What are you enjoying right now?
Sometimes, we need to step back and ask a question like that.
Philippians 4:8 challenges believers to think and dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.” So the Facts & Trends staff would like to regularly share our “Favorites” at the moment.
It might be a new book or podcast we’re enjoying or something going on in our lives we want to share. Hopefully, you’ll think about things that are your favorites right now and maybe find something else to add to that list.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor), online editor: Innovation is hard, but adapting and changing to the current cultural landscape is necessary. Leaders have to work to create an environment where others feel comfortable taking risks and being bold.
This article from Fast Company by a former Apple employee gives three lessons learned from the innovative tech company on what it takes to create a culture open to change and new ideas.
While innovation at Apple is much different from innovation in ministry, the ideas should give pastors and church leaders something to think about in how they work with other employees and volunteers.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: I’ve always had a fondness for trees. My mother loves to tell people that when I was a child I could sit for hours in front of the sliding glass door watching the trees in our backyard sway in the wind. My fascination with trees has never quite worn off.
And while I wouldn’t label myself a “tree-hugger,” I do recall one Saturday in my tween years when my friend Shanna and I strapped ourselves to a couple of sweetgum trees our fathers had planned to cut down. It didn’t work.
Our begging and pleading only managed to irritate our dads. The trees came down—something about them being too big and too close to the house. It didn’t matter that they provided proper shade for our Barbie play dates.
I suppose a tree can’t live forever, but some varieties do live hundreds, even thousands of years. This collection of photos by photographer Beth Moon captures some of our globe’s oldest and most unique trees. I could study these, well, for hours!
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), managing editor: As a child I was fascinated by stories of “bubble” children, forced to live in sealed environments because of defective immune systems. Years later I learned about the “campus bubble,” inhabited by college students who remain blithely unaware of major world events. These days they show up regularly on social media.
But the “bubble” mentality is hazardous for people who want to share their faith. I’ve attended too many churches where people interact mostly with those who think, look, and behave like themselves.
This week I came across a PBS NewsHour quiz that promises to answer: Do you live in a bubble? The quiz is aimed at socioeconomic differences, but it provokes questions relevant to us all. How well can you relate to people whose backgrounds are vastly different from your own? Will they feel comfortable and understood if they talk to you?
It may be time to take a look at your bubble.
Bob Smietana (@BobSmietana), senior writer: My favorite: Audible.com, one of the leading online audiobook sites. My wife and I started listening to books on tape back in the early 1990s, during a road trip to Iowa for a friend’s wedding.
Our first listen: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by the late British sci-fi writer, Douglas Adams. We were so hooked that at the end of the five hour trip, we drove around the block for half an hour until the last cassette played and the story was over.
Today, books on tape have been rebranded as audiobooks and they sell like hotcakes. Audible sold a million downloads of the Harry Potter books alone in the past for months. (That’s more than 8,000 people a day buying a copy.)
In some cases, audiobooks are now outselling hardcover copies of their books. Audiobooks are thriving—sales were up 38.1 percent in 2015, according to the American Association of Publishers—at a time when e-books are also starting to decline.
For me, an audiobook means I can read anytime, anywhere—in the car, out for a walk or a long run, or even while doing the dishes. What could be better than that?
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: My favorite this week comes from my daughter’s library, I borrowed her copy of Randall Munroe’s book What If? Munroe is a former NASA roboticist and physicist who gives real scientific answers to hypothetical and bizarre questions.
His use of stick drawings and cartoons to illustrate them is great. Even if you aren’t a big science fan, his style is so interesting you can’t stop reading it.
An example of one question is, “How hard would a puck have to be shot to knock the goalie backward through the net?” The answer is a human can’t hit a puck that hard, but if you used a machine it’d be at least mach 9 (because the puck is so small and loses speed). He has a blog where you can submit questions.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?