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Do you find the content on this blog helpful? Would you like to see an even more steady stream of original content, including monthly book reviews, bimonthly self-help videos, weekly answers to readers’ questions and a thought-of-the-day each morning? These are just some of the agenda-items I would like to pursue if this blog could become self-funding.

Which brings me to some exciting news! This blog is now equipped with a plugin that enables you to donate directly to this work. If you are excited about playing an active role in supporting this site’s content, now is your chance!

Here’s how it works. First, locate the “donate” button on the left that looks like this:

Once you click on this button, it will take you to a screen that looks like the following, where you can select a monthly amount you are comfortable contributing.

This blog averages between one and two thousand page views a day from around 500 visitors. If each visitor in one day donated $5.00 a month, this would be sufficient to achieve the goals mentioned above. Every bit helps!

 

Cultivate Your Intuition With Times of Quiet

Earlier this month, Carolyn Gregoire wrote a powerful article on intuition for the Huffington Post. Her article, ‘10 Things Highly Intuitive People Do Differently‘, showed that being able to have an accurate intuition is a skill we develop with practice, by engaging in right practices such as taking time to be creative, to be quiet, to mindfulness let go of negative emotions, and so forth. It reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink where he showed that there is a complex context of antecedents that precede a person’s ability to make accurate split second reactions based on intuition. One of the things I most appreciated about Gregoire’s piece was her emphasis that constant busyness and connection to digital connectivity can starve the ability to be intuitive. That is something I’ve found, as it is the times when I turn off all my devices to just be quiet that I achieve my best insights and connect best with the intuition God has given me. From Gregoire’s piece:

“Few things stifle intuition as easily as constant busyness, multitasking, connectivity to digital devices and stress and burnout. According to Huffington, we always have an intuitive sense about the people in our lives — on a deep level, we know the good ones from the ‘flatterers and dissemblers’ — but we’re not always awake enough to our intuition to acknowledge the difference to ourselves. The problem is that we’re simply too busy.”

Further Reading

What is Emotional Intelligence?

What is “emotional intelligence’ and why is it important? That was a question I addressed in ‘Best Kept Secrets About Brain Fitness: a Conversation with Graham Taylor and Robin Phillips (Part 1).’ Here is the explanation I offered about what emotional intelligence is and why we should all work to cultivate it:

In his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, psychologist Howard Gardner expanded the notion of intelligence to include multiple different modalities. One of the most important of these is the category that many psychologists call emotional intelligence but which Gardner termed “Interpersonal Intelligence.”

Emotional intelligence involves the ability to recognize our feelings as they occur and thus to increase the gap between stimulus and response. But emotional intelligence isn’t just about recognizing and managing our own emotions, because clinical studies have established that the same mental muscles involved in attentive perception of our own moods and feelings also form the basis of emotional-intelligence-golemanattentive perception of others people’s emotions and needs. So emotional intelligence is both self-directed and others-directed. And it’s so important practically. As I pointed out in my essays on attentiveness, a high level of emotional intelligence is absolutely necessary in order to have successful relationships, to self-regulate our emotions, and effectively to navigate the challenges of life. In fact, many researchers now believe that emotional intelligence is even more important than IQ. This was the thesis of Daniel Goleman’s ground-breaking 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Goleman didn’t discover the concept of emotional intelligence, but he’s the one who popularized the concept and made it a household term. Thanks to the work of Goleman and others, it is now widely accepted that emotional intelligence plays a far greater role than we ever realized in all the things that matter most in life. In his book Search Inside Yourself, former Google-engineer-turned-mindfulness-guru, Chade-Meng Tan, showed that emotional intelligence even plays a central role in jobs that we might expect to only require good brain-processing power, such as the work of programmers, engineers and technicians.

Research is increasingly showing that emotional intelligence involves neurological skills that can be developed with practice, and so it is absolutely crucial that this skill be at the center of any discussion about brain fitness.

Two Ways to Improve the Quality of Life

“There are two main strategies we can adopt to improve the quality of life. The first is to try making external conditions match our goals. The second is to change how we experience conditions to make them fit our goals better.”

— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

The Yawning Chasm

From John Ferling’s book Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation, p. 207:

“During one dinner, Hamilton gazed at Jefferson’s portraits of John Locke, Sir Isaac Newton, and Sir Francis Bacon. He asked the identity of the subjects, to which Jefferson replied that they were ‘the three greatest men the world had ever produced.’ Hamilton responded: ‘The greatest man that ever lived was Julius Caesar.’ If he did not already know it, Jefferson discovered in that instant the yawning chasm in sensibilities that separated Hamilton and himself.”

Habits of Successful Students

Last week I published an article for the Taylor Study Method titled ‘10 Steps to Learning Anything Twice as Quick‘. Here are some snippets from the article.

