Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Is reading this blog making you stupid?

That's the question Leonard Pitts, Jr. asks in his most recent column at Jewish World Review. Actually, he doesn't blame this blog in particular. His point is that the vastness of information available is causing us to be less careful readers. We are being forced to trade depths of information (the old days) for quantity of information (not infinite, but pretty close to it).

This is an important issue for a pastor. If you read sermons from several hundred years ago, you find densely worded paragraphs and logical arguments that follow many twists and turns. Today's audience has difficulty following an oral presentation that has three or four main points. People are used to information being transmitted in a few short sound bytes or headlines on a blog.

How should a pastor respond? My own belief is that the pastor should stretch his audience, but do so in a way that ensures that they can succeed. I personally find PowerPoint distracting, but I think most audiences today are used to some media being utilized to communicate information. I've opted recently to use PowerPoint to communicate main points and sub-points during messages to help people follow the flow of an argument. But at the same time, I never (or at least very rarely) use media for "cutesy" things like movie clips or clever clip art. But maybe I should.

(Rambling ahead) This is just one of the many ways I think our paradigms for communication and thought patterns are changing. In meetings, we're all wired, meaning we're in the room with one another but part of us is on the web. Or think about our spatial orientation. Instead of the 4:3 fullscreen orientation on TV screens and computer screens that we have been used to for decades, suddenly everything is a 16:9 ratio. I wonder when this widescreen orientation will transfer to things like books. Are younger kids, who are growing up in a 16:9 widescreen world going to instictively turn 81/2 x 11 paper sideways because they are used to seeing information communicatted in widescreen?

And, as Leonard Pitts, Jr. might ask, are you more stupid for having read this blog? Am I an enabler? Should you have invested this time reading a book instead?


Bruce said...

And so, how would we be able to know you better, not only as a believer, a pastor, but also as one who is learning as we learn. Aside from sitting beside you, and other pastors, how can we know your thoughts as they ramble through your head and how your heart is as it takes hold of your emotions, for yourself and for us.

PowerPoint - mostly overused and overstated. But, some of us, as you "stretch" us as you teach us, need that visual crutch to keep up on points that cause us to think and absorb as you continue on with the message of the day. I enjoy the challenge of the notes during a sermon so that I have a reference tomorrow of what was shared today. You teach and we will learn. You exort and we will listen. You challenge and we will respond.

I liked your use of the term "paradigm". It isn't a shift. It is a way of thinking and focusing upon something from a different direction and view. The "space" of a room, and a person, looks different if we can look from above, or within, rather than by just being there. (Waxing philosophic..don't go there...don't go there!)

Are blogs a waste? Only if they are self-serving and worldly. Teach us, pastor, and we will learn. Share with us and we will better know how to respond.

In Christ, Bruce

Anonymous said...

More stupid or stupider? now that's a valid question.

Makes you wonder about the kids and turning the paper landscape, never thought about that one before.

You bring up a good point or points rather. :)


John and Sarah said...

If you were me, would you read your blog or the Jimmy Carter book I picked up at the library last week?

Grammy said...

Dear Grandson,
I don't think reading a blog can make one stupid. If I did, I wouldn't be reading any of them,and I read quite a few of them, but enjoy none of them more than yours and Whit's. Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

maybe you should write a book :0

Anonymous said...

Is reading this blog making me stupid? No.

Is logging in each day and finding that this blog hasn't been updated making me frustrated? Yes.

Your opinions and discussions are, dare I say it, insightful and entertaining.