**spoiler alert** ***My summary and notes on the book: Smith writes about the limiting scope of the term "worldview" because it fails to address the m...more**spoiler alert** ***My summary and notes on the book: Smith writes about the limiting scope of the term "worldview" because it fails to address the more affective side of how people live their lives. Specifically, he argues that it limits the inclusion of "liturgies" (he calls them "formative practices") or habits in our life that demonstrate what we hold to be important and how we spend our time. Thus, when the ultimate aim of Christian education is to teach a worldview, it falls short of building a way of life by focusing entirely on the cognitive (information) and not on the affective (habits/practices). The secular world, on the other hand, is very adept at using our desires to practice clear physical habits of consumption.
"The core claim of this book is that liturgies - whether "sacred" or "secular" - shape and constittue our identities by forming our most fundamental desires and our most basic attunement to the world. In short, liturgies make us certain kinds of people, and what defines us is what we love. They do this because we are the sorts of animals whose orientation to the world is shaped from the body up more than from the head down." p25
-Focusing on worldviews only reinforces a dualistic view of humans - we are thinkers inside of containers - rather than understanding that we were created as embodied beings. Worldviews should be more than just "thinking correctly".
"My contention is that given the sorts of animals we are, we pray before we believe, we worship before we know - or rather, we worship in order to know." p34
A common concern of Smith's is that the underlying assumptions about the anthropology of the student dictates pedagogy. In other words, if we think of humans as primarily thinking beings (cognition is disembodied from physical experiences) then we fail to address part of who and what people really are. Specifically, it leads to a quasi-rationalist pedagogy, which is a failure of Christian education.
The philosophical basis for Smith's arguments comes from the concept that there are different ways of being conscious; we can think, perceive, hope, love, etc. Some philosophers talk about our intentionality in the world as primarily cognitive whereas others (like Heidegger) argue that we are involved in the world as traditional actor (i.e., we don't think our way around the world, we feel our way). Smith takes this a step further and argues that we are primarily creatures of love (which takes the structure of desire or longing). Thus, what we love is our specific vision of the good life. This vision captures our hearts and imaginations not by providing a set of rules or ideas, but by painting a picture of what it looks like for us to flourish and live well. Habits are the mechanism by which this vision is carried out.
Smith brings up Tim Wilson's work (and other social psychologists) to formulate the empirical basis for the importance of the unconscious mind in our daily behaviors (p. 590).
"I have been suggesting that we picture human person not as containers filled with ideas or beliefs, but rather as dynamic, desiring "arrows" aimed and pointed at something ultimate that in turn becomes a mirror of the sorts of people they (want to) become. We are fundamentally creatures of desire who crave particular visions of the kingdom - the good life - and our desire is shaped and directed by practices that point the heart, as it were." p.71
Smith discusses many examples of cultural liturgies in our societies that have a visceral impact on your beliefs and behavior. For example, he mentions how rising for the national anthem at a sporting event brings a rowdy, chaotic crowd to a calm almost instantaneously. We have many other rituals built into our culture that are more powerful than any religious worship service because they incorporate our body and senses in much more sophisticated and intense ways. p.105
Smith criticizes the power of the church service to reach hearts and minds because it focuses so exclusively on an informational or cognitive approach to serving its members. Our outside culture, on the other hand, appreciates that we are liturgical, desiring animals that thrive on affect and physical experiences. He uses the example of George Orwell’s 1984 and how the main character perceives that he is able keep his thought away from Big Brother no matter what. But as soon as he is brought in for questioning and faced with the visceral fear of rats near his face, he immediately gives over his mind as well. Smith argues that churches often treat people in a dualist fashion – trying to convince people through depositing ideas only. p.127
One example of Christian liturgy that is particularly effective is traditional Good Friday services with changes in lighting, percussion, etc. These kind of services are memorable for both adults and children in ways that sermons never can be. Smith argues that especially for children, these kind of experiences at church are instrumental in building our liturgical world in the same way sources outside of the church do. P.137
Smith addresses the nature of the sacraments and how important certain church experiences are to addressing our visceral/physical experiences and not just our cognitive ones. He seems to hedge his classification of sacraments since he denies special categories of means of grace, but he does describe the Eucharist and Baptism as “hot spots” or “intense” parts of the sacramental world (he argues that it is possible to experience sacraments through nature, etc.). He discusses how this importance of these intense sacraments is underutilized by most churches who continue to move towards a more symbolic and cognitive explanation of what these processes remind us of in the Bible. (less)
**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: Three acts of the world's drama: creation, fall, redemption. ***
Ch2 - Creation - Scripture tells...more**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: Three acts of the world's drama: creation, fall, redemption. ***
Ch2 - Creation - Scripture tells us who created the wonders of the world and why. Study of these wonders tells us how God did his wonders, and when. Some people believe that the world drama is only about humans, but Plantinga argues that the Bible makes clear "the earth is the Lord's nd all that is in it." psalm 24:1. Also, in Genesis 9, God makes a convenant with Noah and every living creature. The initial command for us to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth is taken as God's command for us to work creating culture, etc. Part of this command also asks us to be image bearers of God, and this includes subduing the earth, but also filling it with God-pleasing cultural activity. Reformed Christians think a lot about the implications of the original creation. For example, they argue that the original goodness of creation implies that all of it, including any human being we meet, is potentially redeemable. Being created in the image of God also means that we must balance our individual and corporate identities. Creation also tells us our place in relation to God and the rest of creation. We are not God, but we do bear His image. ***
