Life in the past lane

lucy

AS someone once said: Nostalgia is not what it used to be. In fact, it never  was.

That  insidious emotion, nostalgia, seems to be as much a part of the modern world as new technology.

The more rapidly we are propelled into an uncertain future, the more we seem to yearn for life in the past lane; for the imagined safe world of yesterday.

We want to believe that yesterday was simpler and more secure — even though we should know that life has always been on a razor’s edge.
Charles Leadbeater, in his book Up the Down Escalator, wrote of booming housing estates in the United States where everything is freshly minted to look old.

“From films to music, cars to architecture, we are using new technology to return us to the past, to deliver better versions of old experiences,” he wrote.

Leadbeater said the globalisation and immersion in computerised and virtual worlds had made us nostalgic for a time when we imagined we lived in real communities, with a sense of shared social and moral commitment.

He said we could mix and match from the al a carte menu of memories. But in the end, we were deceiving and paralysing ourselves.

Nostalgia was first recognised — as an affliction or mania — in the 17th century. Swiss doctor Johannes Hofer documented cases of war-weary soldiers who hallucinated about the homelands they had left behind.

Centuries later, wallowing in the past is no longer generally viewed as an affliction. Instead, it is a somewhat romantic notion.

Nostalgia in reality is a cheap emotion, or as Leadbeater puts it, “a lazy wallow in a warm bath of false history”.

In another century, Samuel Johnson wrote: “Every old man complains of the growing depravity of the world, of the petulance and insolence of the rising generation. He recounts the decency and regularity of former times, and celebrates the discipline and sobriety of the age in which his youth was passed; a happy age which is now no more to be expected, since confusion has broken in upon the world, and thrown down all the boundaries of civility and reverence.”

We do not do much better with our visions of the future.

Wonder and worry about life seem to mix loosely in all of us. We clearly need more wonder and less worry.

As Christian author C.S. Lewis puts it, we are called to attend to “eternity itself, and to that point of time which we call the present”.

German theologian Deitrich Bonheoffer, who railed against the Nazis and was executed, complained about the “sentimentality” of religions.

He said churches often dealt too much with past and future visions and not enough with today’s realities.

“Christianity meets humans at the centre of their lives, both in their joys and sufferings,” he said.

“God must be recognised at the centre of life, not when we are at the end of our resources; it is his will to be recognised in life, and not only when death comes; in health and vigour, and not only in suffering; in all our activities, and not only in sin.”

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56 thoughts on “Life in the past lane

  1. Jesus is not only the centre of life but the centre of history .The impact of Jesus on society, the arts, education, science, economics, and others was both profound yet highly practical with much of civilisation germinating from Him. It looks into what was learned from the Dead Sea Scrolls, archeology, textual criticism, historical sources, Rabbis and other scholars discuss the world in which Jesus was born and the early years of the new faith. We owe much to our Jewish history too, of which Jesus was part.

    As Christians we really do not feel nostalgia but feel and breathe the timeline of Jesus from past, to present and future. We have the indwelling of the Spirit that is much like a thread. We have this priceless treasure of His Word and the hope in His future as heirs to a kingdom.

    Amen!

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  2. “we have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.”

    (Merle D’Aubigne HISTORY OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION)

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  3. Just looking at my extended family, each generation does not embrace the technology of the next generation.

    My grand parents on both sides never got a drivers licence. My parents never bothered much about computers. Now my brothers are not really fussed much about social media. Maybe it is an attempt to cling to the way things were done in the past.

    Also I have noticed the fitness of each generation declines. My grandfather in his 60s was walking 5 km up 300 to 400 metres just to get to where he works. He would do a full days work then he would walk home. My father was concreting until he was 60. I took my son for a bike ride on the weekend and I had to wait for him at the top of the hills.

    I talked to the taekwondo instructor down the road and he told me he noticed each generation are less fit, less mannered and have a shorter attention span.

    Technology makes our lives easier but it has a price for the unwary.

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    • I work in education/IT and it certainly seens that way. But even technology such as washing machines, dish washers, modern ovens and cars all create nore time for us but we fill that time with more work. Yes, physically we are more obese as a nation yet there is more structured sport.

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    • Your taekwondo instructor down the road also moonlights as a sociologist ?

