Thursday Share: How to Think

I’ve been a big fan of Alan Jacobs since I took a class from him back in college. Since then, Dr. Jacobs has moved to Baylor and become a prominent Christian intellectual. Like C.S. Lewis (about whom Jacobs has written a great biography), Jacobs doesn’t cloister himself away with his fellow scholars, writing books beyond the concerns of the ordinary person. Instead, he uses his great mind to write thoughtfully and clearly about how to live a faithful and good life.

In this vein, he just published How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds. The ambitious title obviously recommends itself to our present culture. We so often find ourselves in conflict with one another, yet completely unequipped to argue reasonably. Important moral questions devolve into petty attacks and distracting non-sequiturs. Consider how recent protests meant to stir vital conversations about race and justice spiraled into a name-calling circus that has short-circuited any real dialogue.

I wrote about some of the big ideas in Jacobs’ book as a guide for pastors trying to ‘think better’ in their preaching, and David Brooks of the New York Times provides a helpful introduction to the book.

But I wanted to share a blog post from Jacobs himself, in which he reflects on something he ended up cutting from the book for space. He writes about wrongness, reminding us that we are often wrong (shocking, I know) and that others are often wrong, too. But being wrong is not the same as being wicked. An error in thinking doesn’t automatically imply evil intentions. This short little post can help you see through and steer away from much of the muck that passes for commentary on television and online—it can help us all think better.