Digestable #5: Martin Luther Rewired Your Brain, Dwell App, The Bible Project, Memorization for Meditation and Mindfulness

Welcome to another edition of Digestable, the short, weekly email where I share information, ideas, and what’s new with me. There is a clear theme again this week, and it is of biblical proportions! This content was emailed to subscribers on February 21st, 2021.

Love it or hate it, if you want to understand the [western] world, you’ll need to be acquainted with the themes in the Bible. According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible “has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating. With estimated total sales of over five billion copies, it is widely considered to be the best-selling book of all time. As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually.

Here’s what’s on this Bible-thumper’s mind this week:

  • Martin Luther Rewired Your Brain: Professor and Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, Joseph Henrich, describes the physical changes that have occurred in our brains as we become literate (one of the trade-offs of becoming literate is reduced facial recognition!). We can trace these adaptations in our brains through history in response to advancements in literacy. And where does Joseph Henrich trace these changes back to? A “religious mutation in the Sixteenth Century”: Martin Luther’s conviction that EVERY person, not just the cultural/religious elite, should be able to read and interpret the Bible for themselves. Thank you David Perell for recommending this article.
  • The Bible Project Podcast and Videos: To make sense of the Bible, it helps to understand the historical context and the languages it was written in. The Bible Project is a great resource for this. Their animated videos are educational & entertaining for adults and kids alike, and the podcast goes deeper to geek out over the details. My boys and I recently enjoyed this podcast episode, “God or gods?” that highlights why the English words “God”, and “monotheism”, are inadequate to talk about how the biblical authors thought about God. Thank you to Dennis Landon for recommending this episode.
  • Dwell – Audio Bible App. This is the Spotify of the Bible. Choose from curated playlists of Bible stories, themes, or even playlists to put you to sleep. Choose your favorite voice (my favorite is “Kylie”), choose a version, and choose your background music. This is one of the tools I reach for when I can’t sleep. This app was the fourth largest project on Kickstarter and they have clearly invested in high quality voices.
  • Memorization for Meditation and Mindfulness: This is a recent post I wrote to draw attention to a powerful, performance-enhancing tool that has fallen out of fashion – memorization. I include a list of passages from the Bible I have used to build a memorization practice from.
  • ​Quote I’m Pondering: “Unless we manipulate our surroundings, we have as little control over what and whom we think about as we do over the muscles of our hearts.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb in The Bed of Procrustes

Thanks again for following along. If you know someone who would like to receive these types of updates from me, please forward this email to them. If you are enjoying this newsletter, I’d love it if you shared it with a friend or two. They can register their email address on my blog jefferysutherland.com or by emailing me at the email address below.

I’d love to hear what’s new with you as well, and should you come across anything noteworthy this week please send it my way!

Yours truly,

P.S. The ice tower at Frontier Lodge in Nordegg, AB is in prime condition for ice climbing right now. My boys and I had perfect afternoon of climbing on Family Day. Get out there before the season is over. You can make a day trip of it from Edmonton, or have Frontier Lodge provide accommodations and meals for a longer stay. Find out more here.

Ice climbing at Frontier Lodge, Nordegg, AB
The Ice Tower at Frontier Lodge on Monday, February 15, 2021

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