Ch3 - fall - If the falleness of creation extends everywhere, then it also extends into our thinking processes themselves (thus we have distorted reasoning with God's help). ***
Ch4 - redemption - Reformed Christians take a very big view of falleness. They argue that God doesn't just want to save souls, but to save bodies too. God wants to save social systems and economic structures. Calvinists want to reform the entire world using Scripture and relying on the Holy Spirit to determine what is the right way to reform things. ***
Ch5 Vocation in the Kingdom of God - God wants us to be a "prime" citizen of the kingdom and yearn passionately for the kingdom of God to come. Your college education is not just job training, but training to help you become a "prime" citizen. God can accomplish His purposes in the context of secular education, but it is more difficult because you cannot have conversations that include meta-narratives regarding humans being created in the image of God. Plantinga argues that it is very difficult for the committed Christian to thrive and learn how to serve in God's kingdom in a secular school of higher education. He also warns against going to a Christian school in order to prevent your beliefs from being tested. Each Christian must go through the hard work of thinking through his or her beliefs no matter where they are. (less)
**spoiler alert** My notes and summary from the book:
Introduction -Parents do not need to have a consequence for a child’s every misdeed. -Family fun s...more**spoiler alert** My notes and summary from the book:
Introduction -Parents do not need to have a consequence for a child’s every misdeed. -Family fun should not be contingent on child behavior. -Expectations are more effective and powerful than lots of rules. -Parents must decide what information is private about the child. -Hurt children get better when their pain is soothed, their anger reduced, their fears quelled, and their environment contained. CH1: Who is the hurt child? CH2: Dare to parent -Hurt children are sensitive their own vulnerability and perceived weakness. They act terrified of losing control and fearful of control by others. -Hurt children often have unhealthy fears -They have survivor’s mentality and deny their vulnerability (think nothing can hurt them). -Healthy fear eventually leads to respect, empathy and love, and a child cannot arrive at one stage without going through the prior stages. -Vulnerability and perceived weakness -Being cooperative , compliant, and receptive translates to losing. -For healthy children, control over them equates to love. They believe their parents are all-powerful and it’s okay for them to be vulnerable. They can be weak without being unsafe, and this helps them develop a conscience (internalize morals based on fear of disapproval). CH3: What doesn’t work -Nurturing vs. rewards – Nurturing happens whether or not the child behaves well; rewards are more like bribery to achieve a particular behavior. Children should not be reward for doing what they are expected to do. -Should never withhold affection/love towards the hurt child. It is impossible to make them feel worse than they already have been made to feel. -Punishment: empathy and consequences are much better teachers than lecturing/words -Hurt need time-ins with parents instead of time-outs. Instead of grounding, it is better to require permission for everything so there are no assumptions about what is okay to do. -Deprivation: Taking things way from hurt children (who are used to losing everything) is ineffective. Instead, if something is going to be taken away, it needs to be taken away forever so they learn to believe what you say. For example, if they continually fail to take care of a toy/s, you can let them know that you are going to give them to a child who doesn’t have any of those toys (and make the child’s life easier because it will be less for them to clean up and take care of). -Anger: Must remember that anger is a hurt child’s best friend. In fact, they are often the most unhappy when parents are joyful. Anger helps them feel safe and distant, and when he sees it in others, he feels powerful. It brings the level of energy the child is accustomed to. -Equality: respond with “We’re all different, and the world doesn’t always treat us fairly or equally. It’s much better to learn this at a young age than on your first job assignment.” CH4: What works -Authors argue that the most effective ways to achieve attachment is through touch, smell, speech, motion, warmth, and eye contact. -Best not to tell hurt child consequences of their behaviors, instead, parents should alternate responses so the child is always guessing as to what you will do. -Be very careful in offering praise, it can easily make them feel as if they’ve lost control; should offer praise indirectly (let them overhear it). Also, don’t offer praise for expected behaviors (like using manners) -Negative behaviors: turn all negative behaviors into something that you control (act like it is what you wanted them to do anyway). E.g., rating a tantrum, ask them to scream louder, predict their negative behavior. -Work on training degrees of bad and good (e.g., “behave” to them means being perfect). Given them a rating scale, such as down to neck is not so bad, below belt is really bad -Make very clear to hurt children expectations of your family – our family does “x”; for example, we are “truthtellers” in our family – don’t rely on subtle cues, use explicit ones CH5: Cinnamon on applesauce -Eye contact is very important, mimic the way that you spend a huge amount of time starting at an infant. P84 has a whole list of games/techniques -p90 has list of techniques on how to do movement together, activities, etc.; nurturing through food is also important – see p95 -Enhancing communication – tell adoption story over and over, past experiences with kids, etc. -p99 has several techniques for physical closeness with children CH6: The school dance -Teach children phrases to help them survive in school and practice them: e.g., I need help, I can do difficult things, I always have a choice, I can learn from my mistakes, I like to try new things, I like school, I can solve this, I know I can count on myself, I know where to get help, I can solve problems, I need your help to understand. -Make sure you establish communication lines with educators early and often CH7: Rough waters – all about getting your child unstuck and how to handle tough times CH8: Life preservers – Lists of resources to get help from others CH9: Finding useful help – how to find the best therapist CH10: Ask an expert – Q&A for the authors for specific children -kids may try to recreate sensory memories (like smell of urination) for comfort -kids’ life book must represent reality of why they were removed from parents -p203 has several techniques about how to deal with lying CH11: Parents and children talk back – testimonials from parents and adopted children CH12: Reprinted articles written by authors -p256 good article on importance of holding and touch (less)
