What is on your plate of content today?
You’ve probably checked your email, browsed Instagram, and visited Facebook; you’re kindly here reading my blog (thank you, by the way) and maybe you’ve already checked the news or read a few pages from a book sitting on your nightstand, perhaps even your Bible.
All these avenues are different ways we find and collect information. Some of it is helpful. Some of it isn’t, and the consequences are beginning to mount as we fall into habits that lead us away from thoughtful absorption, to disorganized scanning.
Brett McCracken’s new book called “The Wisdom Pyramid:Feeding Your Soul In A Post-Truth World” is based on the model of the Food Pyramid (that the schools used to teach us the food groups and the portions we should be eating for a healthy diet). He argues that just like with our food we can eat too much, too fast, or only what tastes good to us, developing habits that impact our health. We’ve incorporated these same habits into our consumption of information, whether it’s news, social media, or from people around us.
We take in too much, and we’re unable to sort it all out.
It comes at us too fast and we can’t digest it thoughtfully or discerningly.
We take in only what we like, our tastes become singularly inclined to our own sugared, personal preferences, making us unable to digest any diverse or challenging opinions.
These habits impact our mental health, our spiritual health and our emotional health.
So it’s time to take a good look at our information diet.
“We need a diet comprised of lasting, reliable sources of wisdom rather than the fleeting, untrustworthy information that bombards us today; a diet heavy on what fosters wisdom and low on what fosters folly”
The book is divided into two parts. The first looks at the sources of our sickness, observing the symptoms we experience in stress and anxiety from too many choices, and weak abilities to sort through the overabundance of words from places like Instagram and Facebook. The second part seeks to teach us what a healthy diet of information looks like, with the model he uses called the Wisdom Pyramid.
The Wisdom Pyramid is founded first upon the Word of God, the true source of all wisdom as it is God’s revelation of himself for us. This may seem obvious, but ask yourself where you spend the most time, checking your smartphone, or in the Word? (and the stats say that we check our phones upwards of 200 times per day).
The next level on the pyramid is the church. Our culture places primary importance on our personal relationship with Jesus, rather than our communal relationship. What we can fail to see is that, “the church brings fullness and focus to our understanding and application of God’s truth, in ways that go deeper than what a ‘just me and Jesus’ approach can provide.” We need community to help us find our blind spots, areas for growth, and opportunity to serve others.
He continues on the pyramid to show us how nature, books and beauty point to our Creator God, and provide us with opportunities to learn and process information in healthy, tangible ways. “Wisdom is not just knowing the right things. It’s also (and largely) about having the right posture; having our loves rightly ordered.”
Lastly, he looks at the internet and social media. Let’s face it, we likely can’t get away from it. There are many benefits to our connected world, but there are also downsides. As we learn to prioritize what we read and see, the benefits will become clearer, and less of a burden. He provides helpful, practical tips for engaging online to celebrate the good, rather than adding to the noise.
“Go online with your full-body hazmat suit on. Take a flashlight. Stay alert to dangers, always mindful of the highly contagious nature of the sicknesses online. But don’t abandon the sick. Don’t leave these spaces to rot. Instead, find ways to heal, to redeem, to be light in the darkness.”
In an age where hot takes and breaking news vie constantly for our for attention, we need to learn how to take a step back from the urgency they present, and practice taking in information of first importance found in Scripture, then applying it to the rest of life. It’s not easy to do, as we can easily get caught up in killing time in the grocery line or while supper is on the stove, browsing endlessly. This book is an invitation to check in with ourselves, our stress and anxiety, and become curious about what our eyes are taking in, how much and what content, is pouring into us.
“Without God as an ultimate standards of truth, all we have are “truths” as interpreted by individuals. To each their own. You do you. It’s no wonder we are now as confused as we are. Do away with God, and you do away with truth.”
This book is for the Christian who is starting to feel crushed under the weight of content overload and looking to reorganize their information diet by putting the venues of intake in the right order.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of the Crossway Blog Review program. So my thanks to the publisher for the book and the opportunity to post an honest review.