Thursday, June 26, 2003

June 26, 2003, column:
School reunion brings flood of unsaid thoughts
June 12, 2003, column:
Basketball player's character makes him admirable
May 22, 2003, column:
Again, because of confusing omissions in the newspaper version of the column, it is presented here directly in its original form instead of from the Amarillo Globe-News Web site:

Local author's witty self-help manual is not necessarily a Christian book

By Mike Haynes
Sorry, Jason, I’m blowing your cover.
OK, young Amarillo writer Jason Boyett really isn’t being sneaky with his second book, “Things You Should Know By Now: A Mini-Life Manual for the Quarterly Aged.” It actually is what Boyett says it is: “a book intended to help twentysomethings navigate the choppy waters of love, money, relationships and other miscellaneous aspects of life.”
But the thing is, the witty self-help manual, which went on sale May 15 at local bookstores and on the usual international Web sites, is a not-necessarily-Christian book written by a Christian author.
Boyett begins his wise but never pushy paperback with a parable gleaned from a book called “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones,” and his chapters are filled with contemporary culture references such as reality TV, “The Matrix,” techno musician Moby and urban legend e-mails. He covers topics such as “Beware the Credit Card Debt Monkey,” How to Change a Flat Tire,” “How to Cook Eggs a Bunch of Different Ways” and “How Not to Worry.”
He truly does tell the 20-to-30 crowd how to do basic things that don’t always get taught in a society of amazing technology and instant gratification.
Anyone – even us old folks – can enjoy it from any starting point, which Boyett and Relevant Books intend. Boyett doesn’t see a need to sprinkle Bible verses throughout the pages, although there are a couple, along with footnotes acknowledging such sources as St. Augustine. But his perspective comes from his upbringing in Amarillo, and chapters such as “The Best Way to Live is Generously” reflect ideas that sound pretty familiar to those acquainted with Jesus’ teachings.
The Epilogue at the end of the book – “There’s More to Life Than Romance, Money and Poker” – is the only place Boyett explicitly lays out the importance of Christianity in his life. As in the rest of the chapters – and like many young men and women of his generation – he is open and honest, not whitewashing the questions. He writes that his belief “doesn’t come as easily to me as it did when I was younger.
“It’s challenged on a daily basis by the injustice of our fellow humans and the ridiculousness of the religious, by the prevalence of unmitigated evil and uninhibited disaster.
“Ten years ago, my faith was the simple assurance that the Judeo-Christian Jehovah, as revealed in the person of Christ, was and is absolutely real. Today, on a good day, I still hold to that. But on a bad day? On a bad day, faith for me is living as if God’s real, but … wondering.”
The story of Boyett’s grandfather learning to laugh again after larynx surgery, the author’s credit to his brother for a card trick and his frequent mention of his wife and kids all show that family and tradition remain anchors for him. But his world view is anything but simplistic. Consider his chapter on postmodernism.
Because “pomo” is attached these days to everything from “Seinfeld” to retro baseball parks, Boyett spends a few pages on it. He says postmodernism encompasses relativism, diversity, no central authority and importance of the group over the individual. It’s a philosophy that says “whatever.”
He says “Everybody Loves Raymond” is a modern TV show, while “Friends” is postmodern. The Internet, direction-less and diverse, is postmodern.
Boyett’s wide range of “stuff” young adults should know may be an example of “pomo,” too, for all I know. I do believe this gifted 29-year-old has plenty of good advice for everybody.
He approaches members of his generation on their own familiar turf, giving help on everything from 401(k)s to making fruit smoothies. And if readers want to explore where much of his wisdom comes from, he points them in that direction, too.
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Just wondering
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Just wondering if potential messes like the Tulia drug arrests in Swisher County were a reason the late Sheriff Rufe Jordan didn’t want an outside drug task force coming into Gray County, where he knew residents in all neighborhoods on a first-name basis.
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Mike Haynes teaches journalism at Amarillo College. He can be reached at AC, the Amarillo Globe-News or Go to for other recent columns.