Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Illusion of free choices

An interesting BBC article notes that social media platforms like Facebook are not merely reflecting our preferences but also actively shaping them though "nudge like":
Platforms like Facebook are curating our news and information under catchall headings like “trending topics”, or criteria like “relevance” – but we only rarely get glimpses into how the filtering happens. This is important because subtle changes in the information we are exposed to can transform our behaviour. To understand why, consider an insight from behavioural science that has been widely adopted by governments and other authorities around the world: the policy “nudge”. This is where subtle tactics are used to encourage us to adopt a particular behaviour. One famous example is making organ donation opt-out rather than opt-in. Instead of requiring people to register themselves as organ donors, an opt-out system automatically assumes that anyone’s organs can be used for donation unless they have specified otherwise. Simply by switching the default assumption, more people end up donating.
This raises all sorts of interesting questions. Do news articles trend because they are popular or because they are shown to trend? It is the aged old question of whether the media really reports news or make it. The answer of course is both, which means that the medium is also the message. Technology like newspaper is not neutral. And our choices and preferences far from being completely exogenous are always endogenous.  

Why does all this matter? Because much of the cultural narrative around us is now about autonomous self and the desire to be truly independent. We are told to be "yourself". But we forget that to be yourself requires an objective definition of yourself. You cannot simply look to your preferences and choices as the basis of the true you because your choices and preferences are endogenous. They are influenced by the likes of Facebook. To really know our true self we need to look outside ourselves. We need to look to Him who made us. Only God revealed to us in the person of Jesus knows who we really are.

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2017

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Antidote of Sin

An affection to sin, which cost the Redeemer of the world so dear, would be inconsistent with a sound knowledge and serious study of a crucified Saviour. We should see no charms in sin, which may not be overcome by that ravishing love, which bubbles up in every drop of the Redeemer's blood. Can we with lively thoughts of this, sin against so much tenderness, compassion, grace, and the other perfections of God, which sound so loud in our ears from the cross of Jesus? Shall we consider him hanging there to deliver us from hell, and yet retain any spirit to walk in the way which leads thereto? Shall we consider him upon the cross, unlocking the gates of heaven, and yet turn our backs upon that place he was so desirous to purchase for ire, and give us the possession of? Shall we see him groaning in our place and stead, and dare to tell him, by our unworthy carriage, that we regard him not, and that he might have spared his pains? It must be a miserable soul, worse than brutish, that can walk on in ways of enmity, with a sense of a crucified Christ in his mind. Could we then affect that sin which appears so horrible in the doctrine of the cross? Can we take any pleasure in that which procured so much pain to our best Friend? Can we love that which hath brought a curse, better than him who bore the curse for us? For want of this study of Christ crucified we walk on in sin, as if he suffered to purchase a license for it, rather than the destruction of it. The due consideration of this death would incline our wills to new desires and resolutions. It would stifle that luxury, ambition, worldliness, which harass our souls. We should not dare to rush into any iniquity through the wounds of Christ. We should not, under a sense of his dying groans, cherish that for which he suffered. We should not do the works of darkness under the effusions of his blood, if we did, in a serious posture, set ourselves at the feet of his cross.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK
(Source: A Knowledge of Christ Crucified)

Friday, 1 September 2017

Are you at Bochim?

One word dominated the early days of the Trump administration in the USA. The word is “compromised”. The allegations have been that the Trump campaign may have colluded with the Russians which, if true, means that President Trump, may in some way have been compromised prior to taking power earlier this year. Those who have opposed the American President continue to say he is not fit to be president because of what they see as close dealings with the Russians .

We will never know the truth, but the story is a reminder that faithfulness and integrity is important in every walk of life. Yet, we know that all humans beings are tempted to compromise. We are tempted to bend the rules or tolerate sin for personal advantage. This is the compromise that the Bible often speaks. The accommodation of something that we know is wrong! We see this in the life of Israel in Judges as they settled in the promised land after the death of Joshua. Even from the onset of taking possession of the land, their half-hearted obedience to God has marred their victories:

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Faithful Discipline

The faithful discipline of the LORD. 
A hand, A stick, A knife, A sword. 
Chastising every son adored. 
This be my duty declares the LORD.

Why dost thou fight when reproved by him? 
Thy LORD and thy God dost hate thy sin. 
But treats you as daughters and sons with him.

How long will you be crushed under the weight of sin? 
Go now, go now to his feet, and cry to him. 
He'll surely hear you, delight in him.

His hand is heavy upon my brow, 
But I will go, i will go, 
Let every saint wrestle with him.
Surely the waters will not overtake the one who waits on him.

ALEXANDER JACOBI

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

One Minute Lessons (Lesson 33)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
EPHESIANS 6:10-11

LESSON

We are not as strong as we think we are. Your strength is not enough to withstand the superhuman powers at war with you. We need the strength and might that only Christ provides. Put on the gospel armour!

Friday, 7 July 2017

The Reciprocity of Love

When it comes to love, there is a question that some people have. It goes like this. I know what love is, but why on earth should I bother to love other people at all? As someone has said to me, what have people done for me to deserve their love? It is a valid question. Why should we love others? The world cannot answer that question. Its only response is that we should love because it is good for us. Which is true but if that is all there is then love is pure self-love. The Bible gives us the answer:

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:7-11)

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Resemblance of Love

Last October, there was excitement among royal watchers as Princess Charlotte delighted the crowds in Canada with a rare public appearance. The toddler princess showed off her walking and even some dancing on her first royal engagement during William and Kate’s tour of Canada.


This excited the tabloid media who quickly informed us that the little girl bears a striking resemblance to her great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II. We were treated to photographs of the Queen when she was the same age as Charlotte. One newspaper said Charlotte has a cheeky grin like her great-granny.