Say It with Me: Cognitive Dissonance

This is the third installment of a series, introducing terms and ideas that may be unfamiliar to most but are increasingly necessary for the thinking Christian to understand.

“But they’re organic!”

Because we don’t have a Trader Joe’s near our house, whenever my wife can make a trip out to the closest one, she stocks up. I grew up on a steady diet of Crisco and high fructose corn syrup. So, when she introduced me to the reasonably-priced organic food store, I had a lot to learn. Joe-Joe’s, organic equivalent to Oreos, made the learning curve much easier.

They are not all that bad—as long as you haven’t had an Oreo in a while for comparison. And, did I mention they’re organic? Nutritious and delicious, right?

After polishing off the first box within a couple of days, my wife warned me to ease up. “But they’re organic!” My naivete must have been pitiful. “Organic doesn’t mean they are any less fattening,” she explained.

I compared the nutritional values of Joe-Joe’s with Oreos. Across the board, Joe-Joe’s had more sugar, more carbs, and more fat. As it turns out, self-control is just as important with organic products as it is with “the fake stuff.” What I thought would be a more waist-friendly option betrayed me.

I was crushed—crushed by cognitive dissonance.

Read more…
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Teaching Big Ideas to Young Minds: Why?

Just the other day, I walked in on my students doing something amazing—they were discussing calculus. They were slinging terms left and right, talking quadratics and derivatives, differentiated and otherwise. I mean, I guess it was calculus. As if this dyslexic history major could tell either way.

It is the joy of teaching in a classroom following a calculus class. I take one look at the hieroglyphics that the previous teacher left on the board—I assume out of pride—and I just laugh. The students laugh at me laughing. It’s fun.

Then it’s my turn. I get to teach them Christology, soteriology, and anthropology. I teach ontology, epistemology, and cosmology. Sure, it may be Bible class and apologetics class, but far be it from me to ease up just because the topic turns spiritual. After all, they were just learning calculus!

My first year of teaching theology to high school freshmen, I remember looking over my syllabus with a fellow teacher. Scanning all the “-ologies”, he asked doubtfully, “Do you really think that freshman can handle this? Don’t you think this is over their heads?”

With an unbearably Will-Rogers-like smirk, I replied, “Maybe, but that just means they need to sit up taller.”

Why is it that we teach such big ideas and expect such deep thinking from our young people when it comes to so-called “secular” subjects, yet when it comes to the things of God, we are content to have them read a few verses and discuss a few practical applications?

We need to teach young people the big ideas about God our creator, the universe he created, and the image in which he created us—using the mind he created in us to use. That is to say, we need to teach young people theology.

Here are three reasons why. Continue reading “Teaching Big Ideas to Young Minds: Why?”

Say It with Me: Plausibility Structures

This is the second installment of a series, introducing terms and ideas that may be unfamiliar to most but are increasingly necessary for the thinking Christian to understand.

The term will probably not work its way into your casual conversation any time soon. However, it may play a part next time someone talks to you about your faith. It should play a part next time you talk to someone about yours.

Continue reading “Say It with Me: Plausibility Structures”

The Questions They’re Asking and the Answers They’re Getting

…and What We Should Do about It

Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

I have never been much of Star Wars fan (please don’t unsubscribe), so when my student hit me this quote in the middle of a conversation about morality, my reaction was little more than an eye-roll. Fortunately, I was able to convince him that Obi-Wan Kenobi may have been strong with the force, but he was weak with philosophy, especially considering that his statement was absolute.

Consequently, it was one of the best conversations I have ever had with a student about the nature of morality.

It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.

Now, Batman? I can appreciate Batman. So, when a student threw that one at me, I was a bit more receptive. As it turns out, much of the stress this student felt due to his underperformance in school was prompted more by fiction than fact.

As a result, it was one of the best conversations I have ever had with a student about identity and accountability.

In both situations, fictional characters had given these young people more answers to life’s big questions than any of the adults in their lives had. I was not surprised. If you are, you should know, this is typical.

Here’s the thing…

Our young people’s lives are more often than we would like to admit guided by the culture that surrounds them more than the adults that raise them.

So, what can we do about it?

We first need to recognize two facts: young people are asking questions, and they are getting answers. The question is, from whom are they getting those answers?

We then need to develop a strategy to answer their questions properly, meaningfully, and—most importantly—Biblically.    Continue reading “The Questions They’re Asking and the Answers They’re Getting”

6 Things I Hope My Graduating Students Know

christian apologetics theology culture graduation

As a high school teacher, I have seen ten classes of seniors graduate. It is a great joy in my life to see them grow and move on to bigger and better things. I have kept in touch with many and have become close friends with several. I thank God for the memories I have collected over the years.

Every year, around graduation time, I become reflective. I know what I have taught them, but what have they learned? I know what they were given, but what are they taking away? I see how they have grown, but are they where they need to be?

After all I have said to them, have I said everything that needs to be said?

My answers to those questions are more satisfactory some years than others. However, there are things that I hope every student takes away every year. In all the things they have learned, I hope they know these. Continue reading “6 Things I Hope My Graduating Students Know”