During the 1930s two books rose to prominence. Most of us still know and have, perhaps, read one of them: “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.
The other book, also a massive bestseller, was written by a French priest, writer and lecturer named Ernest Dimnet. Dimnet’s book did not remain a bestseller like Carnegie’s. But last year I happened upon it. It’s titled “The Art of Thinking.”
It’s interesting to observe the state of our culture and then compare the rise and fall of these two books. One teaches us how to influence others, a self-help book for the ages, or so they say. The other, a book on how to think. One book will help you get ahead in this world, the other book will encourage you to slow down and to be a person who truly “sees.”
We are not a thinking culture. We are not a seeing culture.
We solve problems.
We get things done.
Thinking takes a backseat to results.
But I would argue now is a good time for our culture to stop, and have a think.
During my time in England studying under Alister McGrath, he often used the phrase, “have a think.”
Once, when I was unraveling a strand of thought in C.S. Lewis’s work on the concept of “Northernness,” Professor McGrath told me to take a couple months, “have a think” and do a deep dive on the idea, then get back to him.
A few years of “having a think” can do wonders to your rhythm of life.
I’m often shocked at how quickly and brashly people on social media and on blogs react and respond. And usually, it is without thinking.
But it’s not only social media reactions that reveal our lack of thinking. It’s what we emphasize, as leaders, as Christians, as the Church: speed, efficiency, acting. These are not bad qualities in and of themselves but solely emphasized they dry up the human spirit and turn us into stressed-out versions of our intended selves.
But what does a thinker look like, act like?