When I began my MDiv, I started reading everything I could get my hands on. I started with theology books and monographs about various biblical topics. At some point, I started to feel like I was reading the same thing over and over, so I broadened the scope of my reading and research. As I have done so, I have been pleased to find that many of the concepts available in social identity studies, collective remembering, decision making science, and a host of other fields have some tremendous applications within the church. The following “reads” are the latest articles and books I’ve found that have the potential to add to the conversations we have as the body of Christ.
- “The Illusory Truth Effect: Why We Believe Fake News, Conspiracy Theories and Propaganda”- Yes. We do have fake news, conspiracy theories, and propaganda in the church. We need to learn to navigate the media environment in which we currently exist with more savvy and more grace. This article discusses the “illusory truth effect,” which appears to involved “processing fluency.” In other words “When a thought is easier to process, it requires our brains to use less energy, which leads us to prefer it.” The article is certainly worth the 15-20 minutes you will need to read it. If you want to explore the concepts further, you can also check out Thinking Christian: Essays on Testimony, Accountability, and the Christian Mind.
- American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus– My kids are a few years away from college, but, as someone who continues to teach at the undergraduate level, I found this book both enlightening and sobering. Wade, the author, describes a dynamic occurring on some college campuses in which “hook ups” have become a norm amongst certain student groups. The new hook up culture has creating an environment in which being a slut, on the one hand, or a prude, on the other, isn’t as bad as being desperate. Emotionless sex isn’t just limited to a casual liaison, but extends to the interactions between students before and after the hook up. The book is challenging and would be of interest to anyone who knows college-age students (or has children headed in that direction).
- Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification– In this book, Kuran deals with preference falsification, or “the act of misrepresenting one’s wants under perceived social pressures.” While Kuran does not see this sort of falsification as being negative in every situation, he does suggest that preference falsification “generates inefficiencies, breeds ignorance and confusion, and conceals social possibilities.” The book offers a well nuanced treatment of the topic and highlight the way in which social pressures can impact the way we think and act.
Each of the readings above have important, practical implications for the way we interact with one another as Christians. As a body, we need to be taking more seriously the information we take in and looking at situations more deeply. These works have given me a lot to consider and I trust that they will challenge your thinking as well (if you chose to read them).