What I Read Online – 05/03/2013 (a.m.)

03 May
    • For those who go beyond the title-cum-metaphor and actually read Amusing Ourselves to Death, there is much to like. Postman defends the written word against the moving image of the screen
    • Postman’s first thesis that pervades his book is this: Every medium inevitably shapes, to a greater or lesser degree, the “message” it conveys
    • Postman’s second (and equally pervasive) thesis is this: Every medium inevitably shapes, to a greater or lesser degree, those who employ it.
    • Classify
    • Skim to Scan
    • Time is of the Essence
    • Scroll, Don’t Click
    • It’s called “Generation Net”—no longer reading a page from left to right, from top to bottom, but skimming. “In a recent Phi Beta Kappa meeting, Duke University professor Katherine Hayles confessed, ‘I can’t get my students to read whole books anymore.’ Hayles teaches English; the students she’s talking about are students of literature.”
    • We are raising a generation of deluded narcissists.
    • Yet wisdom—that fruit of patient meditation on what really matters—is precisely what is becoming more difficult in the Internet Age
    • By lifeless, I mean there’s no “there” there—no sense of a collection of books as material, physical objects, no “being” to their existence. Ontology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the logic, nature, and relations of being. But do digital texts really “exist” in the same sense as physical books?
    • Before I go on, let it be known that I have a Libronix library glutted with texts. Daily I use an iPad and conduct work from my Galaxy S III. I’m no Luddite. At the same time, my understanding of the incarnation and the Reformation perspective on the Bible leaves me with a pragmatic approach to the aforementioned devices. The fact of the coming of Christ in the flesh and the fact that the Holy Spirit works through material objects like the Word and Sacraments leave me in a posture of respect to the physicality of the Scriptures. My Bible is not a book among other books, an app among other apps. I have no mastery over it. Call it old-fashioned if you like, but it can hardly be denied that there’s something fitting about outward deference to and reverence for the material pages of Scripture that are related in some way to the fact of Christ’s incarnation. What I am getting at is the loss of relationship to the biblical text as such and, by extension, its author and object when the “there-ness” and hold-in-your-hand nature of the book is surrendered.
    • Fourth, printed copies can be shared—replete with margin notes, underlining, and highlighting—in a gift-giving, self-giving way that digital texts cannot
    • Fifth, and along similar lines, real books have a variety of distinguishing features, including size, shape, texture, color, thickness, and even smell. Even without a photographic memory, there is some recall as to the location of information on a page or in the beginning, middle, or end of a book
    • The disappearing Bible may be the result of the dominant understanding of Christian “community” in our day, where Christian worship is increasingly ephemeral, where there are no hymnals, no printed liturgies, no pew Bibles, no permanent pulpits; but only transitory PowerPoint slides, overhead projections, and portable podiums.
    • This is why Tocqueville concludes that though “the purely practical side of science is cultivated admirably…hardly anyone in the United States devotes himself to the essentially theoretical and abstract side of human knowledge.”
    • Think of the relevance of this observation for contemporary Christianity. Do today’s Christians lose sight of the basic principles of their faith once they begin to confine themselves almost exclusively with practical concerns? To put it another way, did we begin to apply the gospel poorly once we stopped focusing on the content of the gospel that was to be applied? (6)
    • The very idea of meditating upon some abstract idea, without regard for its practical use, requires a kind of stillness rarely found outside of the groups of people who have their basic needs met in life
    • If you are interested in the quest for truth, in all its varied forms, then you need to carve out both space and time for serious reading and reflection
    • It’s important to be a demanding reader or listener, to ask questions of the writer or speaker as you give your attention to the meaning of the words
    • Data shows that more and more 20-somethings are bypassing the typical route into adulthood
    • In the late ’40s, the United States was home to 2,500 clinical psychologists, 30,000 social workers, and fewer than 500 marriage and family therapists. As of 2010, the country had 77,000 clinical psychologists, 192,000 clinical social workers, 400,000 nonclinical social workers, 50,000 marriage and family therapists, 105,000 mental-health counselors, 220,000 substance-abuse counselors, 17,000 nurse psychotherapists, and 30,000 life coaches. The majority of patients in therapy do not warrant a psychiatric diagnosis. This raft of psychic servants is helping us through what use to be called regular problems. We have outsourced the work of everyday caring. (2)
    • The gospel addresses and counters the need for validation in this way. For the adultescent who cannot earn the authenticity he or she seeks, for the profile he or she made (and will continue to update) to validate this authenticity, God in Jesus brings the only imputation that doesn’t need reloading.

