Friday, February 25, 2011

Borders and Crossing the Line

With the closing of 30% of Borders stores and its chapter 11 bankruptcy this may be the end of the book as we know it.  Mike Shatzkin in the Wall Street Journal predicts a 90% reduction in bricks an mortar bookstores as Amazon and e-readers take over the market.  Are traditional books to follow and with it, perhaps analytic and grounded thinking.  

I offer myself and my own thinking as examples.  I read a lot of stuff online.  As I look for sermon illustrations and even insights on passages I often scour the internet for illumination, but often I don't trust what I get online because everyone's opinion is on here and who is to say it is worthwhile.  So I often turn to books, articles and to commentaries from trusted authors and publishers.  As books and publishers and even bookstores fade, where will all of these things be grounded?  What and who will we recognize as authorities or at least as informed people whose opinion should be considered and trusted?  The internet is full of opinions, many of them are completely uninformed, developing unfounded conspiracy theories, making seriously defective conclusions. Thus the reason for websites like The concern for critical thinking as it relates to students and adults has quickly become a concern in Academia. in 2000-2002, 16 articles and books at least were written  to address the reality that we need to do a better job helping young people internalize truth and reject unfounded claims.  Suffice to say, the prospect of undermined quality printed material makes this more difficult.

Ultimately, this brings me back to Scripture and that we as believers say that God's Word is authoritative.   Without authority, we are all free to make our own reality.  We make our own rules, we make ourselves our own gods.  That may sound good at the outset.  I think that making our own reality and self actualization  are things that our culture promotes.  But when it comes down to it ultimately self centeredness is a dead end.  Without things we all hold in common we will become increasingly divided.  Without a common law a common authority we'd find ourselves in anarchy pretty quickly.  In the same way without a common authority (or at the very least opinions based in fact) we'll quickly descend into intellectual anarchy where every opinion is equally valid.  Even the stupid ones.  Even the dangerous ones. 

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