**spoiler alert** My notes and summary of the book:
Kuyper spent most of his writings talking about how we are called to serve in God’s kingdom. He arg...more**spoiler alert** My notes and summary of the book:
Kuyper spent most of his writings talking about how we are called to serve in God’s kingdom. He argued that at the heart of our call to glorify God is our obedient service as God’s designated caretakers in the cultural aspects of created life. This implies that God had an original created “culture” that He intended. *** One of the pieces of evidence for regaining creation is from John 3:16 – the Greek word for “world” (cosmos) refers to all of creation. So reformed scholars argue that God wants to save all of creation, not just human souls. *** Kuyper advanced the idea of “sphere sovereignty” or that God created different purposes and order for every sphere of His creation (e.g., politics, education, business). He argued it was important to maintain the distinction between categories; creation suffered when these boundaries were blurred (e.g., the state interfering with the church). As part of this argument, Kuyper believed that even if there had been no fall, God still wanted man to create culture. Even more, Kuyper believes that governments would have still been necessary had there been no fall (thus, God has in mind what a perfect government would look like). *** Kuyper generally argued against the intervention of the state to alleviate poverty, although he did say that the government must step across spheres in cases where no help was available to the poor. ***One of Kuyper’s most important arguments was that a Christian should not shut off his/her Christian identify in the secular world. Instead, he thought Christians should come together within each “sphere” to form guilds, political parties, co-ops, etc. in order to properly confess God’s sovereignty in each domain. Kuyper thought that individual activities serving the kingdom weren’t enough – God calls us to work together within our disciplines to serve Him, no matter what the disciplines are. *** The author also tries to address whether there is any Biblical evidence for Kuyper’s distinctions. One of Kuyper’s arguments refers to the use of the term “kinds” in Genesis, to mean that just as God created a different purpose and function for each of the animal types, so did He create purpose for each of his cultural institutions/services. He also argues that there are many examples in scripture of different spheres interacting, such as when a prophet (religious sphere) commands a king (political sphere) to do something. The author concedes that there are several “leaps” in this logic, but still finds Kuypers distinctions to be very useful. *** One of the components of Kuypers expositions is that he often likes to think of what the world would have been like if there had been no fall (much like historians do “what if” exercises). This is what he uses as support of his belief that governments would still be necessary in a non-fallen world (e.g., traffic laws would still be needed). He also talks about each of his spheres as standing directly before the face of God – in other words, the church does not mediate between educators and God. *** Kuyper gave up his position as a pastor when he became a political leader because he did not want it to appear that his connection to one sphere would influence his decisions in another sphere. *** The Calvinist belief in the elect and reprobate had clear implications for the belief in the regenerate and unregenerate life, but Kuyper wanted to explain how the church often disappoints us in its regenerate works and the unbelieving world is often not as bad it one would predict. This is what prompted him to develop the concept of common grace. Calvinists argue that there is a difference between total and absolute depravity. Total means that it affects our total world, thoughts, etc., but it does not mean that absolutely everything we think and produce is depraved. This is where the possibility for accepting writing and thinking from secular thinkers comes in. Calvin himself described some pagan thinkers as benefiting from a “peculiar grace of God.” Kuyper extended this into the doctrine of common grace, saying God had “an attitude of favor toward the whole human race.” God uses common grace to advance his creational structure, even through the hands of the unbeliever. *** One of Kuyper’s contemporaries was Herman Bavinck. He was a full-time scholar (unlike Kuyper) and more moderate and kind to other points of view than Kuyper. *** Kuyper had several writings that indicated Africans were inferior to Whites; the author uses this is an example for the need for “neo-Kuyperism”. ***Speaking of neo-Kuyperism, Walsh and Middleton argue that in order to determine a worldview, one needs to answer: “Who am I?, Where am I? What’s wrong? What’s the remedy?” *** Mouw tries to argue that many approaches to Christianity and culture have taken the approach of keeping out of culture altogether or completely taking it over. He argues for reforming culture in each of our lives and professions. He equates this mandate with the instructions God gave his people during the Babylonian captivity. *** Mouw gives an example of how some spheres our shrinking in the modern age (e.g., civility) and what to do about it. For example, he bemoans the loss of the family meal, and points to how churches contribute to the lack of intergenerational contact when they support age segregated youth groups and bible studies. (less)
**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: Book about how important it is to manage energy levels instead of time. One of their principles...more**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: Book about how important it is to manage energy levels instead of time. One of their principles is to develop highly specific positive energy rituals that help sustain full engagement. The steps you have to take to build a habit are to 1. define purpose, 2. face the truth, and 3. take action
One of the guiding principles behind the book is that rest and recuperation must be built into training/work. Specifically, most people have a problem with either overtraining or undertraining in relation to their level of rest. The analogy is to live life like it is a series of sprints rather than a marathon (and train accordingly). A major part of this training regimen is to expending energy beyond our regular capacity and then recovering (short-term discomfort for long-term reward).
As with many similar books, they describe the 4 levels or areas in which we must oscillate our energy use and recovery: physical, emotional mental, and spiritual. They also argue that it is important to subject ourselves to build ourselves up in each of these areas just like we build up muscles. We must expose ourselves to stress beyond our normal limits and then recuperate in order to improve in our ability to cope.
