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Posts from the President Vol 3

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman discusses two ways we think. Fast thinking is off the cuff, immediate thoughts based on the situations of life. Slow thinking is more deliberate, a weighing of the evidence with the big picture in view. At one point he says people of faith think fast and use their slow thinking to bolster their faith claims. This is because it is too difficult to change our foundational beliefs. It is easier to support them. Kahneman says the same thing about optimists.

I am an optimist. That is why I was a pastor, why I teach, and why I took on the role of President at Providence. I believe the things we do can actually change the way things are in the world and in the church. The educational enterprise is for optimists. But when I think slowly, I find that there are lots of reasons to be a pessimist, to give up on faith. The older I get the more I realize the perils of living in this world. I watch other people suffer physically, mentally, and emotionally. I suffer some of the same. I can’t run like I used to, I don’t sleep as well, I now have grandkids as well as kids to think about. The possibility of troubles multiply as I get older. I have every reason to be a pessimist.

So why do I continue to be an optimist? How can a President face life head on? One day Jesus and his disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. A storm arose and the boat was being swamped. Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat. The disciples woke him and said, “Don’t you care that we are about to drown?” Jesus spoke to the sea and the wind and everything became calm. “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were awestruck.

I am an optimist because Jesus is in the boat with me. He never promises that there won’t be storms in life. But the one who has power over the raging sea is in my boat and he cares about me. Although there are many reasons to be afraid or to be a pessimist, I can continue to be optimistic because of Jesus.

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