Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 20, 2013

ED VASICEK: It's getting colder; start a new book

Here are 3 titles you might want to try

Kokomo Tribune

---- — I am one of those guys who welcomes the cool weather. My friends who love the warm weather save their spoiled tomatoes to throw at my picture, so if you are a hot weather lover, have at it. But read the column first, please!

I have always considered fall and winter great times to read. Although I read in spurts, I usually read several books at a time. So today, I am going to share three varied books I am or have been reading.

I am in the middle of a book titled, “Thinking Fast and Slow,” by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, former professor of psychology at Princeton. Kahneman proposes that we experience two levels of thinking: an instinctive, quick processing that takes little effort (thinking fast, system 1) and a more contemplative, analytical form of thinking (thinking slow, system 2). He cites experiments and studies that demonstrate we crave ease by nature and try to avoid slow thinking because of the effort it requires. The author concludes bluntly, “Laziness is built deep into our nature.”

Those who by nature or discipline are willing to think more deeply (system 2) are not necessarily smarter, but they are wiser. Kahneman supports the idea that, “rationality should be distinguished from intelligence ... superficial or ‘lazy’ thinking is a flaw in the reflective mind, a failure of rationality.”

As I was reading this, I began to wonder about both autism and attention deficit disorder. Could it be that those who experience attention deficit are even more resistant to engage in systems 2 (slow) thinking, and could it be that some on the autism spectrum are weak in the system 1 (quick intuitive) thinking department? Anyhow, if you are looking to better understand how you and others think and make decisions, you should find this a stimulating read.

My friend, Jonathan Skye, is the author of three (and soon four) books in the “Flurry the Bear” series. I have read the first three, and I highly recommend them for children ages 8-12. The stories are packed with adventure and scads of humor, yet they teach important lessons about life. Although secular in nature, they are faith-friendly.

I suggest you have your child begin with the second in the series, “Flurry the Bear and the Land of the Sourpie.” The book has a great moral lesson many parents will appreciate: “Love and get along with your siblings. Your family matters.” The story also addresses reconciliation and forgiveness.

What is the plot? Through a misunderstanding, Flurry believes a map he discovers, leading to the “Sourpie,” will direct him into a land of pies — sour ones and sweet ones. He later discovers that the “Sourpie” are a group of grouchy cats, bitter toward the nearby kingdom from which they originated. In the end, they are reconciled through forgiveness. More information is available at flurrythebear.com; the book can be ordered through Amazon.

A third book I am reading is especially geared toward Christians and titled, “Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working” by Craig Groeschel. The author’s premise is that American society has become so dysfunctional that “normal” is no longer a good thing. Normal people have no time, do not rest enough, run up large debts, fail in their family lives, and have moved far from Judeo-Christian morals.

“Normal people do normal things at a normal — breakneck — pace and never have enough time to do the most important things ...”

His family chose an alternate path: “... we decided to become weird.... We limited the use of technology to only three days a week ... we rediscovered board games — Monopoly, Sorry, even checkers. We played charades, told stories, and ... read books ... we have epic wrestling matches that rival anything Wii has to offer ... and a lot of laughter.” Although written from an evangelical perspective, most folks with family values will appreciate this refreshing and insightful book. Have a great day — and don’t forget to read!

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@gmail.com.