For physical energy, they advise healthy eating, high levels of breathing, and 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. They also suggest 5 to 6 highly nutritious meals a day with lots of water. Energy breaks to recover every 90 to 120 minutes are important for productive and energetic days. Lastly, interval training (where you push yourself and then break quickly) are more effective than steady-state training (where you keep the same pace for long periods of time).
For emotional energy, they suggest learning to fuel our positive emotions with self confidence, self-control, interpersonal effectiveness, and empathy. Summoning positive emotions during periods of intense stress is at the heart of effective leadership. Again, they suggest pushing ourselves in these domains and then spending sufficient time recovering doing activities that allow us to relax and recuperate.
For mental energy, they suggest training mental muscles through mental preparation, visualization, positive self talk, effective time management and creativity. Taking mental breaks during the day from tough tasks is just as important as taking physical breaks. Extending work periods causes mental stagnation and breakdown rather than "powering through" slow periods.
Spiritual energy is less precisely covered, but the basic idea is to incorporate and attach deeply held values and beliefs to daily tasks (beyond our self interest). Expanding spiritual capacity involves pushing past our comfort zone in the same way that expanding physical capacity does.
One of the most important techniques they discuss for building up energy levels is through the development of habits and rituals. These allow us to free up important resources for self control and goal attention by allowing us to center ourselves when our energy gets depleted or we get stressed. Habits don't require resources, so we can use them to build us up on a regular basis. A simple ritual that connects us to our purpose (professional, personal, etc.) each day allows us to see the forest instead of just the trees from day to day. (e.g., quiet reading time in the morning, book of Proverbs, journaling, praying, meditation, reading over personal mission statement, etc.).
Our intentions should be framed as "doing" statements instead of "not doing" statements. We should also work in incremental changes since it is difficult to change entrenched behaviors quickly. "Charting the course" every day helps us map our vision and reminds us to build the components of our day around maintaining that vision. Charting our progress is part of this vision that builds us up and helps us to stay motivated over the long run. (less)
Setting Goals 1. Decide exactly what you want 2. Write it down 3. Set a deadline on your goal (and subd...more**spoiler alert** These are my notes and summary:
Setting Goals 1. Decide exactly what you want 2. Write it down 3. Set a deadline on your goal (and subdeadlines) 4. Make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal. 5. Organize the list into a plan. 6. Take action on your plan immediately. 7. Resolve to do something every single day that moves you towards your major goal.
Goal activity: Take a clean sheet of paper and make a list of ten goals you want accomplish in the next year. Write them as if they are already a reality. Review your goals and select the one goal that would have the greatest positive impact on your life. Then follow the complete exercise for implementing a goal on that particular one.
The title of the book refers to those tasks which seem especially undesirable or those that hold you back. The author argues that we should always tackle those tasks first
Some general tips: 1. Think on paper. 2. One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all. 3. Follow the 80/20 rule in terms of tasks. 20% of your tasks provide 80% of your productivity 4. Resist the temptation to clear up small things first. 5. There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do – start choosing which things are your most important responsibilities. 6. What one skill, if I developed and did it well, would have the greatest positive impact on my career? 7. Create an environment that predisposes you to work on the task at hand. 8. Refuse to be a slave to technology (e.g., e-mail). 8. Build up a sense of momentum in your work; this will help you tackle the biggest frog on even the worst day.
Three questions for maximum productivity: 1. What are my highest value activities? 2. What can I and only I do that if done well will make a real difference? 3. What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
Practice detecting important tasks: make a list of all tasks that need to be completed, choose the 1 thing that would contribute the greatest value if you could only do one thing all day. Then choose the 2nd, then choose the 3rd. You must keep cutting your list of duties (delegating, etc.) until you are spending nearly all of your time on these 3 things. Do this same exercise for most important family goals, health goals, etc.(less)
**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: ***The author goes through several examples of how water is treated in different parts of the wor...more**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: ***The author goes through several examples of how water is treated in different parts of the world, different cities, and in difference situations. Overall, he argues that our water supply is in such danger in so many places because people take water for granted. They don’t even think about it despite it being one of our most basic needs. This leads us to waste it, mismanage it, and fail to put resources into maintaining our water supply for the future. Only once crisis hits to we finally start to pay attention to how we use water and where it comes from.
***Chapter topics: In “Dolphins in the Desert”, Fishman covers the evolution of water policy in Las Vegas. Despite being in the middle of the desert and full of water extravagance, it has developed some of the most sophisticated water reusing systems in the world. - In “Water Under Water”, Fishman explains the complexity of making water supplies disaster proof as he profiles Galveston, TX, after Hurricane Ike. - In “The Money in the Pipes” he profiles several large companies that are at the forefront of water conservation and reuse because they use it in such a large scale. – In “The Yuck Factor” he profiles how important changing attitudes toward water can be when trying to implement new water reuse methods. One city in Australia nearly ran out of water because its citizens couldn’t accept the idea of reusing treated sewer water. – In “Who Stopped the Rain” he talks about Australia, which has been going through a great drought in the last decade or so. This has precipitated several water crises from farming to urban supply. The primary problem is overuse of its rivers and planning based on high-water years instead of the contemporary average. – In “Where Water is Worshipped, but Gets no Respect” he talks about India and how atrocious their water situation is for nearly everyone, rich and poor. Very few cities have 24/7 water supplies, even for well-off people, and the majority of the country suffers from huge productivity and education losses because so much time is spent hand-carrying water for daily needs. He also goes into the major health problems that result from contaminated water and ink-black rivers. E.g., There is so much dangerous bacteria and pollution that one eye-dropper of water from the Yamuna or Ganges River put into six bathtubs full of water would be enough to make it unsafe to sit in. – In “It’s Water. Of Course It’s Free” he summarizes the problem with most attitudes toward water. Unless we start to recognize it as a real resource that requires respect and serious attention, we will continue to stumble into major shortages and conflicts over water. Water is not a global problem in the sense that you can influence water problems across the world, but it is the combination of a million different local problems regarding water that makes it a global concern.
