October 30, 2013

"I'm just bad at math..." it's a myth!

When I first started teaching, I began to encounter the "I'm just bad at math..." comment from a variety of students. I didn't find it helpful to the situation, but what was I to do?  I wasn't in their head... maybe they really did have math deficit disorder, but it sure seemed like the large part of my students who would use this phrase, seemed to connect it with their inability to get their homework completed.

The longer I taught, the more I began to see a connection.  I even noticed that those students who were typically labeled the "math people" were also very diligent in their work.

Now, I know that we live in a society that isn't allowed to make a judgment call on anybody for any reason, so even talking this way tends to ruffle some feathers.  My response is that you should stop judging me by calling me judgmental!  But that is a different blog post, I just want to share an article about this myth of "bad at math" that is plaguing our nation.

The article is titled, The Myth of 'I'm Bad At Math' and it's subtitle is: Basic ability in the subject isn't the product of good genes, but hard work.

There is much in the article that I found to be worth reading, but I want to at least quote the final paragraph, because I believe that it holds a key thought that is impacting all of us.
Math education, we believe, is just the most glaring area of a slow and worrying shift. We see our country moving away from a culture of hard work toward a culture of belief in genetic determinism. In the debate between “nature vs. nurture,” a critical third element—personal perseverance and effort—seems to have been sidelined. We want to bring it back, and we think that math is the best place to start.
Let's not forget the key third element to our intellects.

October 29, 2013

Program of Conquest

Might we consider going the path of the early Christians?  What was their method for winning the Roman Empire? According to Mark Driscoll, we should consider the words of Douglas Wilson:

It will be a great reformation and revival — it will happen the same way the early Christians conquered Rome. Their program of conquest consisted largely of two elements — gospel preaching and being eaten by lions — a strategy that has not yet captured the imagination of the the contemporary church.

~Douglas Wilson, as quoted by Mark Driscoll in his new book, A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future? 

October 27, 2013

"I smoke my pipe and worship God."

Whene'er I take my pipe and stuff it
And smoke to pass the time away,
My thoughts, as I sit and puff it,
Dwell on a picture sad and grey.
It teaches me that very like
Am I myself unto my pipe. 
Like me, this pipe so fragrant burning
Is made of naught but earth and clay;
To earth I too shall be returning,
It falls and, ere I'd think to say,
It breaks in two before my eyes,
In store for me a like fate lies. 
No stain the pipe's hue yet doth darken;
It remains white. Thus do I know
That when to death's call I must hearken
My body, too, all pale wilt grow.
To black beneath the sod 'twill turn,
Likewise, the pipe, if oft it burn.
Or when the pipe is fairly glowing,
Behold then instantaneously,
The smoke off into thin air going,
Till naught but ash is left to see.
Man's frame likewise will burn
And unto dust his body turn. 
How oft it happens when one's smoking:
The stopper's missing from its shelf,
And one goes with one's finger poking
Into the bowl and burns oneself.
If in the pipe such pain doth dwell,
How hot must be the pains of Hell. 
Thus o'er my pipe, in contemplation
Of such things, I can constantly
Indulge in fruitful meditation,
And so, puffing contentedly,
On land, on sea, at home, abroad,
I smoke my pipe and worship God.

~Johann Sebastian Bach
(as quoted in Drinking With Calvin and Luther!: A History of Alcohol in the Church by Jim West)

October 24, 2013

Basic Christianity by John Stott - Book Review

Basic Christianity by John Stott has been an amazing book.

I have heard of John Stott. I have seen other others mention him and quote him from time to time.  I have even seen a few of his books, but until now, I had never had the opportunity to read (or to listen to in this case) anything from this author. I am so glad that I have finally had that opportunity. While listening to this book, with each successive chapter that I completed, he continued to move up my personal ranks of influential authors.

This book is exactly what the title suggests, it is all about Basic Christianity. But what I really loved is that the majority of the topics that this book covers would not have made it into my own book on basic Christianity... But here is the thing: After listening to Stott's explanations and reasons for each of his topics, I began to see how important each of these subjects are. If I had written a book on Basic Christianity, I would have thrown it away in favor of this book.

I mean, sure, we both would have talked about who Jesus is, but the angles that he uses to approach this person of Jesus was literally eye-opening.  I have found myself throughout the day contemplating different points that had been made and making mental notes on what I would need to revisit.

Bottom line... Jesus is an amazing figure who stands supreme in the scope of human history.  I understand that better now after having listened to this book.  I will definitely have to purchase a hard copy of this book.

To get this audio book, please visit Christian Audio whose reviewers program has made it possible for me to listen to so many great books!

...unless someone would like to gift it to me during "Pastor Appreciation Month" ?

