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Students Struggle to Read Entire Books

I read somewhere that all knowledge is socially-mediated. We consume information from a variety of formal and informal sources and, of course, much of our learning is now through digital channels. Here is an interesting discussion about whether or not students can read a book from cover to cover. There is a lot of talk about how our dance with digital and dependence on phones and the power of the cloud is rewiring the brain. The question is: Where do we go from here? How do we shape our messages and shift our conversations in the Age of Wondering Minds? Being aware is the first step toward being reengaged.

Selfies and the Corrosion of Human Memory

“Mylio, a small company made up of photographers, estimates that 1 trillion photos will be taken in 2015 and they project that number to grow 16.2 percent year over year. If all those photos were printed out as 4 X 6-inch prints and attached to each other, end-to-end, you could make a complete round trip to the sun and back.”

Complex ideas can enter consciousness automatically

There is no question, images make an immediate and lasting impression on the brain. A picture is like a wormhole into the soul of a person. The brain stores audio information in one way —a more temporary way — and it stores visual information in an entirely different way. A better way. A way that will make the memory easier to recall. What pictures (actual or imagined) are we sharing or crafting when we communicate? And how do we engage the muscle memory of our hearers so they can become doers?

Stanford Psychologist: Technology Is Ruining a Generation of Men

What happens when we, as communicators, hear about cultural problems or addictions that need to be addressed? Odds are (gambling reference, get it?) we put together a sermon or class. And odds are, again, we will walk down the same learning and presentation path we always have. Odds are the same results will manifest; namely, limited or short-term change.

A better approach: Addressing and undressing underlying human conditions that lead to our behaviors. Instead of a series on pornography, how about a discussion of our lack of intimacy in a high tech, low touch, frenetic, suburban mind-numbing milieu? How about an honest look at why we like beautiful things or how our appetites are being hijacked or misplaced? Many are lonely and disconnected today not because they don’t have other humans around them, but because they are not experience closeness with those humans. This is a spiritual condition, a physical condition, a human condition. Time for a new approach?

The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist

Word of Larry Alex Taunton’s new book on his good friend, and one of the world’s leading “new atheists,” Christopher Hitchens, is already impacting. From Amazon:

“At the time of his death, Christopher Hitchens was the most notorious atheist in the world.  And yet, all was not as it seemed.  “Nobody is not a divided self, of course,” he once told an interviewer, “but I think it’s rather strong in my case.”   Hitchens was a man of many contradictions:   a Marxist in youth who longed for acceptance among the social elites; a peacenik who revered the military; a champion of the Left who was nonetheless pro-life, pro-war-on-terror, and after 9/11 something of a neocon; and while he railed against God on stage, he maintained meaningful—though largely hidden from public view—friendships with evangelical Christians like Francis Collins, Douglas Wilson, and the author Larry Alex Taunton.”

I always get a little heartsick when meeting pastors who either don’t know of Hitchens or haven’t watched at least a few of his debates with leading Christian apologists. Hitchens was brilliant, interesting and asked serious questions that people of faith often fail to answer. If we are not familiar with the leading voices in our culture, how can we deep dive into the zeitgeist long enough to grab another’s hand?

The Connection Between War and Religion

Jesus rarely made political statements. Only two comments with a political feeling come to mind: “Render to Caesar” and “that Fox” (a reference to a Herod Antipas). Jesus’ Kingdom wasn’t of earth, but Heaven; a spiritual yeast, a seed, a still small voice, a little something slowly and surely infiltrating darkness, working its redemptive, compounding influence in the world. The temptation is to take matters into our own hands, get sucked into the spirit of the age in one of its many manifestations. Nationalism and Zion-creating (Heaven on earth through human effort) come to mind. Read about the history of Zion, Illinois or interview a millennial about the church’s waning influence and then ponder how well joining the timeless Message of Jesus with the time-sensitive blood sport of politics has worked. Onward Christian lovers and truth-tellers.

The Neuroscience of Storytelling

How many seminaries have classes in storytelling for future preachers? I took four different homiletics classes in college. After I unlearned much of the material, and learned to laugh with my audience, I did alright. Wink. Every preacher should be a student of Garrison Keillor and Lake Wobegon. As an old preacher friend of ours used to say, “It’s a sin to be dull.” As Len Sweet said once, “It’s all about the story.”

5 Reasons People Stick to Their Beliefs No Matter What

Starting an apologetics series any time soon? Do you ever have disagreements? This may be helpful.

Has Religion Affected Wage Disparities?

It has always been an easy case to make that Jesus elevated the status of women. The Pauline letters have to be explained in context to bring the storyline together. I have personally spoken to women who believe the Bible kept women subservient to men. And looking at the leadership layout in many churches, it is easy to feel the pain. With gender being such an important topic today, faith leaders need more than a typical mother’s day homily to engage the community.

Want to Achieve Something Big? Think Small

Need to achieve big results or make it through a complex situation? Think like a kid. I remember a spiritual teacher making a big deal of this.