I picked up a book the other day called “Manvotionals” by Brett & Kate McKay. Those are the folks who write The Art of Manliness blog. I learned about that blog from my buddy, Josh, and every now and then I will pick up something incredibly profound from it.

Since I’m well on my way to becoming a father, I thought I would pick up this book and really study on the things in it. I’m going to be responisble for raising another man in this world and I want to make sure that I exemplify the values that man should live by. It sounds pretty high and mighty, but it’s really not. It’s really about humbly taking on the task of being the man I should be. It’s about character and actions.

Anyway, there have been several passages in this book that really grabbed my attention. Some of them are quotes, and some are lengthy stories. This morning, a short paragraph got my attention and I’ve decided to paste it here so I can come back someday and remember what was so special about it.

The Hunter and The Woodsman
An Aesop’s Fable

A hunter, not very bold, was searching for the tracks of a Lion. He asked a man felling oaks in the forest if he had seen any marks of his footsteps, or if he knew where his lair was. “I will,” he said, “at once show you the Lion himself.” The Hunter, turning very pal, and chattering with his teeth from fear, replied, “No, thank you. I did not ask that; it is his track only I am in search of, not the Lion himself.”
The hero is brave in deeds as well as words.

^ Doesn’t that just grab you! It’s the simplest illustration of a very important point. I know I’ve been guilty of this at least one time, or at least had that moment of, “Oh crap, I just found what I was looking for and now I’m not sure I want it.” The instinct to preserve self is a powerful one, and that’s where courage comes in. Are you willing to throw caution to the wind in the name of some action that is greater than you? Maybe that’s not always the case. It’s not life and death that we typically deal with, but there are moments when we are called upon to step up and put ourselves second in favor of the greater good. This often requires a huge amount of courage.

I’m learning a lot from digging through this book and trying to take the many passages to heart, study on them, and reflect on how I pursue the character of ‘manliness’ in my life. There are seven virtues promoted here, and they all play a role in a persons character.

I highly recommend picking it up if you’re into these sorts of books. It’s also free on the Kindle Lending Library, so it’s at least worth a look. I’m truly getting a lot out of it.

Until next time!

The Name of the Wind

I listened to a guy on a podcast today talking about how he blogged every single day. He said that he planned it out because he knew he could make a great blog post everyday if he had determined he would need something to talk about ahead of time. He always tried to do a better post than if he had just sat down and tried to do one out of nowhere. I thought about this for a minute since I’m trying to blog everyday as well, then I decided that I don’t care about readers :P. No offense to those who are reading this blog. It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just that I primarily write in this for myself. I want to be able to look back and see what my opinions were, how I wrote, what I thought about, and just enjoy seeing what “past Stephen” did with the youth he wasted. It’s kind of cool to think about it like a letter to your future self. We used to have to write this stuff down in books and keep track of it, but  now we just type it all out and the internet saves it forever for us. Not too bad.

Reading With My Ears

I don’t know about you guys, but in this culture where we have less and less time to do anything, one of the things I miss the most is having time to sit down and read a book. Between the podcasting, guitar playing, tv series watching, and social networking, I get may be 30 minutes to read before I go to bed at night. This is an awesome time to do it, but I barely have time to dig into a chapter and really zone out with the book. That’s where comes in.

I picked up a subscription with and it has changed the way that I “read” books. Ash, of H&H fame, was giving me crap tonight about listening to books because I’ve “forgotten how to read.” I totally remember how to read, but I’ve just found a way to enjoy books without having to completely focus. I just don’t have time to sit down and read books like  I used to, so listening to them is a perfect substitute. I’m still imagining everything in the book just like I would if I was reading it. I just get to read in the car…while I’m driving! It’s so awesome to actually enjoy a book while doing something would normally not be able to do while reading. Have you ever seen somebody reading while they drive? They are NOT good multi-taskers!

So if you are like me and just don’t have time to enjoy books on your couch with your eyes, give your ears a try. It’s just as fun, as long as the person reading doesn’t sound like Gilbert Gottfried. That could be a little much. If you want to try Audible, sign up here to pick up a free audiobook for yourself!

The Lost Symbol

the_lost_symbolI just finished the latest book by critically acclaimed author Dan Brown, and I totally loved it! Because I have such a long commute, I decided to just pick up the audiobook version on and give it a listen. This is one of the most intense books I’ve read/listened to in a while. Dan Brown really knows how to flesh out characters and give you a crazy puzzling story that sends your brain in so many different directions. I’d never read any of the Robert Langdon stories before, though I did give Da Vinci Code a try. I couldn’t finish that one, but this one totally sucked me in from the start.

