Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Personal Confession About My Attention Span

Today, I was reading G.K. Beale's essay "The Role of Resurrection in the Already and Not-Yet Phases of Justification" from the John Piper festschrift For the Fame of God's Name and I decided to commit myself to reading the entire Beale chapter before the day was out. This challenge has exposed my own painful faults. In this context, they are at least two. (1) I have a serious attention problem. This is only a twenty-page essay, but it is so hard for me to go more than two pages without getting up and walking around for no apparent reason. (2) I am more brainless than I thought, and I've had to read and re-read many of Beale's sentences just to understand the arguments he is making. This is no fault of Greg Beale's.

As part of my own preparation to enter seminary in a year or so, I am taking upon myself higher-level theological reading. This has included Vos' Biblical Theology, small helpings of Bavinck, Guy Waters' book The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology, and J.V. Fesko's Word Water & Spirit. I can't read any of these books without feeling perpetually distracted as well. It's just a part of my fidgety nature, and I hate it! I will have to really focus on this area of my life and slowly wean myself into reading in longer stretches without being distracted. I think that reading for longer stretches will help me to more greatly appreciate the arguments being offered. Instead of just reading books, I want to be reading books, if that makes any sense.

Maybe I am just a computer-addicted, television-assaulted, music loving American who is surrounded by distractions! But I have to swim like the salmon against the stream of my own inclinations if I want to be of any use to the church. But these realizations about my attention span scared me, mainly because it confirmed in many ways the truthfulness of T. David Gordon's arguments in Why Johnny Can't Preach. If Gordon is right (and I think he is) I evidently need to stop watching Fringe and start reading Shakespeare.


  1. I've always had pretty bad attention-deficit difficulties. I don't know how serious your problem is, but mine is definitely an attentive disorder of the brain; only proper medication can alleviate my symptoms. If you're not able to shake this problem by the time you head to school, I would glowingly endorse Adderall. It has changed my life and those of many others. Like night and day, I tell you.

  2. I'm going to try to change myself with willpower. I guess I think of my situation in more spiritual than medical terms, but I won't knock you for using the Adderall; after all, I may just end up needing it, if I have a real disorder of some type. Maybe I'll just wait for things to get really bad, first.


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