    • We live now in an atmosphere of almost constant media exposure, basically looking away from what’s going on around us
    • In order to make data evolve from information into knowledge and wisdom, we need processes that sometimes involve stillness, quiet, and the ability to tenaciously wrestle with a problem
    • So if we’re always reacting to what’s new in our environment—every beep, ping, Yahoo headline—we’re undercutting the highest order human abilities, which are planning, evaluation, and assessment. That’s called executive attention. It’s not just the fragmentation or lack of tenacity or hyperactivity; it’s also our reactivity
    • I think we’re at a critical crossroad. We’re not just dealing with the telephone or the fax anymore. We’re dealing with a wholesale usurpation of our lives by technology and its impacts, so we have to get even smarter in how we’re dealing with it individually and collectively.

    • One of the most interesting studies I’ve seen on multitasking shows that when you’re multitasking, yes, you are learning. However, we need to digest information in order to make it our own, to learn it well, interpret it, and therefore be able to transfer it to other situations. When you’re multitasking, you’re using parts of your brain related to automatic behavior. So that means kids cramming for a test are learning and can spit it out the next day, and maybe get an A. But they are not learning that information in a way that goes into their deeper memory. Therefore, they can’t transfer that information into new situations—they’ve lost it. It’s surface learning. That transference is at the heart of creating wisdom. So the cumulative effect of multitasking your way through your homework is astonishingly dangerous. The same goes with our own adult lifestyles.
    • cognitive work that can take days and even months to accomplish,” and that this requires rote repetition
    • Basically, discipline in our lives where we realize that although some things may not seem exciting to us at the moment, there are lots of things that are valuable that can’t be digitized or downloaded
    • Instead of sin committed against a holy God, we have infractions committed against the self
    • He became a believer during the writing of this novel, and eventually embraced the Reformed understanding of the Christian faith.
    • that she had ‘no choices, only situations’. Perhaps for Mary Livingstone that just meant having to leave the choices to her more famous husband, but sometimes in Providence there are times when that is absolutely true – we have no room to make choices, simply the sense of being hemmed in and having to seek grace for the situation in which we find ourselves. 
    • “As history has revealed, Wycliffe’s bones were much more easily dispersed than his teachings, for out of a sea of controversy and angry disputation rose his greatest contribution—the English Bible
    • In 1382, shortly before his death, he witnessed the completion of the first full translation of the Bible into the English language. This would be revised by his followers shortly after his death. These Bibles were painstakingly copied by hand with each copy taking months to complete. Once copied they were carried throughout the land by men known as “Lollards” who simply read the Bible and preached the gospel. Before long the Church deemed Wycliffe’s Bible so dangerous that to read it was punishable by death. Though English has evolved a great deal since 1382, the language remains recognizable and the translation remarkably accurate.
    • Many people describe marriage as the laboratory where our spiritual growth is fostered and developed. I find it to be equally true of parenting as well. God has used parenting in my life to refine and change me in ways I had not anticipated
    • Parenthood is an ideal place for sanctification in our lives. It’s an area of our life which we so desperately try to control.
    • I learned the reason why parenthood is often so hard — God uses parenthood to strip away our independence and the sin that keeps us from abiding in him
    • for evangelicalism is a big pond with an assortment of diverse fish, many paying no attention whatsoever to the water in which they swim
    • Henceforth, I refer to these evangelicals as the Confessionalists. Like Postman, they are cultural conservatives who have come to realize that older social traditions should not be sacrificed on the altar of progress. They are more backward looking than forward, desiring to preserve what they see as the permanent things in the culture. Confessionalists are troubled with capitalism’s excesses, especially the Church’s harnessing of market techniques to procure converts. In this sense, they belong to neither the Protestant left, which devalues doctrinal certainty, nor to the Protestant right, which today is tempted to trivialize doctrinal certainty under a banner of relevance
    • Even before coming upon McLuhan’s now famous axiom, “the medium is the message,” Postman (1985) said his study of the Bible as a young man helped him to see how “forms of media favor particular kinds of content and therefore are capable of taking command of a culture” (8-9)
    • Writing is the perfect medium because, unlike pictures or the oral tradition, the written word is a symbol system of a symbol system, twice removed from reality and perfect for describing a God who is also far removed from reality: a nonphysical, abstract divinity. Moses smartly chose the right communication strategy. With the Second Commandment [Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image], Moses was the first person who ever said, more or less, “Don’t watch TV; go do your homework.” (45)
    • If parents wish to preserve childhood for their own children, they must conceive of parenting as an act of rebellion against culture

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 03/05/2013 in Current Issues


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