      If each generation is less fit than the last how is new sporting records get set ?

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      • An analysis of million kids by the American heart association confirms the TKD instructors observations. 🙂

        Today’s kids can’t keep up with their parents. An analysis of studies on millions of children around the world finds they don’t run as fast or as far as their parents did when they were young.

        On average, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their counterparts did 30 years ago. Heart-related fitness has declined 5 per cent per decade since 1975 for children ages 9 to 17.

        http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/kids-less-fit-than-parents-worldwide-1.2432307

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      • If each generation is less fit than the last how is new sporting records get set ?

        Easy. Each generation means mainstream people not professional athletes. Generally people do not get up in the morning with the aim of breaking some sporting record unless… they are professional athletes who are paid to do so, and whose aim in life is to do so.

        I can’t believe that you would play silly buggers and pretend you don’t understand this.

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      • Hey Dom,

        The linked study says that some young people don’t get enough exercise and had 1 very limited test of fitness to back that up.

        With some variation across different nations.

        Was that really what your taekwondo instructor observed?

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      • Hey Dom,

        You’re the one advancing a proposition. The very original proposition that previous generations were better in some aspect than the current one.

        And now that I think about it you don’t have a study to support that proposition you have a journalistic article. Considering your efforts in our discussion on the most recent London riots I’ll treat the article with suspicion until you provide the study.

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      • The evidence of several 20,000-year-old fossilised footprints found in western NSW in 2003 shows that Aboriginal runners, even back then, were tearing up the countryside with world-class sprint performances. Archaeologist Steven Webb, working with local Aboriginal elders, calculated that the footprints of one man found there prove that the hunter was running at 37km/h – as fast, or faster (given the conditions) than the current world record holder, Usain Bolt.

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      • In November 2012, Stanford University School of Medicine researcher Gerald Crabtree published two papers in the journal Trends in Genetics suggesting that humanity’s intelligence peaked between 2,000 and 6,000 years ago.

        Crabtree based this assertion on genetics. About 2,000 to 5,000 genes control human intelligence, he estimated. At the rate at which genetic mutations accumulate, Crabtree calculated that within the last 3,000 years, all of humanity has sustained at least two mutations harmful to these intellect-determining genes (and will sustain a couple more in another 3,000 years). Not every mutation will cause harm — genes come in pairs, and some weaknesses caused by mutation can be covered for by the healthy half of the pair, Crabtree wrote; but the calculation suggests that intelligence is more fragile than it seems.

        Furthermore, he argued, intelligence isn’t as evolutionarily important to humans today as it was when the species was hunter-gatherers. Thousands of years ago, failing to grasp the aerodynamics of throwing a spear when a lion was coming at you meant you were toast — no more passing along your genes to offspring. Modern man rarely faces such life-or-death tests of wits, Crabtree wrote. [

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      • In his book Manthropology: The Science of Inadequate Modern Man, Peter McAllister says that a Neanderthal woman would beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in an arm wrestle.

        In a javelin contest, the aboriginal would claim the gold medal. The world record is 98.4m, but they could throw a spear a staggering 110m.

        He said: ‘As a class, we are in fact the sorriest cohort of masculine Homo Sapiens to ever walk the planet.’

        His conclusion about aboriginals’ astonishing speed comes from analysis of 20,000-year-old footprints preserved in a fossilised claypan lake bed in Australia.

        The prints are of six men chasing prey and Mr McAllister’s study of them leads him to believe they could hit 23mph on muddy ground.

        Usain Bolt reached 26mph at last year’s Beijing Olympics, but Mr McAllister claims that with modern training and spiked running shoes, an aboriginal man would be capable of 28mph.

        Meanwhile, Neanderthal women would win a battle of strength with Arnie because they had 10 per cent more muscle than modern European man.

        With some weight work in the gym, a Neanderthal woman would reach 90 per cent of Schwarzenegger’s bulk at his peak in the 1970s.

        However, because a Neanderthal woman had a much shorter lower arm, Mr McAllister believes she would ‘slam him to the table without a problem’.

        The anthropologist blames modern lifestyles for our decline in speed and power.

