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  • Writer's pictureTy Rostvedt

Thinking About Thinking

How much does the average adult male walrus weigh? Which team won the Stanley Cup in 1972? Where is Bangladesh located? Why is it that when we transport something by car, it’s called a shipment, but when it travels by ship, it’s called cargo?

Do you know these answers? I’m sure a quick search online could give you the answers to these questions or you could ask Alexa or Siri or any of those gals many have invited to live in their homes. In fact, the answer to just about any question you can imagine can be found online. Google is just waiting to answer questions about the Ancient Roman Empire or what other movies Chris Pratt has been in or how to get rid of this blemish on my face (again).

Asking questions is a good thing. It shows curiosity and lays the groundwork for teachers to teach and learners to learn. My kids ask questions all the time like “Dad, how does a baby come out of a mommy?” My quick-witted reply, “Well, uh, you see, uh... ask Alexa.”

Scratching the curiosity itch is part of being human and questions are how we get there. Now here’s another question to consider: Is it possible to have too much information? Everything from television, to our smartphones, to the internet offers us fragmented information bits. Unfortunately, it’s all geared toward giving you a temporary burst of excitement or satisfying some level of curiosity, but can leave you asking another question: “What the point?” Then it’s on to the next attention-grabbing item, disconnected from what preceded it, thereby making most everything we consume forgettable because the brain doesn’t retain information this way. It’s like running from one work-out machine to the next, while only spending 30 seconds at each one. Muscles aren’t strengthened that way. (Though it would be good cardio.) Muscles are strengthened by repetition. The same holds true with the brain.

The other result of all this information overload is a brain focused on trivial information rather than asking more important questions. Questions like, “Why am I here?” “Is there a God?” “What is life all about?” In other words, it can keep us from thinking deeply.

Years ago, in Australia, a respected pastor went onto a highly-rated morning television show in order to get viewers thinking about these very questions. He advocated for viewers to stop and think about the things that matter in life. Immediately, after he was done, the morning show switched over to K-Pop star, Psy, who performed his viral-mega hit “Gangnam Style” in a nearby plaza. Uh, yeah, think deeply, but first watch this man dance like a horse. (Not exactly helping your cause there.)

Now I’m all for having fun, and you may even catch me dancing to family-friendly music videos with my kids, but this year I’m committing myself to reading more books. Books that help me think clearly and systematically. Books that force me to think deeply about important subjects where I can exercise my brain to draw logical conclusions. These types of books can lead us to engage with one another in conversations where we can respectfully disagree and still enjoy one another’s company. Do I believe the Bible is the Word of God? Yes, absolutely. Is that logical and rational? You bet it is. Does this truth also bring my life purpose and wholeness? Double yes. You want to talk about it? Maybe we could someday over coffee. I’d love that. In fact, I’m sure there are plenty of people around here that would love that.

So, here’s to thinking about thinking. Maybe in 2020 you can take some time with me to reflect about the big questions of life. Questions Alexa can’t answer. Have a Happy New Year. Now, where is that world map? I need to find Bangladesh.

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