***The 300,000 gallons of water used during a space shuttle launch is not for cooling, but for sound dampening. Otherwise the sound shock waves would tear the shuttle apart.
***The biggest use of water in the home is toilet flushing. We flush on average around 5 times a day which is about 18.5 gallons
***The fundamental problem with water is that it cannot be used up, but it is not equally available in all locations. How and where it is available in usable form varies dramatically and can be very unpredictable. So what this means is that all water problems are local in the sense that saving water in your home isn't going to directly help water-started villages in India. This is very different from many other environmental issues, like carbon footprints or gasoline use.
***Patricia Mulroy (the Las Vegas water czar) suggested to Obama a huge public works program to create a series of canals to capture and divert Mississippi floodwaters so it would both reduce natural disasters and send excess water to places that need it.
***At IBM Burlington, they create what is known as "ultra-pure water" which is hundreds of times cleaner than distilled or purified water. They use complex filtration systems to remove every molecule from water so that the pure water can pull microscopic particles from microchips. The smaller the chip, the more pure the water must be. It is very expensive to create, and in fact, would be dangerous to drink in large quantities. Water is such a good solvent, its molecules are filled with all kinds of minerals, etc. If you remove the minerals, etc. it will try to pull molecules out of anything it comes in contact with, including the nutrients in our body.
***Celebrity Cruise ships have a huge ice expense to create enough ice to cool all of the food/beverages on a typical cruise. One way they have reduced the cost is to no longer use ice, but to cool rocks that retain temperature well enough to cool the food.
***The author details an economic model for water designed by Mike Young to better allocate water resources. In the shape of a water glass, each layer of water is designated for a particular purpose. The first layer is “maintenance water” that is just enough necessary to maintain the environmental system. This is already a problem in many rivers where dams have to be built to keep ocean water from heading back up dry river beds. The second layer of water is “critical human needs” such as drinking, bathing, and basic water services. These two layers are guaranteed, but the next two layers are determined by economics. The first is the high security layer, which demands a high premium cost, and the second is low security, which costs less. Then it becomes a risk calculation process about how much you want to invest in water and whether you want to take the risk that your water layer might run out. If water runs low, the low security customers lose it first, then high security. (less)
**spoiler alert** MY SUMMARY AND NOTES: The authors replicated Mischel’s marshmallow study and taught some participants to use distraction and distanc...more**spoiler alert** MY SUMMARY AND NOTES: The authors replicated Mischel’s marshmallow study and taught some participants to use distraction and distance techniques and showed that self regulation scores changed tremendously. They have footage of their experiments on changeanything.com/exclusive website.
***The authors argue that there are six sources of influence: 1. Personal motivation – interrupt your impulses by connecting actions to goals during crucial moments. 2. Personal ability – learn new skills to change persistent and resistant habits 3. Social motivation – if those around us model and encourage bad habits we are likely to maintain them; turn accomplices into friends 4. Social ability – deeply entrenched habits require real support from others (e.g., a coach). 5. Structural motivation – Make use of things; directly link short-term rewards and punishments to new habits 6. Structural ability – small changes in your environment can have a surprising effect on your choices; add a few visual cues that help you focus on your goals
***Social science of personal change: 1. Identify crucial moments – focus on the handful of moments when you’re most at risk; where do you face the most temptation 2. Create vital behaviors – create rules to follow when temptation pays you a visit (e.g., implementation intentions and contingencies for when you fail). 3. Engage all six sources of influence 4. Turn bad days into good data – use failure as a learning experience – note what happens when you fail and adjust methods accordingly (START TAKING NOTES).
***The authors mention the benefit of a “motivational interview” asking a person the future he/she would like to live, how they were going to get there, and so forth. This requires the person to create the default (where you’ll end up if you keep going this way) and desired futures.
***1. Personal/motivation: Visit your default future (how you will end up if you continue in this direction 1. Tell the whole vivid story - be descriptive about where you will end up so it sticks in your head 2. Use value words - connect your goal with a really important "why" for what standard you are adhering to 3. Make it a game - set up a time frame or small milestones or make it a competition 4. Create a personal motivation statement - during crucial moments reconnect with your motivation through your statement that incorporates all of the previous parts of your personal motivation
***2. Personal/ability: Do what you can't: 1. Start with a skill scan – figure out what skills you do have, and if you have the ones necessary to complete your plan 2. Employ deliberate practice – what are the component parts of the skill you are learning; break them down and practice each deliberately 3. Learn the will skill – determine your tempting scenarios and discover how to avoid them and practice withstanding them.
***Another famous obedience study: Orne & Evans (1965) JPSP – social control in the psychological experiment
***3.&4. Social motivation/ability: Summary of turning accomplices into friends: 1. Be aware of who is going to help encourage vs. discourage you towards your goals. 2. Redefine "normal" to fit with your new goals. 3. Hold a transformation conversation with close others about your new goals. 4. Add new friends, 5. and distance yourself from the unwilling.
