I tend to read too many books at a time, sometimes. I have six going right now, which is clearly too many:
E.I. Wong, Poet Robot
Kevin Wignal, A Death in Sweden
David Weber, On Basilisk Station
David Mitchell, Ghostwritten
Lisa Randall, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs
Os Guinness, Fool’s Talk
I’m a little stalled on Guinness and Randall, but I’ll finish.
I promise I will give you some thoughts on Adam Roberts, The Thing Itself, and Sarah Hepola, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, each of which were fascinating (but in very different ways).
Os Guinness observes with dismay that the modern Western obsession with “the magic of technique,” leads us to focus almost exclusively on the application question — what preachers call the “So what?” of a sermon:
“All good thinking is a matter of asking and answering three elementary questions. What is being said? Is it true? What of it? Yet one of the curious experiences of speaking in many places in the West is an almost universal preoccupation with the last question, as if audiences were incapable of answering it for themselves. A speaker must therefore provide ready-made ‘take home values,’ ‘next steps,’ ‘measurable outcomes’ and the like. I sometimes wonder if some audiences raise the first two questions at all, and I am far from certain that such insistence on formulas and recipes for action really leads to more decisive action in practice. But the hosts and chairpersons in many events act as if without spelling out all the next steps, audiences would be cruelly short-changed.”
Os Guinness, Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion (Kindle Locations 370-375). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
Everyone defends their viewpoint, says Os Guinness in a fascinating new book:
“From the shortest texts and tweets to the humblest website, to the angriest blog, to the most visited social networks, the daily communications of the wired world attest that everyone is now in the business of relentless self-promotion— presenting themselves, explaining themselves, defending themselves, selling themselves or sharing their inner thoughts and emotions as never before in human history. That is why it can be said that we are in the grand secular age of apologetics.” Guinness, Os. Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion (Kindle Locations 153-156). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
The Christian consensus has collapsed, and much of the rise of the so-called religious Nones is really the falling away of people who were only loosely attached to a church tradition. So there is a grand moment of clarification, and among the many things we need to clarify is our ability to communicate. Much of our witnessing, on the one hand, assumes that people are open and needy. It also assumes a whole series of formulae or recipes. I would argue that Jesus never talked to two people in the same way, and neither should we. So as part of the grand clarification of our generation, this is a time to reexamine our communication and see if it is as biblical as it should be.