        He says in his book: ‘At the start of the industrial revolution there are statistics about how much harder people worked then. The human body is very plastic, and it responds to stress. ‘We have lost 40 per cent of the shafts of our long bones, because we have much less of a muscular load placed upon them these days.’

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      • Hey Bryan,

        I think “I don’t know” is the answer you were after.

        Oh I don’t think I’ve at all claimed that no such studies exist. That’s the problem with you fantasy land types not good at real world detail.

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    • seriously Bubba?
      Dom makes an observation, makes a comment. You are the one that mentions studies. Dom asks for studies and then you say no!
      And who says everything on here requires studies when making an observation?

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      • Hey alexie,

        That’s an amazing precis of the conversation to date.

        I really don’t know how you managed to do it.

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      • Hey Alexie,

        Dom said that a “taekwondo instructor down the road and he told me he noticed each generation are less fit, less mannered and have a shorter attention span.”

        I asked if the taekwondo instructor also moonlights as a sociologist.

        Dom replied with a CNN article that said young folk don’t get enough exercise and that based on one measure of fitness they were worse than previous generations.

        I then questioned if that was really the observation his taekwondo instructor made.

        Dom then asked if I had any studies on the topic.

        I pointed out to Dom that he was the one advancing the proposition not me. And point out that in the past he has cited journalistic articles that were not reliable.

        I don’t know how to comment on your version of the conversation as I believe it differs from the actual conversation.

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      • Maybe you should take your own words on.
        “Oh I don’t think I’ve at all claimed that no such studies exist. That’s the problem with you fantasy land types not good at real world detail.”

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      • once again it is better if you do not reply.

        Amazing in your rundown that you totally forgot to mention:

        Dom: “What studies do you have Bubba ?”

        No answer from you but deflection.

        Bubba “Hey Dom,

        You’re the one advancing a proposition. The very original proposition that previous generations were better in some aspect than the current one.

        And now that I think about it you don’t have a study to support that proposition you have a journalistic article. Considering your efforts in our discussion on the most recent London riots I’ll treat the article with suspicion until you provide the study.”

        still no evidence from you yet you hack Dom about no evidence.

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      • Hey Alexie,

        1. I’ve suggested that as Dom is advancing a proposition (each generation are less fit, less mannered and have a shorter attention span) then his is the burden of providing evidence to support the proposition.

        2. I’ve pointed out that a CNN article is a journalistic piece not a study. I haven’t said that no such studies exist.

        With those points in mind I can’t at all see how you’ve reached your conclusions. Or how any reasonable interpretation of the record to date could support your conclusions.

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    • Hi Bryan,

      Nope I’m just commenting how amazing humanity must have been 20k years ago. Especially in the light of the development of the 100m in the last 100 years.

      I didn’t know that my role on this blog as to provide illuminating comment on each and every study that people choose to mention.

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  4. “He said churches often dealt too much with past and future visions and not enough with today’s realities.”

    And yet… the author of Hebrews 11 attacks this very statement by using examples of faith from the so called “nostalgic” past, to give us strength to meet the needs of today.

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      • No I don’t. This might be true when dealing with social culture, but not spiritual matters.

        For example I know that there are people who miss the hippie, free love, drug induced culture of the 60’s and 70’s.

        But when it comes to religion the Bible tells us to:

        “Thus says the LORD, Stand you in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it, and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it.” Jeremiah 6:16.

        It is funny though, that Bible believing and practicing Christians are told that that they miss the point, whereas the Muslims like Dom who look with nostalgia to an earlier time where people exercised more, is not told that he misses the point.

        Are you perhaps one of these people whom Jeremiah describes as “We will not walk in it”?

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      • But what is he saying? Can someone please tell me, ’cause all I hear is blah, blah, blah, blah……sorry. 😯

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      • Hi DV

        It is funny though, that Bible believing and practicing Christians are told that that they miss the point, whereas the Muslims like Dom who look with nostalgia to an earlier time where people exercised more, is not told that he misses the point.

        Difference was DV is a Muslim such as myself did not copy and paste a passage out of the text and offer an interpretation.

