DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Let us Think

Written by: on April 16, 2015

To think is to reflect, contemplate and then assimilate those reflections and contemplations into some form or fashion of an idea. Yet It seems to me that the average man or woman does not take the time to think, reflect, or contemplate much of anything. I have passed by restaurant tables (and circles in the church lobbies) and overheard conversations that are intent and emotional and yet the substance of the conversation is shallow and empty. Who made it to the final four? What do you think of this or that college team? How are the favorite teams looking this year? Or perhaps the conversation is more about the entertainment industry of this sitcom or another, that new show, or perhaps the personal feelings of the latest movie. And finally there is the conversations that border on gossip of what this friend said to that friend or how this friend is now dating that friend who is the X-mate of this friend and so goes the chatter.

Though I have nothing personally against such conversations nor do I abstain from engaging myself in such dialogue. The unfortunate thing is that there seems to be no balance, or little that I can see. We have the typical Facebook chatter of shallowness but no balance of deep meaningful conversations that move beyond the surface level of our own existence. Even in most sermons of our modernistic church world there is little depth to be found in the presentation from the pastors behind the pulpit. Often the very men and women who are to bring some semblance to our chaotic world and anchor us into deep spiritual truths find their fodder for their messages in the latest sitcom or in the underdog sports story to the final four. Don’t get me wrong, I believe wholeheartedly in contextualization and in making contemporary analogies, part of my dissertation will be focused on this very subject, however, there seems to be a disconnect a lock of focus on deep spiritual ideas or of any attempt of making sense of the many contemporary philosophies that are swirling about our shallow-Facebook-chattering world.

Just a quick survey of my average daily news feed. Out of 25 updates from friends, colleagues, and those pseudo-friends there is a myriad of interesting chatter. There’s a video of a dancing cow, a rant of a young mother regarding her child’s wardrobe, a picture posted of the morning routine of drinking coffee, (granted, coffee in some areas is considered a very spiritual experience J), and there was a video of Obama and Kim Jong-un playing at an outdoor concert. In the midst of all this frivolity someone is requesting prayer for their grandmother in the hospital. Hitting a deeper note, someone is asking for God to intervene in the human trafficking blight that is across our land sharing the story of the arrest of men and the rescue of several young women. And then back to more funny videos.

We cannot deny the fact that we live in a Facebook-hashtag-microwave-hot-and-ready-now society. Has the continual barrage of shallow speech deaden us to the truly important conversations that we should be having? Can we in today’s society really stop to ask the question that the philosophers of old would ask? Why do we exist in this world at all? What is life all about? Have all the really good questions already been asked and answered so that we cannot come up with any new questions?

In William Raeper and Linda Smith’s book A Brief Guide to ideas: Turning Points in the History of Human Thought, we get an overview of the epic questions and the thinkers who stopped and took the time to grapple for answers be they mathematical, philosophical, religious, psychological, relativism, pragmatism, or relativistic. All fields had giants that took the time to think. And in their thinking they turned the course of history. Where have all the great thinkers gone? Has the tsunami of Facebook rabble overwhelmed our senses that we fail to take the time to dig deep and give our fellow human meaning to this superficial existence? May it be said of us the same that was said of Immanuel Kant, “He was indifferent to nothing worth knowing…He incited and gently forced others to think for themselves.”[1] For as Raeper and Smith exhort us religious people, “For religious believers…to talk about religion is to discuss truth and ultimate realty.”[2] Let us be about speaking truth and ultimate reality for we live and move and have our being in Him.

[1] William Raeper and Linda Smith, A Brief Guide to Ideas: Turning Points in the History of Human Thought (Oxford, England: Lion Publishing, 1991), 250.

[2] Ibid., 271.

About the Author


Mitch Arbelaez

International Mission Mobilizers with Go To Nations Living and traveling the world from Jacksonville Florida

5 responses to “Let us Think”

  1. mm Ashley Goad says:

    Ohhh, Mitch. What an interesting post! I sensed a bit of frustration and great questions! Do we never go below the surface conversation because we lack trust? Do we never go deeper with emotions or feelings because we fear being perceived as weak? Is it because it’s easy to talk about the game? Is that just the ice-breaker to something deeper? … I love talking sports. In fact, with those outside my inner-circle I don’t break the plane of sports and idle chatter. I smile and nod, and ask the questions to get them talking, but never do the sharing myself. Perhaps it is a relationship and humility question… We live in a superficial, Facebook posting world where only the surface matters. We are afraid of vulnerability. …. So that would be a fantastic new question to ask? How can we create relationships deep enough to foster humility and vulnerability? 🙂

  2. mm Deve Persad says:

    Mitch, you are asking a lot of good questions in this post. In particular this question: “Has the continual barrage of shallow speech deaden us to the truly important conversations that we should be having?” is one that I also am intrigued about. It seems that we will be unable to reverse the onslaught of trivial information that we are constantly bombarded with, so the challenge really is how to engage this culture and speak into the deep parts of people’s lives. One of the premises that is challenging me right now is making personal interaction more personal and meaningful whether it’s a few seconds or a few minutes. What suggestions would you have?

    • Deve, I have found that if I ask the deeper question then the conversation will go deeper most of the time. I ask questions like “What has God been saying to you lately?” or “What have you been reading recently in your quite time with the Lord?” “How are you felling about your relationship with Christ?”
      These type of questions have been able to get the conversation moving in the right direction. I have found that others appreciate me asking since it seems no one else goes “there” with them.

  3. mm John Woodward says:

    Mitch, a truly do share you frustrations. I worked for a number of years with college students and found that my mind often went numb after a while that I longed for intellectual stimulation. (May that is where my interest in philosophy came from…needing some place to exercise my mind!). I wonder though, as any good physiologist would suggest, that there is always something going on deeper in people that we only glimpse through their outward actions and activities. I am wondering if our disconnect, hollow and mindless communication is really speaking volumes to heart and soul of people in our modern society? How can people who have little within contribute to conversions of substance? It would seem that indeed something is terribly amiss in our modern world…more than just the fact that people aren’t curious in matters of greater substance or thinking. All this chatter is covering up, don’t you think, empty and meaningless lives? Instead of frustration, I think it should lead us to mourning and sadness for people. How much really are they missing out on life if videos of kittens is all they have to live for? Again, Mitch, you have me thinking in new directions. Thanks for sharing your passions and concerns. Great post!

  4. mm Julie Dodge says:

    Great post, Mitch!

    I was taken in by this early statement: “Yet It seems to me that the average man or woman does not take the time to think, reflect, or contemplate much of anything. ” I concur. And then I wonder why. Are they too busy? Do they feel ill equipped to tackle the big stuff? Or is it that in our information inundated world, there is a deep insecurity? The economy, climate change, wars and rumors of war, homelessness, poverty… It can be overwhelming to figure out what can I, as one person, do. It’s safer, and easier, to disconnect from the larger world and insulate myself with the security of simple things – the things in my immediate world or stuff of relative little societal impact. I know that if my team loses, life will go on. If I gossip about another person’s misfortune, my world seems safer. “The world is not a pretty place.” (Chaim Potok wrote in the book, “My Name is Asher Lev.” It’s scary to go big. There’s more risk. If I open myself up to the bigger things of life, I will likely find myself responsible. But all the same, I think that is the goal that both you and I are working toward in this program. We desire to see people connect with each other in meaningful ways. I want people to care for one another so that we may then work together to address whatever is on our hearts. And I think we both know that people need a safe anchor in order to engage in the big world. I believe that is Jesus.

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