It was a dark and stormy night.
Well, okay, is was actually an afternoon and early evening, but it was delightfully dark and stormy. I was on my way home from a business trip, driving through a mountainous area with radio towers apparently few and far between. Flipping through channels (this was LONG before the iPod enabled stereo, or even the iPod) I came across a static-y voice giving a talk to the American Medical Association, of all things.
One of the most RIVETING talks I had ever heard.
Even as I waded around static and through terrifying puddles of silence before the signal thankfully resumed!
I listened through to the applause, and the thank yous, and on through to the announcer of the broadcast, desperate to learn
WHO IS THIS GUY?!?
HOW DO I FIND OUT MORE?!?!
FINALLY! Today’s speaker was …. Dr. Richard Swenson … who had written a book(… !! …) called… … finally … Margin!
I don’t recall if I even unpacked the car before setting off to find the book.
Actually, what I found that day was two of Dr. Swenson’s books in one, Margin and The Overload Syndrome. And while I was crabby about that at the start, in the end I found them a great complement to each other, so now I would definitely recommend that specific edition.
Dr. Swenson’s message is that we are not designed for constant acceleration and that unless we build Margin – in physical, financial, social, and other critical areas – into our lives intentionally, we will find ourselves too depleted or distracted to contribute meaningfully to the truly important, but usually not urgent, things in life. He does a great job of outlining the transformation of our society to one of constant overwhelm, and of demonstrating the individual, family, and social impacts of that transformation. Then he gives splendid prescriptions for curing what ails us.
Much of the abundance I am seeking in life comes from what I have learned from Dr. Swenson. I’ve now read all of his books but one, and each has been valuable.
I will eventually do mini-reveiws for others of them, but for now, if you enjoy Margin, here are other great works by Dr. Swenson.
Many may be available at your public library. I’ve included the Amazon links, because those I am sure will be up for awhile, but at the time I’m writing this you can also buy these books directly from Dr. Swenson’s site. I’ve included those details too, at the end.
For a quick, no commitment introduction to Dr. Swenson’s work, here is a nice little interview with him: http://www.citygatesinitiative.org/upload/documents/richard_swenson_podcast_transcript.pdf
There is also a very well designed workbook based on Margin and The Overload Syndrome, called Restoring Margin to Overloaded Lives. It isn’t necessary to implement the concepts, but it is a handy resource if you like a bit of structure to your contemplation. I go back through it periodically as I seek an increased abundance in my life.
Minute of Margin – this tiny book is actually based on several of Dr. Swenson’s books, not just Margin, and is one of the most delightful and thought provoking ‘daily devotional’ type books I’ve run into. here is an excerpt of it from Dr. Swenson’s site.
More Than Meets the: Fascinating Glimpses of God’s Power and Design – This is why physicists turned physicians, who happen to be Christians, should write books. An absolutely lovely book on the wonder of creation from the tiniest atom to the largest galaxy.
In Search of Balance: Keys to a Stable Life – Like Margin and The OverLoad Syndrome, this books discusses the cultural and societal ‘disease’, and prescriptions to heal it. In this case Dr. Swenson looks at the other side of the margin equation: balance in life.
Contentment: the Secret to Lasting Calm – I actually just found this one while doing the research for this post! It’s on the way here as I type. More later!
Hurtling Toward Oblivion: A Logical Argument for the End of the Age – This one is far more intense, and a good deal more mathematical, than most of the others. I read it because of my respect for the other books and Dr. Swenson himself, but it would definitely not be my suggestion for the first one you read. If you enjoy the others, give this one a shot too.
You can find out more about Dr. Swenson’s work at his website, and when last I was on it you could buy all of his books there as well: http://richardswenson.org