By Dr. Lisa Dunne
Have you ever felt like you were quite literally swimming in data, drowning in an ever-rising tide of information?
If so, you’re not alone.
This deluge, this flood of persuasive communication, has escalated dramatically over just the last 30 years. From just 1986 to 2011, our information intake increased by five times!
There is now a massive information flow categorized by researchers: 21,274 television stations, 6,000 hours of YouTube uploads, 3,000 add, gaming, books, magazines, social media—wow! It’s a dizzying amount of content right at our fingertips, and the human brain can actually process 74 GB a day!
What’s the danger of that?
Information scientists say that every status update you read, every tweet or text you get from a friend—these are all competing for resources in your brain. Where will we devote our energy and focus?
Proverbs 9 demonstrates that both wisdom and folly are calling out to us continually, and we have a choice which fountain we will drink from. “The woman Folly is loud,” Proverbs 9:13 reminds us. “She is seductive.” Rising above the din will require us to “filter” the deluge, to reject the seductive voice of foolishness and trivia, the flood of useless and time-consuming data that is constantly bombarding our senses.
Exactly how do we do that?
There are two ways to respond to this information overload: we can learn to filter it or be overwhelmed by it. Proverbs 9:6 says that Wisdom calls aloud, “Leave your simple ways and walk in the way of insight, of understanding.” But Folly also offers a siren call. She says, “Let him who is simple come to me."
We can measure our intake of wisdom and our ability to filter through the litmus test of preparedness and assess the harvest. The fruit of wisdom, Solomon says, is being willing we receive commandments and to walk in integrity, in wholeness. Folly produces (and lures in) the simple. Foolishness begets more foolishness. It's a cycle.
How do we avoid this folly and instead attain its opposite? Proverbs answers that too: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” That’s the starting point.
Add that to the seed-sowing step of instruction which is gained by a key practice: study.
Now, if you had a visceral PTSD trigger response when you read the word study, let’s look at this amazing word for a second. When you hear the word study in a biblical context, you probably think of 2 Timothy 2, “Study to show yourself approved, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
This phrase, rightly divide, means to cut, to hold on a straight course, to handle correctly and directly. Isaiah and Ecclesiastes further explain these ideas of learning line upon line, precept upon precept, thinking in an organized way about the context of the word. This is the heart of the process of studying, which any good student knows well.
One of my favorite authors, Neil Postman, used to say that the reader comes to the sentence “armed,” that is, we bring our own arsenal of experience to the written word. We need to reflect on it, research it, record it, mediate on it. The word is like a spiritual backlink, connecting you from one truth to another and building up the connections so that you have truth to draw from in any situation.
When trivial news comes across your eye or ear, you’ll know whether to keep or discard it, to embrace or reject it. The more we have the word of God written in our hearts, the easier it is to filter through the dangerous nonsense of the day and call on wisdom for answers in how to think and respond. We have a veritable well (or web) of resources at our fingertips.
This is one of our main focal points at CVCU. As a marketplace-focused university degree program, our goal is to help students develop a way of thinking through the lens of biblical truths in order to answer the challenges and even crises of their career fields. We need a well of resource to “arm” us to come intelligently into the conversation.
To filter out folly and hold fast to wisdom, we need to develop this muscle, this mindset of study, and we need to write the truth of God’s word on our hearts. If you’re not yet in a community of believing scholars who are challenging and sharpening you, why not join us for our academy classes, scholars forums, or college degree programs?
CVCU is shifting the culture of education for the next generation. Learn more at www.cvcu.us.