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  5. This has always amazed me, the wish to return to ‘simpler’ times, when things were so much ‘better’. Do people forget so easily how much worse they were in so many ways? Even the advances that for a while seem retrograde can later be seen as advantageous, if we are patient enough. The shorter attention span is one instance we would not think needed encouraging, but read here –

    9 Advantages Of Paying Less Attention

    Attention is money. There’s nothing more valuable than attention in today’s world. As a result, people who are the most selective with their attention are thriving. This means that having a short attention span – refusing to give up your attention to things that don’t matter to you and limiting your attention in environments that don’t fit you – carries with it significant advantages. Here are 9 unexpected benefits of having a short attention span:

    1. You’re more committed.

    The idea that people who have short attention spans are flaky is a myth.

    It’s not that these people can’t pay attention; it’s that they choose to only pay attention to the things that matter to them most.

    People with short attention spans are so committed to their biggest goals that they don’t have time to pay attention to things and people who are not a part of their goals. This commitment also makes them more resilient (see #5) and less likely to be manipulated (see #9).

    2. You’re more connected

    Connectors, not specialists, change the world.

    People who have an easy time paying attention to minutia and extremely narrow fields of study are at a disadvantage in today’s world. They’re limited to only seeing what’s right in front of them.

    On the other hand, people who have short attention spans are able to pick and choose from numerous fields of study and connect very different ideas in very unusual ways. They are also able to bring very different types of people together to make big things happen.

    Steve Jobs wasn’t a particularly great artist, engineer, or designer. But he was able to bring the best artists, engineers, designers, and marketers together to create amazing products and fulfill his vision (see #7).

    Richard Branson openly admits that he is horrible with numbers and details, but he is consistently able to bring amazing people together to disrupt the world’s largest industries.

    3. You have greater energy levels.

    Energy creates interest and interest creates energy.

    Whenever I started to take a test in school, my right leg would jitter up and down uncontrollably. I would also chew ravenously through an entire pack of Big Red gum.

    I also noticed that my energy levels would shoot through the roof whenever one of my teachers started discussing certain topics that I was really interested in like health, psychology, or entrepreneurship. Usually my teachers put me to sleep.

    All of this made me think I had some kind of defect. But then I found out that fidgeting increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brains of people with short attention spans. Both of these neurotransmitters have been shown to increase focus.

    I also found out that length, familiarity, and repetitiveness of a task decreases focus in people with short attentions spans (see #9). In other words, these people don’t have a defect, they simply choose to tune out when they get bored.

    Individuals with short attention spans have tons of energy. But this energy is interest-dependent. If you have a short attention span, channel your energy into the things you’re interested in or rally your interest through physical activity.

    4. You’re more flexible.

    The shorter your attention span, the more quickly you can adapt to changing circumstances.

    People who pay attention to everyone and everything have a disability. They get locked in on one way of doing things and constantly find themselves trapped in dead end positions and stale relationships.

    Everything in the world is moving more and more quickly. The only way to keep up is to keep your mind free of clutter. This means being short and selective with your attention.

    Stay committed to your principles and biggest goals (see #1), but unattached to processes and other people’s opinions.

    5. You’re more resilient.

    Juggling numerous ideas (see #7) and projects without occasionally dropping the ball is impossible. Mistakes happen. So do temporary failures. The key is to be able to pick up the balls you drop as quickly as possible and start running with them again right away. This kind of resiliency is something that people with short attention spans excel at.

    On the other hand, people who get hyper-focused on irrelevant details or who dive deeply into their emotions after mistakes are doomed to permanent failure. It’s impossible to move ahead when you’re zeroed in on the past.

    It should be hard to pay attention to mistakes, failures, negative emotions, and negative people. Don’t let anyone or anything make you feel bad about disregarding past.

    6. You are more intelligent.

    Intelligent people refuse to pay attention to everything.

    Skimming and forgetting things easily — two things often ascribed to people with short attention spans — have been shown to promote rather than inhibit a person’s overall intelligence.

    A survey of 900 experts interviewed for a Pew Internet report found that browsing or skimming the Internet enhances human intelligence. The majority of the experts agreed that this kind of short attention span behavior was in fact improving people’s reading and writing abilities, as well as their overall grasp of knowledge.

    Albert Einstein famously said, “Never memorize something that you can look up.” Einstein was also known to pay people to follow him around to write down his ideas as he thought of them so he wouldn’t have to waste valuable brain space by remembering everything.