October 9, 2013

Lower Goods or Higher Goods

This life which we live here has its own allurements, which, from its own particular mode of beauty and its agreement with all these lower beauties... With regard to all these things, and others of like nature, sins are committed when, out of an immoderate liking for them, since they are the least goods, we desert the best and highest goods, which are you, O Lord our God, and your truth and your law. These lower goods have their delights, but none such as my God, who has made all things, for in him the just man finds delight, and he is the joy of the upright of heart.

~St. Augustine

October 6, 2013

Appreciated...

I knew something was up yesterday... I just couldn't get anyone to spill the beans.

October 5, 2013

Spirit and Truth

"Worshipping in spirit is the opposite of worshipping in merely external ways. It is the opposite of empty formalism and traditionalism. Worshipping in truth is the opposite of worship based on an inadequate view of God. Worship must have hear and head. Worship must engage emotions and thought." 
"Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full (or half-full) of artificial admirers (like people who write generic anniversary cards for a living). On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought. But true worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine. Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow of biblical worship."
~ John Piper, Desiring God

October 4, 2013

Driven to Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell M.D. - Book Review

I just finished reading Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder by Edward M. Hallowell M.D. and John J. Ratey M.D. a couple of days ago. I wanted to write a review of this book, not only because I enjoy writing reviews, but also because I was going to use this as an opportunity to talk about Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.

Growing up in a Christian, Regular-Church-Attending Culture, different psychological challenges like Attention Deficit Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, have tended to all fall into one category: The category of excuses.  For many in this culture, the attempt to label and understand these issues looks like an excuse for bad behavior. They might say that hyperactive kids or distracted kids are just in need of stricter discipline.  According to some, they haven't been properly trained, and when these kids get into high school, they are told that they just need to try harder. Some people on this side of the fence can even go as far as to say that, "...well, everyone has attention deficit disorder! Your challenges are no different than mine, you just need to buckle down like I have."

Besides the fact that an opinion like that is just arrogant... in the words of Dr. Hallowell, "Telling someone who has A.D.D. to try harder is like telling someone who is nearsighted to squint harder.  It misses the biological point."

This book helped drive that point home for me.

Please understand though, I did not read this book simply as a person trying to understand Attention Deficit Disorder in order to help others, students for example, but I read this book as one who has struggled my entire life with A.D.D. Really... I have been diagnosed as an adult by a physician with this condition.  For me, this book was personal.

Previously to reading this book, I have explored this topic from the Biblical Perspective point of view on more than one occasion.  I have heard the arguments and the considered the treatments from the Biblical Counseling (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors) Training that I have received, but I had never really attempted to listen to the other side. Through this book, I have found that the other side has quite a bit to say, and what they are saying is not, "take this magical pill and you will be all better!"

Sure, medication is discussed in this book, but it is definitely not the centerpiece. The core of treatment is through learning strategies and getting a better foundational knowledge of the challenges that go along with this disorder.  There is also a personal aspect that is encouraged.  The treatment includes people and relationships, whether it be "coaches" or "groups" or just the people in your life, there is a human side to the treatment. Near the end of the book he goes into detail on several different structural strategies that have proven to be helpful to those with A.D.D., but even in these strategies, that personal aspect is emphasized.

Most of the book teaches through the use of case studies.  The names have been changed, but the situations are real. This makes it possible for the author to deal with all of the different ways that A.D.D. manifests itself, whether in children just learning to deal with it or in adults that have spent a lifetime trying to cope. It discusses people with the Hyperactivity element (A.D.H.D.) and people (like me) without the hyperactivity element (A.D.D.).

What I found most intriguing in this book was the discussions dealing with all of the secondary issues that so often go hand-in-hand with A.D.D. Issues like depression, anger, abuse and self-medication that are a secondary consequence of the A.D.D.  Many of these secondary issues are a result, not of the A.D.D. itself, but from years of believing that the reason you aren't a better person is because you aren't trying hard enough.  Those of us with A.D.D. have believed that if we could just get an ounce of the will power that others have, we wouldn't be losing our keys or forgetting important dates. If we actually loved the people that we were talking to, we wouldn't be distracted by what is out the window. If we were just better people, we wouldn't take 10 years and 5 schools and 4 majors to graduate with one 4-year degree. Hearing this inner commentary on your life... for your whole life... can drastically alter your perception of yourself.

Whether you are dealing with A.D.D. yourself or with someone you know and love, and if you are looking for a book that does an excellent job in outlining the reality, diagnosis, and treatment of A.D.D. from a current educated, psychological viewpoint, then this is the book for you. If you are looking for a book that balances this perspective with an accurate Biblical understanding of this topic, then you will need to look elsewhere. I have yet to find a book that balances these two realities. I could always give you my perspective, as someone who is attempting to bring these two viewpoints together into a more accurate understanding of what is actually going on in one who has A.D.D., but I haven't written a book yet, and to be honest, I will probably never get around to it anyway. It was challenging enough just to write this book review!