***On loss aversion - study done by authors on iPhone - if you just bought one, it would take $1218 more than purchase price to sell, but if they hadn't bought one yet, they would only pay $97 more than purchase price in order to make sure they got one.
***When creating rewards for yourself when working towards a goal, make sure the rewards come during the pursuit (after achievement of small goals) rather than a reward for your final goal.
***5. Structural/motivation: invert the economy: 1. Use carrots and the threat of losing carrots, 2. use incentives in moderation and in combination (so you aren't doing it solely for the rewards), 3. and reward small wins (i.e., don't just have a reward for at the end of the goal, they are much more effective is used throughout).
***6. Structural/ability: control your space: 1. Build fences - set rules to keep you acting in healthy ways. Don't use fences as sole source for change or you will relapse when they are gone. 2. Manage distance - remove bad things from your immediate environment and keep good things closer. Your physical space determines a lot of how you behave. 3. Change cues - reminders for things you want to be doing and remove reminders of bad behaviors. Especially important where you crucial moments take place. 4. Engage your autopilot so the positive path is the path of least resistance (ie, it would take more effort not to follow the path). 5. Use tools like electronic reminders, etc. to help you stick to your goals. (less)
**spoiler alert** My notes and summary: ***He begins with references to other books that have dealt with the issue of colleges with Christian heritage...more**spoiler alert** My notes and summary: ***He begins with references to other books that have dealt with the issue of colleges with Christian heritage such as James Burtchaell's "The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universiteis from Their Christian Churches" and Hughes and Adrian's "Models for Christian Higher Education: Strategies for Success in the 21st Century".
***He distinguishes three domains that dictate the relationship of a college with its Christian roots: Persons, Ethos, & Vision. Persons regards the makeup of the student body (there are few examples of Christian colleges that maintain a dominant population of their specific denomination as students). This also relates to the denominational requirements of faculty and administrators. For ethos, it is referring to things like required chapel attendance and behavior rules for the students and faculty. Lastly, vision refers to the purpose and mission of the college and how closely it relates to a Biblical/denominational purpose. This has always been the weakest of the three at many institutions, and often contributes to the degradation of the other two domains.
He briefly explains the impact of the Enlightenment on religious thought. Specifically, the epistemological disagreement about how we know the religious and moral truths that guide us. The Enlightenment claimed it was not through revelation, but through reason and science. This created a path that put the pursuit of Truth in the hands of man instead of relying on Holy Scripture.
***He mentions the LCMS and the Concordia system a few times, but it sounds like Burtchaell talks about them more at length in his book. Burtachaell states: “As regards right doctrine (the Missouri obsession), conformity was traded off heavily against energetic articulation or exploration, so although theology was the premier discipline at the colleges, it was not particularly biblical in its development or scholarly in its outcome.” P45
***Benne uses the framework of three factors to assess the trajectory of six different schools: a Reformed college (Calvin), an evangelical college (Wheaton), two Lutheran schools (St. Olaf – ELCA; Valparaiso – closest to LCMS), a Catholic university (Notre Dame), and a Baptist university (Baylor).
***More detail regarding the history of the Missouri Synod. Founded in 1847 by two separate groups of German immigrants – one group from Saxony (Walther) and one from Franconia (Loehe), it has grown from the original 12 congregations to 2.6 million members. One of the reasons it generated so many parochial schools was to maintain German heritage and orthodoxy. He describes it as having “a sharp and clear identity and sense of mission that has made it a strong tradition even after it shed some of its strong German ethnicity.” As the church acculturated, however, there was a reactionary quasi-fundamentalist movement in the late 60’s that led to the big split in the 70’s. The denominational bureaucracy was taken over by the successful quasi-fundamentalist movement. They then purged the schools and churches of outspoken dissenters who formed the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (which eventually joined the ELCA in 1988). Valparaiso, despite being an LCMS school, has weathered these storms because it is an independent Lutheran institution. They continue to have an uneasy alliance with the LCMS.
***The Reformed worldview states that all human faculties have been affected by the fall, including human reason. While non-Christian learning can contain truths about the world, there is a strong tendency for it to be distorted by human fallibility and sin. Thus, it cannot be taught without a Christian critique to young Christians. It is assumed in this "Reformed epistemology" that the biblical worldview, interpreted by Reformed theology, is true. So any conflicts between secular knowledge and the Christian approach must be "redeemed" by Christian scholarship. So, in theory, each field of learning can be transformed into genuine Christian knowledge (such as Christian sociology and Christian economics). This worldview analysis is what goes on in the classroom at Reformed colleges. It requires an examination of the underlying assumptions of many fields of study (e.g., views on free will) in order for the knowledge to be "claimed for Christ".
***For an analysis of of the social sciences as anti-theologies see John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason.
***One of the reasons the Lutheran schools he profiles are reluctant to codify a detailed blueprint of the Christian life is because Lutheran theology is more focused on justification than on sanctification. ***Benne describes the LCMS system as having too much sectarianism to support schools like Valparaiso.