I’m not going to give you guys any spoilers, so that pretty much means I can’t talk about the book at all. But I can tell you that it is definitely worth a read if you liked National Treasure at all. This follows that whole “Masonic legend” story, but it has much, much darker undertones and an incredibly vile antagonist. The mystery will keep you guessing and you’ll never see the end coming.

I typed all that just to tell you this: go get that book! You won’t regret it. The audiobook version was even fantastic, and the reader did an excellent job keeping the pace up and bringing out the intensity. Sometimes I wish he would have read faster, but that’s just because I eagerly wanted to know what the answers to this mystery were. Well, that’s it for now! Go read The Lost Symbol <– There’s a link to amazon just for you to go pick it up now. Why wait?

Stupid People Bug Me

So an interesting little tidbit popped up in the news the other day and has forced the crazy folk out into the wild again with their stupid theories and ridiculous assumptions. And that news is….Dumbledore is GAY.

J.K. Rowling announced the other day that her beloved character from the famous Harry Potter series is a homesexual. The crowd she announced this to had a mixed reaction of cheers and gasps. This all came about when a child asked if Dumbledore had ever been in love with a girl, so of course she had no choice but to let them all know why he hadn’t. She revealed that he had a relationship with the wizard Grindelwald, who ended up being his nemesis. It was because of this that Dumbledore was able to overlook most of the evil things that he was doing. It’s the same reason we can overlook why our loved ones do bad things…Love.

portrait2.jpgWell anyway, after all this the anti-potterists out there decided that this is further proof that Harry Potter is a detriment to society and is turning our children into evil little witchcraft practicers. That’s only logical, right!? NO! I’m sick of the world blaming the media for kids going nuts, much less blaming a simple BOOK. It’s a book about a magical world where amazing things happen, and YES evil is present and a constant force that is attempting to destroy everything we know and love. How is this different from the world we live in? As J.K. Rowling says, the book is mainly a lesson in tolerance. The message is preached through the whole thing. Different people, the prejudice of muggles against wizards and the other way around. It’s stupid that we can think this book has any other message around it other than a good one.

What annoys me the most is that a ton of fundamentalist Christians jumped on this bandwagon. I am a Christian, but unlike some of my counterparts, am actually a rational thinker. Does it make sense that a book is corrupting the youth and turning them toward a life of evil…..NO! Does it make sense that tons of kids are practicing witchcraft simply based on a book…NO! If your kids are flipping out on you, it’s probably because you didn’t teach them right, or you smother them with idealistic crap when they just want to be a kid. I went to a Christian school for a long time and a lot of the stuff that some people thought is just crazy. I’ve gotten out into the real world since then and I haven’t lost a bit of the core values of what I believe, but I think the people I went to school with can be really judgmental and unaccepting now. That school taught a lot of things, but a tolerance for other people’s way of life wasn’t one of them.

Anyway, I rarely get on a high horse about stuff on this blog, but sometimes I feel like it’s just necessary. So Dumbledore is gay…who cares?! They didn’t have homo sex scenes, or Harry Potter being violated in the book. They didn’t advertise it. Most people didn’t even know or think about it until 2 days ago! Let it go. Who cares? It’s a book, and an amazing book at that. It should be just as awesome now as it was before you knew this crap. You go Dumbledore…be gay…have fun.


The Reign of Evil is Over

harry-potter.jpgI just finished the 7th and final Harry Potter book and I have to say that I am completely satisfied with the ending that J.K. Rowling has bestowed upon us all. I’m not going to spoil it for anybody because I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that haven’t finished it yet, or maybe haven’t even picked it up. I will say a few things about it so you might not want to read if you want to be completely clueless.

I will say that this book was a far cry from the normal flow of the other books. Hogwarts is barely mentioned until you get closer to the end of the book, and what’s going on there is completely of no concern to our main heroes. I actually liked this approach because it broke from the usual way it goes. All of the books to this point have had similar themes about new Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, some random lacky that Voldemort uses to get closer to Harry, and the usual escape from the Dursley’s. This one started different, stayed different, and then ended completely different. Well not totally, but I’m gonna let you guys figure that one out.

All in all, I found this book just as hard to put down as the other books were. I’m completely satisfied with how the author chose to end it and even more satisfied that I was half right about what I thought was going to happen to Harry at the end. It all made perfect sense. Anyway, I just wanted to throw some comments out there about what I thought about this book. Now I have a new challenge: to find a new series to cling onto for the next decade =P

If you guys have finished it, or are in the process of reading, let me know what you thought in the comments 🙂