    Being able to scan the horizon of human knowledge without getting tripped up on details that don’t matter is a critical skill that people with short attention spans can easily master.

    7. You have better ideas.

    More than anything else, people with short attention spans excel and having incredible ideas. Their ideas are bigger, more abundant, and more novel than the average person’s ideas. This is because they are able to connect things

    Consider Albert Einstein again and John Lennon (from The Beatles). Both of these men’s achievements were groundbreaking precisely because of their short attention spans. As Sam Anderson of New York magazine suggests, Einstein and Lennon’s distracted nature is what allowed them to link and synthesize things that had previously been unlinked—Newtonian gravity and particle physics for Einstein, rock and blues and folk and doo-wop and bubblegum pop and psychedelia for Lennon.

    Distraction is the mother of invention.

    8. You have a bigger vision.

    I rarely watch TV but when I do I find myself clicking through every channel at least once to see what all of my options are before settling on a single one.

    I do the same thing with the radio in a rental car when I’m driving through a new town. I’ll hit the scan button and (even if I find a good song) I’ll keep scanning until I’ve gone through every station.

    This is how people with short attention spans treat life. They’ll constantly scan through everything that’s available, looking for the best ideas, people, and opportunities to pluck up and insert into the vision that they have for their lives (see #2 and #7). As a result, they are able to create and fulfill much bigger visions than the average person.

    The only way to maintain a bird’s eye view of the world is to never get stuck focusing too much on one thing. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should never care deeply about anything. It means that you should never limit your perspective.

    9. You are manipulated less.

    Contrary to popular belief, people with short attention spans are more self-aware.

    They know what they want and what they’re really interested in and quickly forget anything else as a result. Individuals with this kind of mindfulness carry with them the added bonus of being able to see through people and things that try to manipulate them.

    Unlike the average person, people with short attention spans on not easily influenced by marketers and salesmen. They don’t chase shiny objects easily. Just the opposite. They see past shiny objects. They ignore carrots and sticks — the cheap incentives and superficial threats that swindle the average person.

    This is why people with short attention spans are often the most successful businessmen, businesswomen, and entrepreneurs. They don’t get stuck seeking approval and chasing other people’s dreams; they chase their own dreams.

    http://www.isaiahhankel.com/short-attention-span

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    • So our culture is being transformed, our brains are being retrained, and God is in charge.

      quote/-
      Lessons from Past Transformations

      Each transitional period offers opportunities or the Christian church. The most important lesson we can learn from past transitions is that Christian people need to recognize that transitions offer special opportunity for faithful Christian discipleship.

      Because there have always been bold and creative Christian leaders for each transformation, we do not know what would have happened to the Christian message if the church had remained unchanged. We can only guess what might have happened if Paul had been rejected by the church in Jerusalem and forbidden to share Christianity with the Roman world. The Christian movement church might have died out after a few years. We do know that the church as it existed in Jerusalem in biblical times no longer exists.

      The biblical report of the first transformation of Christianity is extremely helpful as the church looks toward its next transition. It is important that we do not completely reject the current expression of Christianity in the world. It is also important to learn from the experience of the transformation to a print dominated era. If we will view the transformation as a faithful response to a change in the dominant medium of communication in the culture, then the transformation of the church can be a time of developing greater Christian unity and, in the end, a more faithful presence of the Body of Christ.
      end quote/
      http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=192

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    • Strewth,

      Your whole article confuses short attention span with “Focus” and “concentration” on what one is doing.

      A number of points are self contradictory. For example:

      “It’s not that these people can’t pay attention; it’s that they choose to only pay attention to the things that matter to them most.”

      This contradicts:

      “Connectors, not specialists, change the world.

      People who have an easy time paying attention to minutia and extremely narrow fields of study are at a disadvantage in today’s world. They’re limited to only seeing what’s right in front of them.”

      In fact this contradicts reality; we need both. Branston and Jobs could be the greatest connectors in the world, but without specialists, they are useless. Who would they connect with each other?

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      • Perhaps you are focussing so much on the trees that you’re missing the forest, Davinci. Never the less, your opinion is as important as his.

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      • Perhaps you are focussing so much on the trees that you’re missing the forest, Davinci.