***Some of the more "general Christian" colleges sometimes criticize places like Calvin college for not respecting any kind of secular learning. But these differences are what prevent all Christian colleges from moving towards complete secularization. C.S. Lewis argues that Christianity is like a great central hall in which we meet Christ and witness the spectacular work of God. Around the side of this grand hall are smaller rooms in which meals are served, wounds healed, skills taught, and friends made. Don't stay long in the great hall, he said; find a smaller one where there is nourishment for the mind and soul. Without that smaller hall, the great hall lacks Christian texture and specificity. p184-185.(less)
**spoiler alert** Bonhoeffer on the Christian community: “We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly,...more**spoiler alert** Bonhoeffer on the Christian community: “We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, and for all eternity. That dismisses once and for all every clamorous desire for something more. One who wants more than what Christ has established does not want Christian brotherhood. He is looking for some extraordinary social experience which he has not found elsewhere; he is bringing muddled and impure desires into Christian brotherhood. Just at this point Christian brotherhood is threatened most often at the very start by the greatest danger of all, the danger of being poisoned at its root, the danger of confusing Christian brotherhood with some wishful idea of religious fellowship, of confounding the natural desire of the devout heart for community with the spiritual reality of Christian brotherhood. In Christian brotherhood everything depends upon its being clear right from the beginning, first, that Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality. Second, that Christian brotherhood is a spiritual and not a psychic reality.” – Not an Ideal but a Divine Reality – “Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community its4elf becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial. God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself. Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by His call, by His forgiveness, and His promise. We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what He does give us daily. And is not what has been given us enough: brothers, who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of His grace? Is the divine gift of Christian fellowship anything less than this, any day, even the most difficult and distressing day? Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together – the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship.” P26-29
*** On moving others: “Thus the spiritual love will speak to Christ about a brother more than to a brother about Christ. It knows that the most direct way to others is always through prayer to Christ and that love of others is wholly dependent upon the truth in Christ.” P36-37
*** On fellowship and loneliness: “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. … Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God.” … “But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone, even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ.” P77
*** On our daily meditation with God, Bonhoeffer distinguishes 3 parts: 1. meditating repeatedly on a single piece of scripture to discern personal meaning, 2. Prayer, which he mentions praying about the objects that come to mind when your mind wanders (incorporating those thoughts into prayer), and 3. Intercession, praying specifically for those around you, repeatedly day after day, and especially for those for whom you hold ill will or have disagreements with.
*** “Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship.” P94
*** Bonhoeffer on the desire for charismatic preachers: “Ultimately, this hankering for false authority has at its root a desire to re-establish some sort of immediacy, a dependence upon human beings in the Church. Genuine authority knows that all immediacy is especially baneful in matters of authority. Genuine authority realizes that it can exist only in the service of Him who alone has authority. Genuine authority knows that it is bound in the strictest sense by the saying of Jesus: “One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren” (Matt. 23:8). The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren. Not in the former but in the latter is the lack. The Church will place its confidence only in the simple servant of the Word of Jesus Christ because it knows that then it will be guided, not according to human wisdom and human conceit, but by the Word of the Good Shepherd.“ P109(less)
**spoiler alert** Foer is a journalist who covers the U.S. and world memory championships and consequently spends a year training to compete in the ev...more**spoiler alert** Foer is a journalist who covers the U.S. and world memory championships and consequently spends a year training to compete in the event himself. The book covers many of the basic memory techniques these “super-memorizers” use, along with giving a brief overview of the history of memorization and unusual cases of extreme memory. In the end, Foer ends up winning the U.S. championship and placing 13th in the world competition (Europeans dominate the world championship).
***The primary memorizing method comes from an ancient Greek poet named Simonides, and it’s called the “memory palace”. It requires that you turn anything you want to memorize into a physical and spatial representation. Specifically, you can use physical locations to place each item in memory (e.g., imagine a walk through the house you grew up in). Then, each item gets placed in a room (while doing uniquely memorable activities) so to recall the list all you have to do is stroll through the house/palace and you can see everything happen in order. This takes advantage of our brain’s superior spatial memory instead of trying to memorize arbitrary lists/names/digits by rote. There is an upfront cost of turning objects/lists into unique characters and memorizing various palaces, but once you do it, you can increase your memory exponentially.
*** One of the most common methods for memorizing numbers is the “Major system” invented by Johann Winkelmann in 1648. It is a simple code to convert numbers into phonetic sounds. The sounds can then be turned into words, which can become images for a memory palace. The code is: 0 = S, 1 = T or D, 2 = N, 3 = M, 4 = R, 5 = L, 6 = Sh or Ch, 7 = K or G, 8 = F or V, 9 = P or B. The number 32, for example, would translate into MN. To make the consonants meaningful, you’re allowed to freely intersperse vowels, so MN could be ‘MAN’. This system isn’t complex enough for memorizing competitions, but works well for less extreme memorization.
*** He has a section on competitive training as well, specifically when he reaches his “OK plateau” in training. That means that he has improved his memory a great deal, but he hits a wall where he doesn’t get any better. This happens with any kind of practice because all of the parts of the process become automatic. Once they become automatic (because you have become competent at the basic task/sport), then you no longer use your conscious mind to improve your performance (this is why most people don’t improve their typing speed after they reach their plateau). This is where deliberate practice comes in. In order to continue to improve, you have to turn training back over to your conscious mind. You can do this by putting yourself in more difficult situations or focusing on more difficult routines, etc. The author does this by forcing himself to memorize at a rate faster than he is comfortable with. Deliberate practice, by definitions, must be hard. This is also the difference between experts and amateurs in any given field. Disciplines with the best experts are going to be the ones who receive the greatest amount of feedback. This is why doctors who do mammograms don’t get better with time (too long of delay before they get feedback) and surgeons get better with time (immediate feedback).
