more diversity and less homogeneity.

The population in the local church needs to be representative of the demographic of the surrounding community. We need to welcome and embrace more ethnic, racial, economic, and sexual diversity. We need to actively break down our biases and seek out those different than us. Focus groups, intentional ministries, and book studies are all ways we can start to create a more diverse environment in our local churches.

We as the local church need more confession, and less masquerading

One of the biggest problems in the church isn’t the weaknesses of God’s people, its feigning and faking of strengths. In a world where we hide behind our perfect social media profiles, we crave more humanness and imperfection. Authenticity starts with the pastor, and is spread by courageous laypeople willing to be honest and real. Take a risk and share your brokenness with others, and watch what God can do.

We as the local church need to be less American, and more Christian.

Christianity existed for around 1700 years before “America” as we know it was beginning to develop, but over the last two centuries the church’s love for its nation has shifted into idolatry. Your church is not a mouthpiece for your political party, nor is it the proper place to sing ‘America the beautiful’. We pledge allegiance first and foremost to a Kingdom that is not of this world.

We as the local church need to value discipleship more than growth in numbers.

Throughout our churches there are children, teenagers, adults, men and women alike, who are going unnoticed and unnurtured. As our numbers grow, our discipleship wanes. How cool would it be if church leaders made a decision to split their churches when numbers get to a certain threshold? This will not only provide a healthier balance in discipleship, but also give churches a chance to make “plants” in other neighborhoods.

We as the local church need to be less robotic, and become more intentional.

It’s time to stop going through the motions with both our worship and our ministries. We plan everything down to the last detail, trying to make sure everything goes off without a hitch, and in turn end up putting a harness on the Holy Spirit. Leave room for the Spirit to work. Take risks. Try new things in worship.

We as the local church need to preach less, and listen more.

Jesus was an amazing preacher; the Sermon on the Mount, parable after parable in Jerusalem, rebuking the Pharisees. But Jesus was also an amazing listener. Jesus heard the woman at the well, he empathized with the woman caught in adultery, he listened and engaged with his disciples, he heard and showed mercy to the thief being crucified next to him. We need to remember that we are not God, but we do have the power to point people to Him.

We as the local church need more humility, and less defensive attitudes.

I am tiring of the constant debates between Christians and the rest of the world. I am even more tired of the constant debates between Christians and other Christians. We have missed the point. Only through a posture of humility and submission can we approach the throne. What does the church gain from trampling over others to make sure they are “right”?

We as the local church need to leave consumerism, and run towards asceticism.

We are all “born consumers,” for we must consume to live: we must eat and drink, clothe ourselves, and find shelter. Unfortunately, it seems most of us now live, to CONSUME. Our wants have surpassed the needs of others. Comfort in this life has become our idol, and we don’t know how to tell ourselves “no”. We are good at justifying our levels of consumption. The spiritual act of the ‘fast’ must return! Start by fasting from your cell phone, fasting from your TV, fasting from a meal, or fasting from alcohol. If we want to take up our cross and follow Jesus, we must first learn to deny ourselves.

We as the local church need to acknowledge our mistakes and take responsibility for the damage we have done in the lives of so many who have been wronged by the church.

The people who make up the Church are far from perfect, and it’s time we own it. We have a bloody, greedy, nationalistic, racist, and perverted history. Many people have been extremely hurt by the place and people they were told they could trust. These wounds can still heal if we are intentional about it. Let’s start by saying “I’m sorry” to any who need to hear it.

We as the local church need a more open door policy within the community.

I’m tired of the lights being off in our churches apart from Sundays and Wednesdays. The church should be a safe haven for any and all who call that local community home. My dream is that the local church is a holy space not just for its worshipping congregation, but for all who wander through. Community cooking classes in church kitchens, weekly sports leagues on church grounds, after school tutoring in Sunday school classrooms, consignment sales in gym, playground access outside. Options to pursue are endless.

We as the local church need a better way to financially support ourselves; how about partnering with businesses who can rent out our space which will both bring people to our campus as well as help keep the bills paid.

