The Wisdom Pyramid – Brett McCracken

Brett McCracken, The Wisdom Pyramid (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2021), 188 pp.

The rise of social media and the internet is slowly chipping away at the evangelical mind. A subtle erosion has set in and rendered people incapable of thinking Christianly. In the end, this tragic turn of events has led many to jettison the path of wisdom.

Brett McCracken address this epistemological shift in his book, The Wisdom Pyramid. The author passionately argues that “we need a better diet of knowledge ad better habits of information intake.” The ultimate aim of the book is to present a strategy for developing wisdom. McCracken anchors the purpose of the book in the mind of his readers:

It’s a plan for stabilizing a sick society by making Christians wiser: God-fearing, trustworthy truth-tellers and truth-livers. Salt and light. This is what we are called to be. This is what the world desperately needs us to be.

Part one examines the sources of our sickness. Nothing is surprising here but the accumulated evidence that is presented is overwhelming. A nod of approval is given to Neil Postman’s classic work, Amusing Ourselves to Death. While originally penned in 1985, Postman’s thesis is proven to be accurate is most people in the west are drowning in a sea of information and have nothing to show for it. Tribalism and triviality reign – and the effects on culture are troubling.

The author presents a cogent case for our changing brains. This thesis, popularized by Nicholas Carr in his seminal work, The Shallows demonstrates how our minds are being manipulated by media and hardwired by a plethora of digital distractions. McCracken rightly notes, “We are digital wanderers, and this is a dangerous thing to be.” Even worse, very few seem to care.

Part two examines various sources of truth that lead to a life of wisdom. “Our sources of intake are vitally important,” writes the author. He continues, “They can make us healthy, or they can make us sick. Bad intake can make us unwise. Good intake – from trustworthy sources of truth – can make us wise, inoculating us against viruses of deception and error.”

Six sources are presented that offer sources of wisdom – Scripture, the church, nature, books, beauty, and the internet. Scripture is placed at the bottom of the pyramid and utilizes the well-known “Food Pyramid,” which was first introduced by the US Department of Agriculture in 1992. In this model, Scripture must be the basis of one’s diet in order for healthy growth to occur. But the other areas are not minimized. Rather, they are placed in their proper order. The purpose of this placement is the accumulation of wisdom which is defined as, “knowing what to do with knowledge gained through various means of education: how to apply knowledge and information in everyday life; how to discern if something is true or not; how to live well in light of truth gained.”

The Wisdom Pyramid is a helpful book are is sure to help many people, especially young people who are trapped in the quagmire of digital/social media. It is a solid antidote for Christians who seek wisdom in a culture of quick answers and digital “fast food.” McCracken draws deep into the wells of Christian theology and invites readers, in the end, to taste and see that the Lord is good.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

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