*** On why knowledge (or basic memory) is so important for increasing one’s understanding of the world: “The more tightly any new piece of information can be embedded into the web of information we already know, the more likely it is to be remembered. People who have more associations to hang their memories on are more likely to remember new things, which in turn means they will know more, and be able to learn more. The more we remember, the better we are at processing the world. And the better we are at processing the world, the more we can remember about it.” P209.
*** Throughout the book, the author covers several unusual cases of memory. Some examples: HM, who could not develop new long-term memories (and EP, who is even more severe than HM, but who lost his brain structures to a virus instead of surgery like HM). The journalist “S” who in 1928 was shown to have an astounding memory for everything he experienced (he had synesthesia so he automatically turned letters, numbers, etc. into visual objects, and thus, had nearly perfect memory as a result). He also covers expertise and automatic processing through examples like “chicken sexers” who go through years of training to be able to detect the sex of a baby chick. He works with K. Anders Ericsson, who is a researcher on memory, for much of his scientific knowledge about memory. He also interview Tony Buzan, the self-help memory and mind-map guru who started the memory championships and markets his memory systems all over the world. He also covers savants like Kim Peek, who typically have a major neurological disorder (like autism), often in their left hemisphere. In fact, using the magnetic manipulation of the brain, people have been made to become more creative when their right hemispheres are suppressed. One exception is Daniel Tammet who does not suffer major social or physical disorders (although he used to have more severe Aspergers when he was younger). The author implies that many of Tammet’s feats could be done through training, and that he might not really be a savant. There is a documentary called “Brainman” about Tammet. (less)
**spoiler alert** My notes and summary: p.xv – He tells a story of a professor of philosophy (Emile Cailliet) would served in WWI looking for answers...more**spoiler alert** My notes and summary: p.xv – He tells a story of a professor of philosophy (Emile Cailliet) would served in WWI looking for answers after watching so many people die. He started reading literature, etc. and was looking for a book that “understood him”. Whenever he found a book, quote, etc. that spoke to his condition he marked it down and thought when he compiled all of this wisdom he’d have things figured out. After reading his bits of wisdom, he realized that each piece only reminded him of his situation when he was reading it, not giving him real wisdom. Only later on when his wife came home with a copy of the Bible and he started reading the gospels did he feel that he found a book that would understand him.
p.14 – The word “gospel” was used in ancient times to simply means world-changing news. That’s why there also existed “the gospel according to Caesar Augustus” because it was the story of the most important person in the Roman world.
p.15 - The essence of all other religions is advice. Christianity is essentially news (gospel was news of an event that changed things in a meaningful way). Other religions say this is what you have to do in order to connect to God or earn your way to God. The gospel just says, this is what has been done in history.
p.19 – He talks about how in traditional cultures most people get their identity from their families so when Jesus asks Simon and Andrew to leave their families it is truly revolutionary and disruptive. In modern culture, our identity is often associated with our profession so when Jesus asks us to put Him over our career, that is equally drastic.
p.73 – He discusses Kafka’s book “The Trial” about a guy who is arrested and not told what he did. He continually guesses what it might be for. He argues that today’s world, where no one believes in God or sin is similar. Despite not believing in these things people continually ask themselves why they feel guilty and think something is wrong with us. In other words, we don’t believe in sin, judgment, and guilt, but somehow we know we are unclean. Most people spend their lives trying to make themselves worth something through their work or relationships, but it is never enough.
p.124 – Discussing the shift of Christianity over the ages, he points out how in the future it is likely to shift from Europe and the U.S. to other continents. Andrew Walls explains this as the “fragility of Christianity”. The heart of the gospel is the cross, and the cross is all about giving up power, pouring out resources, and serving. When Christianity is in a place of power and wealth for a long time the message often becomes muted and turned into a nice safe message for respectable people who try to be good. Hence, the true message of Christ becomes dormant and moves to other places hungry for the true Word. (e.g., Mark 10:17).
p.130 – In talking about how Jesus talked to the rich man in Mark 10:18 he points out the use of the word “good”. Jesus is trying to explain that believing in Him is not the same as being religious and following rules. The man is living like God is his boss, but not like Jesus is his savior. Jesus asks him to imagine a world without his wealth, power, etc., a world where he only has Jesus, and asks him if he can live like that.
p.140 – Another distinction of Christianity is that Jesus didn’t come into the world to give advice and be an example, He came to give His life. Jesus came to ransom himself, or “to buy the freedom of a slave or a prisoner.” This is a different kind of sacrifice from other versions of sacrifice in ancient times. Jesus didn’t have to die despite God’s love; he had to die because of God’s love. All life-changing love is substitutionary sacrifice. Love only counts when it costs you something.
p.148 – Talking about humility and love he discusses serving others. Instead of helping others through gaining power and influence, God calls us to change hearts through serving others. In other words, be so sacrificially loving that the people around you, who don’t believe what you believe, will soon be unable to imagine the place without you. They’ll trust you because they see that you’re not only out for yourself, but out for them too.
p.150 – In talking about the message of positive psychology and its call to help others in order to be happy he points out the contradiction of wanting to be unselfish for selfish reasons. Christianity, instead, argues that understanding that God saves us by His gift, and nothing we can do adds or subtracts from that allows us to help people because we truly want to (instead of needing to for a selfish reason). Whether you think a person is worthy of your service doesn’t matter, it’s a gift just like Christ gave us a gift we didn’t deserve.(less)