Churches need money to keep their doors open and their ministries alive. That being said, too often do churches and church leadership spend valuable time on how to fundraise or come up with necessary financial support. The “finance” conversation takes away from discipleship opportunities and can even cause people in the church to put their guard up. This is often an impossible task with smaller congregations, or in lower income communities. I think the answer for the local church in the approaching future is to rent out their space to local businesses and events as a stable supportive income. I know that God will provide, but local churches can help themselves and use the resources already in the community.

We as the local church need more small group prayer and personal check-ins and accountability during Sunday morning service. Everyone who walks in the door on any given Sunday should feel heard and cared for. When did Sunday morning service become the most disconnected day of the week for church members?

It is my prayer that Sunday morning worship become less of a show that involves a few, and more of an experience that everyone takes a part of. It is far too common to attend a church service without ever making a personal connection with anyone. Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up, get in the car and drive home. We need to restructure our Sunday morning worship to include more personal interaction. “Turn and greet those around you” is not enough.

We as the local church need pastors who are less theologically precise, and are more pastoral.

Too many of our pastors hold their theological, biblical, and hermeneutical expertise on a higher pedestal than their other pastoral duties. Pastors need to focus more on loving and restoring their local communities, counseling and/or grieving with those in need, building healthy and vibrant discipleship within in their church body, and other in-house operations. I do want my pastors to be well versed in Scripture and have a strong theological background, but whether or not they know Greek and Hebrew should not be near the top of our lists.

We as the local church need less hierarchy in its politics, and more unity.

Our churches seem to look more and more like our governments, and I don’t know if that is for the best. We are all aware of what happens when too much power is allotted to someone, even if that person has all the right intentions. The gospel is a playing field leveler, and the local church should operate within this paradigm. How we do this, however, is something I would love to collaborate and brainstorm more.

We as the local church need more scripture memorization and passion for the Word, and less bible verse tattoos.

The argument over inerrancy of scripture has caused the church as a whole to lose their reverence and love for the living Word of God. There is a negative stigma with the Bible that needs to be addressed head on. Secular wisdom literature is flying off the shelves, but if you mention Scripture, you can almost visibly see walls go up with the people you are with. Things get uncomfortable. We need a revival of what the whole of scripture tells us; the story of a God and his creation living together along the journey of reconciliation and love.

We as the local church need more unity with surrounding churches, and less competition.

I understand the need for denominations. Well, maybe not completely, but I’m not calling to abolish them. The question we need to ask ourselves is when did the “Church” become the “churches”?  We need to realize that we all have the same mission (we do, don’t we?), and start collaborating and working together to make differences in our local communities. In the words of Denzel Washington, “If we don’t come together, right here on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed.”

We as the local church should focus less on mission statements, and more on living out our mission.

The mission of the church will be made known by the lives of its participants. Don’t worry about crafting the perfect church bulletin or road sign. What we value will be made known by where we spend our time and money, what the gospel means to us will be made known through our humility and ability to forgive, and what we stand for will be made known through our ministry of reconciliation and love within our communities.

We as the local church need to remove the idol of self-preservation: stop asking “How can we survive this recession?” and start asking “What is God calling us to today?”

What is God calling you to today? I hope you take the time to listen.



***** If you took the time to read this entire post, please know all of my words come humbly from someone who loves the local church, and will spend the rest of my life trying to be a faithful part of whatever church I call home. In a world so divided and corrupted, I put my hope and trust in the Holy Spirit and the vessel that is the people of the local church. *****

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Lebron or Jordan – You Decide

lebron vs jordan


I love this discussion, and I want nothing more than for this to bring out both MJ and Lebron homers alike to take things up a notch. I will admit…I have watched 90% of any meaningful game Lebron James has played in, but only around 30% of “His Airness”. That being said, Youtube has helped me catch up quite a bit over the last few years and I feel confident in my ability to compare the two.

