As a society, we are becoming increasingly aware of the effects of social media, such as Facebook, upon psychological functioning. Russell Moore was prompted by an essay in Slate to write an essay entitled “Why Facebook (and Your Church) May be Making You Sad.” Moore rightly points out that not only does Facebook present a limited, often happy, view of others, we tend to see the same thing in our churches. Some venues of public Christianity celebrate, but do not lament, are happy (even if artificial) but rarely sorrowful. Moore writes, “Let’s not be embarrassed to shout for joy, and let’s not be embarrassed to weep in sorrow. Let’s train ourselves not for spin control, but for prayer, for repentance, for joy.” And, may I add, let us encourage others along this path as well.
In the last issue, an essay about Michael Patton’s struggle with depression was presented in Around the Web. In a similar vein, Justin Taylor presented a brief essay by Bob Kauflin, who went through a period of anxiety and hopelessness after planting a church. In a few paragraphs, Kauflin described the depths of his sorrow, yet it was when a friend told him that he was not hopeless enough that he turned a corner toward healing. These narratives from Christian leaders can be useful in our work with others.
“The Myth of the Teen Brain” was the topic of an essay by Dr Robert Epstein in Scientific American Mind. Dr Epstein draws from psychology, neuroscience, anthropology in arguing that contrary to much popular opinion, adolescent rebellion is not an inevitable life stage. In fact, he argues that adolescent rebellion is a myth perpetuated by science and media alike. Epstein cites Edward Valenstein, a respected neuroscientist and author of Blaming the Brain, who suggested, “we make a serious error of logic when we blame almost any behavior on the brain—especially when drawing conclusions from brain-scanning studies.” In a psychological era dominated, in many respects by neuroscience, we need to be careful not to overextend the data in drawing conclusions. Although members of the media, and by extension general society, may be susceptible to colorful brain pictures, as professionals involved in soul care, we must cautiously interpret research and with an eye to Scripture.
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