Passive vs. Active Learning

“Passive learning is when you simply read and re-read material, or listen to it on audio over and over again. People engage in this type of passive learning on the assumption that repeated exposure to material will result in learning that material. By contrast, active learning is when you create flashcards, summary sheets, take practice tests, set yourself challenges, and constantly dig deeper into elements you are having trouble understanding. Active learning may require more initial effort, but in the long run it could save you hundreds of hours.”

Don’t Trust in Google

“When it comes to learning, it’s easy to think that everything we need can be found on Google. However, to truly master a field of knowledge and sediment it in your long-term memory, you need to do more than simply memorize isolated facts. Rather, you need a foundation of knowledge that can become a basis for conceptual thinking, contextual reasoning, and the ability to for schemas out of that knowledge. All of this requires a deep familiarity with your subject that cannot be achieved by simply Googling what you need to know.”

Take Baby Steps

“Baby steps are especially important when a person is trying to learn material or master a field of study. Through cramming and massed practice, anyone can learn something quickly. However, to truly master a field, one needs to study it consistently over time—little and often. Baby steps lend themselves to this type of necessary consistency. Baby steps also help to shift the focus to small wins that can accumulate over time to help you reach larger goals.”

Self-Monitor Towards SMART Goals

“Self-monitoring is especially important in the learning process. Whatever you are trying to learn, whether it’s a foreign language or the material you need to know for the psychology licensure exam, you should break your goals into manageable steps and have a clear way of monitoring your progress in each of these steps. Self-monitoring enables a person to continually adjust their goals so that they can be SMART. A goal that is SMART is one that is specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound.”

To read the entire article, click on the link below:

 ‘10 Steps to Learning Anything Twice as Quick

Looking Unto Jesus

In response to the article I wrote for Touchstone Magazine earlier this year, “The Cross of Least Resistance: Our Path to Holiness Runs Straight Through Calvary“, I have had readers write to me saying that struggle is NOT a good thing in the Christian life. You see, in that article I criticized the pervasive notion that when the Holy Spirit moves in someone’s heart they are always enabled to achieve complete victory over sin, where “victory” is taken to mean the absence of protracted struggle, frustration, confusion and occasional setbacks. According to the line of thinking I was attacking, the presence of difficulty is a sign that God’s life-giving power is not operative within us.

Continue reading

Zwingli and the Visible vs. Invisible Dualism

It is interesting that for Zwingli, “spiritual” worship was synonymous with non-physical worship, while “purity” was equivalent with simplicity. Worship in Zwingli’s Zurich not only involved a ban on images, but also music, decoration and liturgical fragrance. In fact, during Zwingli’s first four years in the city, few themes featured as prominently as that of “invented external worship.” There was more at stake here than merely Zwingli’s concern to uphold the integrity of the Second Commandment: the root of his antipathy to material paraphernalia and external ceremony was that such practices were visible. For Zwingli the visible was the province of unbelief, while the invisible was the realm of faith. God, who is unseen, cannot be approached through the visible material of the created world, and it is a sign of spiritual immaturity for worshipers to be dependent on created things. Jealous to preserve God’s glory, Zwingli had sought to organize the relations between the spiritual and the material in a way that ensured the heavenly would never be mediated through the earthly. The more God could be seen to work independent of instrumentality, the greater God’s sovereignty was thought to be. Thus, in order for God to be fully magnified in all His transcendence, the spiritual potency of creation had to be either denied or heavily qualified; for God to have all the glory, creation must have none; to trust in God involved an inverse distrust in the elements of creation. His deep distrust of instrumental causality led Zwingli to seek to make the sacraments declarative rather than instrumental. He was, in the words of Gerrish, “reluctant to acknowledge any other causality than that of God, the first cause. Hence, the very notion of sacramental causality was offensive to him. It seems to detract from the immediacy of the divine activity if one assigns even an instrumental function to the creaturely elements of water, bread, and wine. Signs, for Zwingli, are not instrumental, but indicative or declarative.” Even Zwingli’s doctrine of predestination arose from this same impulse and was the inevitable correlate to saying that God was the only active cause operative among creatures. Significantly, when Zwingli had his iconic clash with Luther at Marburg, it was the former’s affirmation of the incompatibility of spirit and matter that led him to so forcefully oppose the doctrine of real presence.

Beauty and the Sacramental Vision

From my article ‘More than Schooling: The Perils of Pragmatism in Christian Attitudes Toward the Liberal Arts‘:

“Being able to just be in the presence of beauty is central to coming to know God and to participate in the sacramental life. As students come to appreciate beauty for its own sake—independent of utilitarian goals—their souls are prepared to receive God at a deep, pre-cognitive level.”