I am throwing out statistics for this discussion, especially statistics that depend more on teammates and match-ups than who is the “better player”. That’s what this is all about right? How can we “ONLY” use titles (a team based stat) when determining who is the better player? Below are 18 categories that I believe determine how good of a basketball player a person is. Please tell me in the comments which categories you agree with, and those you do not!


Overall Scorer


3 Point Shooting




Paint Scoring


Free Throw Shooting


Scoring Efficiency








Attacking the Paint






1 on 1 Defender


Team Defender










18 total categories: 

  • Lebron with 10
  • Jordan with 8


Argument for Lebron: Lebron is one of the best passers this game has ever seen, elevating teammates to their highest potential. Lebron is also a better rebounder than Jordan. Though Jordan is the better OVERALL scorer, Lebron is better at 3 point shooting, scoring efficiency, and attacking the paint. Lebron can guard all 5 positions, and is a dominant and game altering force on the defensive end. Lebron can transform any starting 5 into a championship contender.

Argument for Jordan: Jordan is clearly the better overall scorer or the two, though one could make an argument as to his efficiency in doing so. Jordan is the king of mid-range, as well as one of the best finishers at the rim the game has ever seen. Jordan is the better free throw shooter. There is no doubt that if the game is on the line and your team needs a bucket, there is no doubt you would rather MJ have the ball during those final seconds. Jordan was both a tenacious on AND off ball defender, and could lock up any guard he faced.

My official vote: First 3 quarters of a game – Lebron. 4th quarter – Jordan. Too close to call.

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Blog Post I Thought I Would Never Write: ‘The Bachelorette’ Debrief


            I want to start this blog by saying that I am one of the most vehement critics of the ABC cultural phenomenon that is the Bachelor(ette) franchise. The perverted premise causes me to cringe, and the drama that it creates disgusts and appalls me at every turn. BUT – and I want to say this now before I lose any readers who do enjoy watching the show – this blog post will NOT be a bash of the series and everything it stands for, and everyone involved in its production. That would just feel too simple…even if it would feel really good to write. Instead, I will try — in one page or less as usual – to hit on the good, the bad, and the ugly… the highlights and lowlights that get us all, myself included, so hot and bothered about the show that has taken over pop culture.

         I have only watched one episode of the show in my entire life, and it just so happened to be an episode in the current season of the Bachelorette that just ended. For any big fans out there curious about which one I watched, it was the episode where JoJo cuddled with a horse, then later that night had another cuddle party on a king size bed with the four remaining escorts. But here is the thing… I KNEW how ridiculous it was while I was watching. Anger was boiling up inside me. But I was hooked. For 35-40 minutes I had to fight to keep myself from blurting out my feelings, and I could even feel the sweat forming on my palms when JoJo told one of the chubbier hunky guys that she didn’t love him. What was happening to me?! Did I really just watch the Bachelorette with my wife, her friend, and my mother in law?!

            It just pains me that a show can become so popular when it is founded on the crushing heart break of other human beings. The way that it capitalizes on broken humanity’s need to be loved, is unforgivable. It’s degrading to both women and men. But there is no denying, it sells and people watch it. So, I guess I can’t really blame the show or ABC.

                 But what I CAN do is be upset at all of these men and women who actually sign up for this stuff willingly! I will give a break to those poor unsuspecting folks on season one, but ever since then, there is no excuse for anyone who signs up. I mean don’t get me wrong, I would do it just to travel the world and eat really good food for a few weeks. But some of these people actually think they are going to find love. Not even just love, but genuine, healthy, and authentic lifetime companionship type of love. I just want to grab their heads and shake them and scream, “Hello!! Of course you are falling in love with her when every hour you spend together involves plush room service and rosepetals and exotic beaches and a lot of white wine!” And then there’s this.  “Don’t you know she just made out with the other dude in the hot tub 15 minutes ago!”

