Recorded, our new narrative podcast, begins with a two-part miniseries called “Remembering 9/11.”

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The following quotes caught my attention as I read Brett McCracken’s excellent book The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World (Crossway, 2021).


Our world has more information, but less and less wisdom. More data; less clarity. More stimulation; less synthesis. More distraction; less stillness. More pontificating; less pondering. More opinion; less research. More speaking; less listening. More to look at; less to see. More amusements; less joy. There is more, but we are less. (11)

Everyone has a megaphone, but no one has a filter. . . . How can Christians become storehouses of wisdom in this era when more and more sickly people will be looking for a cure? (12)

Without God as an ultimate standard of truth, all we have are “truths” as interpreted by individuals. To each their own. You do you. It’s no wonder we are now as confused as we are. Do away with God, and you do away with truth. (14)

The cumulative effect of too much information—so easily and constantly accessible to us—creates a burden that our minds and souls were not created to bear. (29)

As we are consumed by the “far away” dramas of our social media spaces, we neglect the tangible realities of our immediate place—the local news, proximate debates, and immediate problems we could more meaningfully address. (32)

When our tastes change, so do our commitments. Just as on Netflix we might only make it through two episodes of a series, or 20 minutes of a movie, before we lose interest and switch to something else, so do we approach church and spirituality as a fluid thing that should adapt to our shifting needs and moods. (34)

If “personhood” or the “real self” is not fundamentally connected to the physical body, it can be easy to claim that mere bodies (e.g., fetuses or people on feeding tubes) are not “persons” in any sense worth fighting for. . . . Disconnection from the realities of the physical world makes it easier to ignore the physical body in the conception of self. (57, 59)

We don’t get to choose whether or not something is true. We don’t invent truth. We don’t determine it. We search it out and accept it with gratitude, even when it’s at odds with our feelings or preferences. (61)

The Bible is our most important source of wisdom because it is literally the eternal God—the standard and source of all truth—revealing himself. What a miraculous thing! Yet sadly many of us are bored by it, struggling to read it habitually, if at all. Our Bibles collect dust in a dark corner of our rooms while our Facebook feeds are constantly refreshed. When most of us start our days (myself included!), we read emails and tweets before we read the words of God. (73)

For a lot of “good vibes only” young people who have been reared on technology that allows them to filter out anything difficult or annoying, church and its motley crew of often-frustrating people might seem like more trouble than it’s worth. (87)

A faithful, Christ-centered church and its wisdom-infusing patterns of worship is increasingly a refuge for those being pummeled by the maelstrom of our digital era. It certainly is for me. By the time Sunday rolls around each week, I feel desperate for it: desperate to be around real, flesh-and-blood community after spending my week mostly interacting with people through screens; desperate to be transported from the fickle and fleeting debates of social media and into a space of worship that glimpses the eternal. (88)

A church community frees you from the crushing weight of self-obsession. It frees you to be part of something bigger than yourself, with people who are not like you. It frees you from the bias-confirming bubbles of only being exposed to like-minded people who always affirm but never challenge you. It frees you from the burden of being accountable only to yourself: what you believe, how you like to worship, how you interpret the Bible, how you want to live and so on. When we are the only authority on these things, it’s hard to become wise. (88–89)

In an age of nauseating narcissism where everyone clamors for stardom and Instagram likes, the church humbles us and weekly reminds us: this is not about you. This is about God. You are welcome here, you are wanted, your presence in the body is important. You are part of the story. But God is the star, not you. What a freeing and wonderful thing. (91)

In a world that is constantly on the move, church worship forces us to be still. In a “quick to speak” world that is deafeningly loud, church worship allows us to sit quietly and listen, basking in God’s word preached and his wisdom imparted. In a world where we spend way too much time talking about ourselves—on social media, blogs, YouTube, and so forth—church worship allows us to talk about God and to God. (91)

Every prayer is a rebuttal to the “look within” logic of our age. To pray is to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers in ourselves. We don’t have sufficient wisdom to make complex decisions. (92)

We simply need to know our story and place ourselves within it, understanding that the strength of the church is continuity rather than constant reinvention, transcendence rather than trendiness. We need churches to be less concerned with being “up on the times” than being connected to the timeless. We need churches that are shaped by the gospel more than by the zeitgeist. At its best, the church takes us out of the uncertainty of the ephemeral and places us in the certainty of the eternal. It reminds us of our destiny and puts the latest social media obsessions into perspective. Everything ever tweeted and the most-viewed viral videos will be forgotten ashes in the embers of history, but the church will remain. (99)

This is one of the most important lessons of nature—we are creatures and not the Creator. Our bodies, and the natural world, are not just playthings to manipulate and modify to suit our wills; they are gifts to accept, respect, and carefully steward. And yet this is a lesson lost on many today, who assume an autonomy that denies our creatureliness. It is the height of contradiction that vast segments of the pro-environment population—who rightly recognize the harm in genetically modified vegetables, inorganic chemical fertilizers, and so forth—are also advocates for the chemical and surgical manipulation that allow humans to “modify” their hormones and sexual organs. Surely if “organic” is best in strawberries and kale, it is also best in humans. (111)

At a time when the glut, speed, and tailored-to-you nature of information is making us ever more prone to misinformation and unsound wisdom, reading books offers a powerful antidote. Books confront the “too much information” problem by focusing our attention on one thing for a longer, deeper time. They confront the “too fast” problem by forcing us to sit with one writer’s perspective for long enough to really grapple with it. Books challenge the “too focused on me” problem by putting us in another’s shoes. (122)

Use the Internet to turn what you love into something that blesses others, rather than turning what you hate into something that angers others. What would happen if everyone started to use the Internet more to celebrate the good than to add to the noise with hateful tweets and trigger-happy rants? What would happen if we used our online platforms to praise others rather than for promoting our own views and signaling our own virtue? What if we spent more time online publicly honoring people we do know than publicly shaming people we don’t? (154)

Wisdom is the confidence that God is always on, but we aren’t. . . . Sleep is, in fact, practice for death. How genius it was of God to build this circadian rhythm into our wiring—a daily reminder of our frailty and mortality. When we lie down flat, eyes closed, we look like corpses. When we sleep we are in a mysterious realm between life and death—perfectly still and impressionable, in some ways more attentive than in waking life. God created rest and sleep for our wisdom. Embrace it! You may miss out on what’s #Trending online, but that’s okay. You’ll be wiser for having slept through it. (160)

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