Intentional Attention [Conversations on Technology and Christian Faithfulness]
Intentional Attention [Conversations on Technology and Christian Faithfulness]


Another thing. I’ve been very much, uh, contemplating since the first
day of our seminar is, uh, forms of attention and how we’re trained
to give attention to certain things. And one of the great questions that
Alan Jacobs asked at one point was, how can we intentionally structure our
lives so that those things that are most worthy of our attention are in fact
the things most proximate to us. Those are the things actually near
us to us so that we don’t have to go searching far and wide to give
attention to the right things. But actually we give attention to the
things nearest to us because those are the things most worthy of attention. And this question of
attention technically, um, catechesis that our culture does, um, to us so that we’re actually trained
to give attention actually to what our culture tells us to give
attention to like, um, here’s what you ought to spend your money
on and here’s how you become the kind of a person who will spend your money in
the ways that the broader culture wants you to. That there are really these
deeply informed sort of
motivations behind practices with social media and everything else
to inculcate these sort of consumerist habits and how contrary some of those
consumers habits are to what we actually as Christians want to do in the world.
What we want to do with the world, um, and the ways that we want to engage it. So that question about what we give
attention to and how we give attention to the right things and
then related Lee to the, then those other opposing concepts of
like Christian vision of the world. And then I’m sort of this technically
and also then the consumerist division in the world. I think those, those
intersect and interesting. Yeah, I asked her that. It was interesting
when we were talking about, um, when Josh brought up the
idea of like, you know, who’s job is it right to
really educate, you know, should this be the job at the church
or the family and the history of what happened. Um, how education
came to be. Right. And in terms of the university or the, the Christian school being
kind of like a, a missional, like way of kind of partnering
with the Church, um, and how important it is in terms of, um, as you know, in that
Christian mission, right. To, to actually like be
mentoring students, um, because of the forces of the world,
right? Because of the fact that, um, this, this time that we have them is so
critical in terms of how they are forming their identity, right. In terms of
how they’re seeing themselves and how, how their lives are going
to play out in the world. How much of this is our job really? Like, shouldn’t this be the job of the
church or shouldn’t this be the job of, but the reality is those
forces are so strong. And I thought it was really
interesting to hear, you know, historically how did this come to be
that we have so much responsibility for, you know, mentoring students and, and how did this become the Christian
mission? Is this the right institution? Yeah. I thought that was also, um,
very insightful and provocative. It’s making me rethink, you know, well, I’ve been in the process of trying to
think about how do my wife and I raised four kids. So we’ve got 10
year old, nine year old, six year old and four year olds and
we’re thinking about their education and that discussion and, and
the strength of that, um, consumerist, uh, catechesis, but the history of education,
like you’re saying, actually coming alongside the
church to help form human persons, that definitely is making
me think again about, um, the role of education and also the role
of Christian education and how important that actually is. So in one sense
that discussion said, uh, you know, at the end of it I was like, man, I’m
so glad to be teaching at bio law. What an exciting place to be,
where we can do that work. But what a huge task it is to try to
offer a different catechesis than the one that a lot of our students have already
sort of swallowed accidentally. Right. And then how do I also provide for my
kids accounter a catechesis so that they don’t just accidentally absorb
the one that the culture is, is establishing. I had the opportunity to see, to
kind of have been in both camps, right? So have had my oldest daughter in
public school and then be working in the public school and then be seeing what
are the influences of that on the formation of the students
and to have worked in like a, that institutional setting and now being
in a Christian institutional setting and then see my other children go through
a Christian high school and then via viola and, and so I have two,
two things of comparison, right? So in, in, in terms of being able to, to see more value in, you know, not just as somebody who’s the mentor,
Right. With someone else’s children, but to also see how significant that
is and has been and can be with my own children. I never told my, my, my kids that they had to come to
by Ola. Um, because I feel like if, if you say this is your only choice,
then that’s likely to happen. Yeah. But I did say to my children, because I it cause I worked full time and
went to school full time and part time for four years. So my, my, my situation’s a little different from
most of the professors here. You know, by the time I got my phd I told my
kids, you’re calling doctor mom. So for them I said I worked really hard, really long to be able to give you this
benefit that a lot of students have to pay a lot of money for it. Right.
And if you want to go someplace else, then you have to figure
out how to do it right. Because this is something
that’s, you know. Um, but thankfully my son who was
like the most antagonistic, well I’m never going to go to viola.
You know, I told him, um, last, I think it was a couple of
weeks ago, I said, hey Ba, cause he’s in ninth grade now. I was like, next summer where you need to go
looking for colleges, you know, we’re going to do the road trip and
we’re going to go look at places. And he’s like, mom, why I’m just going
to go to viola. And I said, well, you know, you want to keep your options
open. You know, we’ll look at things. That’ll be fun. We’ll get to go on
a road trip together. And you know, when I was listening to,
to our conversation this
afternoon, I was thinking, you know, this is a blessing in
disguise that he’s kind of like, because I feel like this is such a
great place for them to be when they’re, when they have those questions and they
have to make those decisions. Right? Yeah. Yeah. And the role that, uh, came out that role of having
teachers who are actually for them, you know, for their formation, for further Christian formation rather
than either just negligence of it or against it, that they’re actually w which, and then you might have
some who are for it, but here like a consistent environment
and professors who actually want the best for the students and
who then can model, uh, Christian character and Christian
living and Christian practice of their discipline and all of these things.
I do think that, um, you know, that’s something I’m excited about too. Hoping my kids will
someday come here as well. I mean, you’re a theologian. So Alan
asked us today how, how do you do, how do you do your discipline,
the faith and learning, right? Do you think about what that looks like
outside of theology in terms of what, what are the students
experiencing in other areas? Yeah. Okay. That’s a great question. So
I have thought quite a bit about it. Um, the integration of theology with
philosophy is that’s obviously sort of the nearest conversation partner, um,
default theology. But then also to, uh, things like literature or
the social sciences because
we’re talking about people and their relationship with God. And so it’s not like this is
just an abstract discipline, but it actually has to take
into consideration other
things we know about human people and we have common interests in
identity. So this, this idea of like, yeah, God has given us a certain identity as
his image and in relationship with him in a covenantal identity. But then we
have a range of other identities. Uh, our ethnicity or race are, you know, national background, uh, and then more even local identities.
So I grew up in rural Illinois, in rural, and that forms
me in a certain way, but obviously that’s different than
someone growing up in the La area or whatever. But then
personal identities too. How even within those social dynamics, each of us has our own personal
way of imagining, you know, who we are and living in the world. So
how do those, like I’m very interested, I’m moving forward actually. And, and,
um, that relationship between those two, what, what is, um, these created identities that got us set
in place and they’re fixed for all of us as humans, but then we have all of these sort
of individual identities and social identities. How does, how do
those relate to each other? Um, and I think that that’s a
deep area of integration, right? And I also think, um, what does
the world tell us about our identities? Right? And why did what and what does
God tell us about those identities? That’s also really important. I know one of the things with my
heritage learners is they grew up in this society that doesn’t value being bilingual
or doesn’t value cultures other than kind of being American. And so they feel like they have to choose
or compromise or to to assimilate to become. And so one of the things in my
class that we talk about is, you know, arcaded identity and also God’s value for
language and God’s value for diversity as a way to kind of have
them think about like, how has God created me
to be bilingual, right? To have this experience of being bilingual
and to have this cultural experience, and then how can I use the way God
created me to bless others? Right.

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