                 I mean, I used to have to try really hard not to judge people who watch the show. But the more I investigate, the more clearly I see the truth… EVERYONE watches it. Doctors, lawyers, pastors, teachers, business owners, retail clerks, high school students, grandparents, republicans, democrats, etc. If it is a people group with a name, someone involved watches the Bachelor. But surely not the highly educated, and definitely not feminists right? Wrong. I had a friend at Vanderbilt tell me that he knows a group of women — some of the staunchest feminists he has ever encountered, many of who have earned Ph.D’s – and they all watch it religiously.

             One page could never do this topic justice, but maybe it will help spark some discussion. What is it about this show that crosses over all boundaries and invades every nook and cranny of our culture? I may never fully understand it, but I will no longer underestimate its power. I may forever shake my head at the romantic confusion it stirs in the hearts of millions, but I will also sneakily watch bits every now and then and peruse twitter after big season finales. I will never approve of the Bachelor franchise, but I have at least grown to respect it.


      To wrap things up, I asked many people I know who are on both sides of this debate to sum up their feelings on the show in one sentence or less. Below are some of these responses, grouped in either the “HATE” or the “LOVE” column.  (No surprises, there weren’t many who fell somewhere in the middle.)


“I love the Bachelor & Bachelorette series because its fake AND real, awful AND wonderful, manipulation AND nature, intimacy AND lust, misogynistic AND feminist, pain AND beauty, gritty AND a bit too easy at times – its human behavior at its best and worst at the same time.”

“The Bachelor(ette) is a fascinating and curious reflection of our culture and obsession with the pursuit of love – what many people see as the ultimate life fulfillment. It’s great television.

“It’s a social thing for me; I love to watch it with people!”

“The clothes, the exotic destinations, the drama, the hotties… what more do you need?!”



“The Bachelorette provides a plastic version of love and intimacy that sets young people up with the wrong idea of what those things look like in the real world.”

“The Bachelor/ette is to love and emotion what the NFL is to players’ brains.”

“Haha wow, like, it just really lowers my faith in humanity anytime I think about it.”

“Rigged, the whole thing is rigged.”

“The show literally makes you dumber by simply watching it. The superficiality of the pursuit portrayed in the show is what is so mind-boggling and even troubling about it. How does it infect our perception of what our real life relationships should look like?”


That’s all folks. Please feel free to comment below to stir up more discussion. If you want to read a few more links on the subject, here you go!

Links to explore for further Bachelor(ette) commentary:

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A Tim Duncan Tribute and my All Time Starting 5 (in one page or less)

Tim Duncan. The Big Fundamental. World Champion. MVP.

One of three players to win the Wooden Award, NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA MVP, NBA Finals MVP and NBA All-Star Game MVP. The only other two? #23 and #33. Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.

Dude was a monster! An unstoppable force on both ends of the floor. But he will NEVER be remembered in the same way that MJ, or Magic, or Larry will be.

And that is a tragedy. And is also the main reason I am writing this short blog. #21 will always be a legend in my book.

It’s his humility that sets him apart. His professionalism. His love of the process, the hard work. His drive to win. A lead by example man who so often flew under the radar for a small market team. But he brought his team of 19 years count’em…one-two-three-four-five championships.

I thought about quoting stats. I could use the numbers to prove his dominance. But I don’t think Duncan really cares about the numbers. Or the fame. He would give credit to his teammates, his coach, his Spurs family. More proof that Tim Duncan is one of a kind. 

His retirement announcement fits him perfectly. No year long celebrations. No city by city nation tour. No big media specials. Just a routine business statement, letting us know he is hanging ’em up.

Love this quote from a a blog by Shea Serrano, a San Antonio native: “Duncan spent his whole career trying to win. So that’s how I thought his career should end. I wanted him to try to win and try to win and try to win and then finally not be able to. And that’s where we are right now. He died on his shield in the 2016 playoffs. It’s exactly the right thing.”

Alright, time for my all time starting five.

This is one of my favorite NBA discussions to have, so please feel free to post your all time starting five in the comments section below!!!

PG     Allen Iverson

SG     Michael Jordan

SF     Lebron James

PF     Tim Duncan

C       Shaquille O’Neal

Ill put money on my squad over any team you bring at us. See ya at the courts.


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