        Tell that to those who suffer heart conditions which may be saved by the specialist knowledge of a heart surgeon.

        Or maybe you would send these patients to someone whose knowledge of heart disease has come from playing the game “operation”?

        Tell that to people who suffer traffic congestion. Do you send their concerns to Traffic Engineer Specialists for resolution, or to those internet cowboys who have played “Sim City”, “Pharaoh”, “Poseidon”, “Atlantis”, “Emperor”, “Age of Empires”, “Caesar”, etc. All these games are based on knowledge of project management skills exhibited by such celebrities as Steve Jobs and Richard Branston. All these game players have a broad knowledge of the world (after all they surf the net so they should shouldn’t they)?

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      • Davinci, it’s not that these people can’t pay attention; it’s that they choose to only pay attention to the things that matter to them most. When that happens they are more than capable of giving full attention to minute detail.

        I know you don’t get it, but that’s okay. You do get things that are beyond others.

        But just to rehash what happens when you focus only on things that really matter –
        1. You’re more committed.
        2. You’re more connected
        3. You have greater energy levels.
        4. You’re more flexible.
        5. You’re more resilient.
        6. You are more intelligent.

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    • Here is another one that contradicts reality.

      8. You have a bigger vision.

      No. You are bored out of your brain. It is human nature to pay close attention to something that is of interest to you. Hence you wouldn’t be flicking through every channel under the sun, if you were not bored.

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    • Here is one that attacks Jesus Christ and what He came down to earth to achieve.

      “People who pay attention to everyone and everything have a disability. They get locked in on one way of doing things and constantly find themselves trapped in dead end positions and stale relationships.”

      When Jesus gave us a solution to the problem of worry, He used the illustration of lilies of the valley (Mat. 6:28). To use this illustration He would have had to pay extremely close attention to detail.

      When Jesus explained why some people reject the gospel and others receive it, He used the Parable of the Sower (Mat. 13). To even come up with such a parable, He would have had to pay close attention to everything and everyone around Him.

      Jesus said that trust with big things is contingent on faithfulness in little things (Luke 16:10). Coming from Jesus Christ himself is this a disability or an advantage?

      Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus is able to sympathise with us because He was tempted like us. This is probably the greatest example of paying attention to everything and everyone. He could have come as one of these “social butterflies” type messiahs who was big on morality but no idea how to implement this morality because He had no idea what makes individuals tick. But no, because He was tempted in all things like we are, because He paid attention to detail, He is able to understand what makes you and me tick.

      “People who pay attention to everyone and everything have a disability”. Yep! That is what his family and friends said about Jesus:

      “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”” Mark 3:21.

      “They get locked in on one way of doing things and constantly find themselves trapped in dead end positions and stale relationships.” Yep! That is exactly what happens when Jesus tries to form a relationship with those who have no interest in Him, or who have a diametrically opposed world view to Him. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). God’s dealing with mankind in the past is how He will deal with us today.

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  6. ” Bonhoeffer apparently envisioned a religionless Christianity. All Christians are to become the real living body of Christ. This body of Christ, which is the church, he said, would become the complete self-surrender to the other. Parallel and along with Christ, who surrendered His physical body for the salvation of man, so the church, in the form of its members, perfectly self-surrenders to the other. Thus in practice one becomes entirely committed and consumed into the other. Initially this may sound somewhat too philosophical, which it is, but especially this emphasis on self-surrender has become socially and ethically very attractive. The added attraction to this theology is how Bonhoeffer himself held onto this teaching at the cost of his own life.”

    http://defenceofthetruth.com/2015/03/religionless-christianity/

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    • “What, then, about religionless Christianity? It depends on what is meant by this term. But when we read Scripture and hear what the Lord God teaches about Himself, we humbly stand in awe at His great and glorious majesty. This involves our entire being – heart, mind and soul.”

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      • “It depends on what is meant by this term”

        But if one knows who Bonhoeffer was and what he wrote you would know he had a very strong and essential understanding of Christ. He cut away the fluff and wanted to focus people on jesus. This is why he says religiousness Christianity.

        You have to understand how he saw those around him at that time.

        Some depth here is critical to understanding him, or anything about Christ.

