“Much in cultural engagement hangs on wisdom and virtue rather than a list of rules or universal plan that we might extract from the Bible.” Joshua D. Chatraw & Karen Swallow Prior, Cultural Engagement
“Of all its benefits, one of the drawbacks of the digital age is how easily we mistake information for knowledge….The goal of discernment is not to simply avoid evil in this life, it is to learn what is good so that we might embrace and enjoy it.” Hannah Anderson, All That’s Good
We have more information than ever, and yet it seems we’re less discerning than ever. Maybe those two go hand-in-hand, as the amount of information and the mediums we receive that information from (primarily online and through social-media) don’t prioritize wisdom.
In an age of fake news, alternative opinions, echo chambers, tribalism, information overload, cancel culture, and hot takes, taking the time to diligently study issues, consider various views, compare it with biblical teaching, and reflect on the nuances and complexities of those issues before arriving at an opinion–and sharing it–seems to rarely happen. It’s much easier to simply read one article that says what I like (or even just read the headline) and quickly share it with everyone. It feels good. But does it cultivate discernment and diligence? Does it over-simply issues or honestly reflect nuance? Wisdom is in short supply, but let’s do what we can to try and reclaim it.
Below are a few recommended resources on growing in discernment and wisdom, including how we take in information, where we get it from, and what we do with it.
- “How to More Wisely Consume News” by Bryan Weynand
- “How to Thrive in a Post-Truth, Alternative Facts, Fake-News World” by Brett McCracken
- “Watch Your (Knowledge) Diet in the COVID-19 Crisis” by Brett McCracken. Look out for his upcoming book in early 2021 on the Wisdom Pyramid.
- “10 Ways to Renew Your Mind” by Dustin Crowe
- “Learn to Love All That’s Good” by Hannah Anderson
- “10 Habits of Discerning People” by Hannah Anderson
- “We All Live in Marx’s World Now” by Carl Trueman
- All That’s Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment (quoted at the top) by Hannah Anderson
- Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age by Alan Noble. The whole book is good, but Chapters 1-2 are excellent for understanding the intellectual and epistemological challenges today.
- Cultural Engagement by Joshua D. Chatraw & Karen Swallow Prior. Chapter Three on engage culture virtuously lays out the importance of diligence. Here’s an extended quote (also see the quote at the top).
“In the age of the ‘hot take,’ when everyone is expected to have an opinion on the issue of the day and silence is too often assumed to equal indifference, it is tempting to weigh in on everything, regardless of how little we actually know about the topic.
To be diligent, however, requires that we apply care and attention to the matters we choose to engage in.
…Nowhere is this vice more evident in cultural engagement than in our tendency to assume or adopt an opinion without diligent research and understanding. Less harmful, perhaps, but even more common is the practice of carelessly sharing an article on social media without reading it or vetting the source, something most of us are guilty of from time to time. It probably is safe to say that the ‘fake news’ phenomenon is due almost entirely to a lack in the virtue of diligence.
No one can be an expert in everything. But we can choose to be more knowledgeable about some of the issues that most define and vex the current culture. To practice the virtue of diligence requires that we approach issues we choose to engage with the care and attention due them—and to refrain from ironclad pronouncements when that care and attention reveal our need for another virtue: humility.” Joshua D. Chatraw & Karen Swallow Prior, Cultural Engagement