Winning the War on Distraction: Here’s How

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New York Times columnist David Brooks on how to win the war on distraction:

…if you want to win the war for attention, don’t try to say “no” to the trivial distractions you find on the information smorgasbord; try to say “yes” to the subject that arouses a terrifying longing, and let the terrifying longing crowd out everything else.

So how does one arouse this “terrifying longing”?

Look to children.

Read Brooks’ tactics for winning the war with distraction here.

“Liar!” Religious Behavior Exaggerated

The NY Times:

A new study…suggests that the gradual secularization of the nation has not eliminated the perceived social liar_2740802bdesirability of going to church, and the result is that Americans exaggerate their religious behavior.

The result?

This points to a paradox in the country: On the one hand we have the rise of the unaffiliated, but at the same time the social expectation of church attendance is still alive and well, and we can see it as people inflate their reports of church attendance in live interviews….

Read the article here.

(And I couldn’t help myself…)

 

 

“Denominations” Downsizing? Debatable

The New York Times reports various denominations who are downsizing their buildings, chalking it up to increasing secularization.

Here are the denominations they mention:

  • Episcopal
  • American Baptist
  • United Methodist
  • Roman Catholic
  • Reformed Jewish
  • Unitarian Universalist

(Non-snarky) note to the NYTimes editorial staff: The latter two are not denominations but different religions altogether (the last one is debatable if it’s even a religion in the strictest sense).

Here’s a picture of the stairwell of the building the Unitarians are selling:

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Does your denominational headquarter’s stairwell look like this?
Didn’t think so.

Also, it’s interesting to note which denominations are not mentioned, i.e. evangelical, conservative, Protestant, historically orthodox.

In other words, churches who believe in a literal Gospel, and a literal Christ of the Gospel, One who makes demands upon us, demands which we in and of ourselves are unable to fulfill apart from his divine intervention, and that this Gospel must be shared with the entire world with a very real eternity at stake—these denominations are notably absent.

The Atlantic on Driscoll: Who’s Promoting Who?

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Pastor Mark Driscoll preaches at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. (AP)

The Atlantic:

Mars Hill Church spent $210,000 getting its pastor’s book to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Where is the line between a pastor promoting his own career and promoting the ministry of his church?

Fair question.

I usually avoid the comment section in these types of articles. However, commenter Wendy Alsup (a former member of Mars Hill Church) astutely notes,

This statement in the article is incorrect. “… emphasizing that all profits from Driscoll’s book sales have always gone to the church.” The BOAA statement said only that profits of books sold AT MARS HILL CHURCH go back to the church. Mark received royalties for books sold outside of the church.

I’m not following this story’s every nuance, but I’d call that a serious omission.

Read the article here.

Gay Marriage Victory Lap

Ross Douthat of The New York Times writes that the gay marriage debate in the US is essentially over.

He starkly concludes:

We are not really having an argument about same-sex marriage anymore, and on the evidence of Arizona, we’re not having a negotiation. Instead, all that’s left is the timing of the final victory — and for the defeated to find out what settlement the victors will impose.

Read Douthat’s article here.

Audrey Assad, Augustine and Attractive Faith

I’m astonished that The New York Times allows columnists David Brooks and Ross Douthat to write so often about matters of faith. It shows how little I understand the complicated world of higher journalism.

Brooks, in a recent article “Alone, Yet Not Alone” discusses the role of faith, doubt, loss, wandering, and eventual spiritual renewal in singer-songwriter Audrey Assad. Brooks writes,

And yet there is a silent majority who experience a faith that is attractively marked by combinations of fervor and doubt, clarity and confusion, empathy and moral demand.

While Audrey and I would differ denominationally (I’m Protestant, she’s Roman Catholic), I resonate with her discovering the deep riches of St. Augustine, issues of faith in great literature, and a robust Christianity that predates the 1800’s.

Brooks concludes:

If you are a secular person curious about how believers experience their faith, you might start with Augustine’s famous passage “What do I love when I love my God,” and especially the way his experience is in the world but then mysteriously surpasses the world:

“It is not physical beauty nor temporal glory nor the brightness of light dear to earthly eyes, nor the sweet melodies of all kinds of songs, nor the gentle odor of flowers, and ointments and perfumes, nor manna or honey, nor limbs welcoming the embraces of the flesh; it is not these I love when I love my God. Yet there is a light I love, and a food, and a kind of embrace when I love my God — a light, voice, odor, food, embrace of my innerness, where my soul is floodlit by light which space cannot contain, where there is sound that time cannot seize, where there is a perfume which no breeze disperses, where there is a taste for food no amount of eating can lessen, and where there is a bond of union that no satiety can part. That is what I love when I love my God.”

Read Brooks’ article on Audrey’s journey of faith here.

And here’s a video Brooks mentions of Audrey beautifully singing “I Shall Not Want”: