Monday, February 8, 2010


I've suddenly realized that I haven't posted to my blog in over two months. Yikes!! What I've come to realize is I'm not very good at multitasking. As I sit in my office studying I find I do best when I am least distracted. When I'm able to focus on a text and think about it deeply I find I'm most productive. But there are endless distractions. Emails continually come in during the day. the telephone rings, people ring the door bell. There are countless office administrative duties that demand my attention. With so many things demanding my attention it seems that I'm always leaving something undone. I guess I'm just not a great multitasker. The truth is, however, neither is anyone else.

In a recent airing of Frontline on LPB they ran a special on the effect of the digital age on the human mind. The lives of many people today are cluttered with endless activity -- reading email, texting, Facebook and countless searches on the Internet. The special examined research conducted by Stanford University in California. They ran a series of studies to test how well students did at multitasking. It turns out none fared well. The human brain is not wired to think about several things at once. Rather, we do best when we are able to think deeply on a single subject at a time. Their conclusion is that the digital age of multitasking may be creating people who are unable to think well and clearly.

A recent book by T. David Gordon titled Why Johnny Can't Preach examines the terrible decline in good expository preaching. His conclusion is that most preachers no longer know how to think deeply. The primary reason is because of our culture of sensory overload where our minds are filled with endless images that do not demand mental concentration. "What kinds of ministers does such a culture produce? Ministers who are not at home with what is significant; ministers whose attention span is less than that of a four-year-old in the 1940's, who race around like the rest of us, constantly distracted by sounds and images of inconsequential trivialities, and out of touch with what is weighty. It is not surprising that their sermons, and the alleged worship that surrounds them, are often trifling, thoughtless, uninspiring, and mundane" (pages 58-59).

It would be good for all of us to set aside some of the distractions. Instead of the Internet how much better would it be for our minds if we read a good book? The world will not come to an end if we don't post to Facebook for a day. With every advancement in technology great caution must be practiced.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said sir. I have recently started teachig my oldest to play chess. My hope is that it will help him to develop the thinking skills that our country, to a large degree, lacks. So far my greatest effots focus on teaching him to lose without crying. Cheers!