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      • “But what power did Bonhoeffer wield in 1933? He was 27 years old, financially dependent on his parents, and virtually bereft of experience in the working world. His sole professional appointment was an unpaid, non-tenure-track position as a voluntary lecturer. Adjunct professors don’t normally stand athwart emperors.

        Yet Bonhoeffer did. Within weeks of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, Bonhoeffer declared in public that the Führer was offering a false path to salvation—and, in private, that Hitler was an antichrist. When the Nazis called for ethnically Jewish Christians to be expelled from the churches, he alone insisted that the gospel was at stake. (Initially even Karl Barth, like other anti-Nazi dissenters who founded the Confessing Church, claimed that this was merely a question of church order, not a theological issue.) Marsh, director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia, makes a convincing case that by 1933, Bonhoeffer was the most radical and outspoken opponent of Nazi church policy.”
        http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/may/bonhoeffer-against-world-charles-marsh-strange-glory.html

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      • Phrases like cheap grace, costly grace, and religionless Christianity are common coin, because they come from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s two best-known books, The Cost of Discipleship and Letters and Papers from Prison.

        But what about the rest of Bonhoeffer’s writings, now being republished in sixteen volumes in German? What else might today’s reader find stimulating and helpful?

        Here are brief introductions to Bonhoeffer’s books, including many that deserve to be more widely known.https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/exploring-bonhoeffers-writings/

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    • There is no such thing as a religionless Christianity. Because religion is defined in terms of a relationship or a contract between a human being and what s/he believes is a supernatural being (which we believe Jesus Christ is).

      The problem with Bonhoeffer and his contemporaries was that they were treating Christ as something less than a supernatural being. Once people believed that Jesus was no longer a supernatural being, they no longer took seriously the doctrines that originated with a supernatural being.

      Bonhoeffer went one step further and threw the water out with the baby. Instead of realising that the doctrines taught by the church, originated with a supernatural being, he rejected them, on grounds that people (who rejected Jesus as God) did not take them seriously.

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      • Seventy years ago this year Deitrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis for standing up for his faith.

        I wonder if you or I would have done the same davinci?

        Within weeks of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, Bonhoeffer declared in public that the Führer was offering a false path to salvation—and, in private, that Hitler was an antichrist. When the Nazis called for ethnically Jewish Christians to be expelled from the churches, he alone insisted that the gospel was at stake.

        He said about Christ…

        “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” (The Cost of Discipleship)

        “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

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      • I have read a lot about him and nowhere did I get the impressions he thought God was not supernatural.

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      • The last book Bonhoeffer published in his lifetime was “The Prayerbook of the Bible.” He writes this book while in prison for his participation in a plot to kill Hitler, and the subject of the book is the Psalms. Remember, the Psalms of the Old Testament are Jewish literature. You can bet that the Nazis weren’t all that thrilled with publishing books celebrating Jewish literature. Apparently he was unaware that such material had to be submitted to the Board for the Regulation of Literature before publication. Bonhoeffer was sticking it to The Third Reich at the same time he was teaching Christians how to come closer to Christ Jesus.

        I read about Bonhoeffer’s thoughts on prayer in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas, a book I received from my parents last Christmas.

        In this book, Bonhoeffer suggests that we naturally wish, hope, sigh, lament and rejoice—but we should not confuse these things with prayer. Unlike these internal and natural impulses, prayer is supernatural in that it must be initiated from outside of us, by God. For this reason, he encourages Christians to pray the Psalms as Christ did. Our own prayers would travel to heaven along with those of Christ.

        Metaxas points out that praying the Psalms was much too Jewish for the Nazis, and probably too Catholic for the Protestants, who don’t go for recited prayers, but Bonhoeffer was insistent that Christians must pray the Psalms.

        Because of this publication of this little book, he Bonhoeffer was forbidden to publish anything again.

        Whether you accept Bonhoeffer’s imperative on the praying of the Psalms, it is important to understand that prayer is a supernatural activity. My problem is that I usually forget this and do what comes naturally: “wishing, hoping, sighing, lamenting and rejoicing” (Metaxas 368).

        Praying with the Psalms—which means praying with Christ (as well as the historical Church)—will at least externalize the source of my own prayers and once again remind me that my ability to approach God at all is his gift of grace.http://trentdejong.com/supernatural-prayer/

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