Sound Christian advice

I know I’m about a week late on this New Year’s resolution thing, but I’m working my way through my unread Google Reader subscriptions and I wanted to highlight this great advice from Matt Appling at The Church of No People.

If you want my opinion (and why wouldn’t you?), you should only make one resolution.  This one resolution can apply to everyone, everywhere.  It does not require any physical exercise.  You don’t need to buy any equipment.  It will literally solve just about any of your problems.

My one resolution is this:


Can we please just think.  Think before you eat.  Think before you speak.  Think before you blog.  Think before you turn on the TV, tell a joke, make a criticism, say a prayer, curse under your breath, spend more money.

Yes. Please. When Matt says that thinking “will literally solve just about any of your problems,” he’s right. If you won’t listen to an atheist on this, listen to a Christian. Think about your choices. Think about your beliefs. Think about how you are living your life.

Think before you say a prayer.

Think before you spend more money.

I would add: think about what you read. Look at the evidence. In the words of LeVar Burton, you don’t have to take my word for it.

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  1. This was a post from Matt that I really enjoyed. Thanks for reminding me about it!

  2. Ironically, to really “think”, you have to learn to “not think”. Our minds spit up thoughts reflexively, we follow the thoughts reflexively, we act on this spastic thought life reflexively. We have to learn to say “no” to thoughts, to slow down the process, see behind it and try to develop a non-reflexive side of ourselves. We have to turn down thoughts, don’t take what our mind offers without pausing and seeing if other options are better.

    This is probably just what you are saying too. But I thought the irony would be fun.

    Personally, without meditating, it is hard for me to learn the skills to stop the reflexivity or to slow it down. And the more educated and clever we are, the more twisted the self-deception. Saying “No” and slowing down the blender in our brains is hard. To just “want” to do it is not enough, it takes some training. How do you train your mind to pause before reflexing into blind habits?

  3. Ha – yes, I think “reflexively” is the key word. Being “reflexive” is what we should watch out for … although sometimes it’s additional thoughts that are reflexive rather than actions. Very cute. 🙂

    Obviously it gets pretty meta, trying to think about how you think, trying to use your brain to monitor your thought processes, make judgments about them, judge the judgments, etc. It’s hard to describe the “how” of it without getting even more bizarre and abstracted. If I had to say something, I’d compare it to the advice given to dieters to chew your food more times before swallowing, wait in between bites, and so on, in order to give your body time to feel full. Does that make sense?

  4. Ubi Dubium

     /  January 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I spend quite a bit of time thinking about thought processes. It’s a little meta, but it makes the bizarre ways in which people behave make so much more sense! I recommend the website It has really readable essays on different cognitive biases, and lots of examples of ways that we come to wrong conclusions based on flawed thinking. Good stuff.

  5. I think there are some Buddhist meditation techniques that can help get behind this meta stuff.

  6. Ubi Dubium

     /  January 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I don’t think I’ve every seen any Buddhist meditation techniques that would help someone understand concepts like confirmation bias or pareidolia.

    I tend to like the metaphor of the brain as a computer. Meditation can be like rebooting the system. It can be helpful to clear up many problems, but a computer virus will still cause system errors no matter how many times you reboot.

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