Saturday, March 31, 2007

Multitasking slows you down

An October 2001 study reported in the "Journal of Experimental Psychology" informs us that the brain takes extra time "switching gears" when we switch tasks.
"The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at once."
Samuel Smiles
A recent broadcast on National Public Radio discussed University of Michigan research that found it takes people longer to accomplish a series of tasks if they multitask than if they do them one at a time. Multitasking slows you down. Many (most?) people believe that multitasking is faster, but in reality it is not.

In addition, humans we remember and learn differently when we multitask.
"To do two things at once is to do neither."
– Roman sage Publilius Syrus
Microsoft suggests several problems with multitasking. Among them:
  • Interruptions break user concentration and thus hurt longer-term tasks. Why? Users often can't tell which interruptions need to be handled right away, making it hard to maintain current task flow.
  • To successfully complete tasks, you need to know when to stop a current task and return to one you have on hold. Researchers have found that people often pause tasks while waiting for some outside event, for example an expected email or phone call. They then wanted to resume the original task as immediately after the interrupting event. But ...
  • People have trouble getting back on task after shifting their attention away."

Multitasking problems have even crept into churches. For example, one pastor had a habit of shouting over the last hymn as we closed the worship service. But paying attention to his words meant paying less attention to (or stumbling over) the words of the hymn. If a hymn is important enough to sing, it is important enough to concentrate on. We should pay more attention to the words (text message) of hymns, not less (but that's another topic).

Even church staff members need to focus on one task at a time as much as possible. Acting against that goal are an always-open email program or email notifier, an open instant messenger (IM), constant visitors, phone calls, etc. So Pastors and church managers, help your church staff focus. Seek to lessen interruptions to their tasks and they'll get more done in the same amount of time. They'll also appreciate the reduced stress.

Lent and Passover

Before Lent heads into the final week, you may want to read "Muskrat love." No, it's not the song. It's a Catholic Online article about Michiganders who abstain from meat on Fridays yet have a tradition of eating muskrat on Fridays (and why).

You may want to bone up on Holy Week and Passover...

Friday, March 30, 2007

PBS airs pioneer evangelist story

A conservative Protestant evangelist who knew how to pull in people and win souls. Pastor of one of America's first megachurches. Pioneer of Christian radio. Divorced at a time when divorce was a stigma (a topic for another day).

Canadian farm girl Aimee Semple McPherson (Sister Aimee) mixed religion and entertainment like nobody before her.

You can watch the PBS program on Sister Aimee Monday, April 2, at 9pm.

Other links:

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Health articles, healthy recipes

We are to be good stewards of our God-given bodies -- of our health. Here are some links to health-related articles:

Evil incarnate

A book review of "Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Satanic Abuse in History" brought to mind religious and political actions in the past decade. Author David Frankfurter says that historically, the real atrocities seem to occur during attempts to purge what one group claims is evil. (Also see the UNH Magazine Review)

The extreme accusations and labelling of political candidates in recent years seems to fall into this category. Political strategists appear to actively promote wild hyperbole presented as fact. Using religious slander seems to be an increasing trend. The motto appears to be, "If you repeat a lie enough times to enough people, it will affect their opinion of the candidate and thus the outcome of an election."

I find that morally repugnant. Politicians who treat the American people as ignorant dummies that can be led by the nose at will are spiritually bankrupt. Yet we continue to adopt and, worse, repeat their false mantras and we elect them. Perhaps we deserve the results we get.

I imagine it's quite hard for an honest, moral politician to stay that way when broadsided by those of "the dark side". The temptation to adopt evil, immoral tactics because they work must be tremendous. But wouldn't it be nice if politicians just lived their religion instead of trying to (mis)use it during campaigns and while in office? Don't quote Bible passages in speeches; live them. Don't tell me how moral you are. Show me.

As we head into the next election season, be on watch for evil at work, whether the candidate is "yours" or not. Consider not encouraging such behavior in our politicians. Check supposed "facts" before you repeat them. Let "your" candidate and party know that you won't accept morally bankrupt behavior. Don't help do the Devil's work.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Religious music online

I am very sense-oriented. Food, music, movies, ... I enjoy our God-given senses. I find that Christian music can elevate my mood during my long daily commute. It helps put me in a positive frame of mind. It makes me a better person that day.

So I'm especially pleased when I find sources of religious music, especially Christian music, online. I often preview music online for possible choir or quartet use. These uplifting offerings take many forms and styles.

Some disparage certain styles of music when used in worship or even as just a religious song in general. But we must remember that Paul didn't hesitate to adapt the message to whatever group he was addressing. So it should be with Christian music. There is no one "right" style. The message is what counts! Here are a few sample sites to get you started on a wonderful journey in song. Some may be an unexpected pleasure.

  • Streaming audio of anthems at publishers such as Shawnee Press.
    Example: "Burdens are lifted at Calvary" (Patti Drennan)
  • Samples of commercial CDs.
    Example: 1-minute samples from the "Jesus is Lord" CD (Dallas Christian Sound). After finding this site, I now plan to order this CD of 31 songs. The teaser 1-minute samples worked.
  • Free praise songs and sheet music
    Example 1: "All of my love" by Elton Smith and Larry Holder. The score is also downloadable.
    Example 2: "Your love is sweeter than wine" by Susan Tolle-Knight. This includes a Flash movie with music. I really love this sweet and lyrical song. And the Flash graphics (with words) are truly excellent.
  • Instrumentals. The choices range from traditional to techno. Example: "Awesome God" by Faith Incisive - it's not the default song on that page, so just click on the title link.
  • Joyous accidental finds.
    Example: "Thank you, dear Lord for music" (an MP3 download) at the national S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A (Barbershoppers) site.
    Free downloadable sheet music (PDF).
  • International Christian songs.
    Example 1: some Christian Tamil songs
    Example 2: "Baba Yetu" (Swahili Lord's Prayer) (download the MP3, then play) -- incredible!
    Eaxmple 3: Songs at the GBGM's Global Praise site. The CD collection (and music clips) include songs from Africa and Carribbean, Spirituals, and more.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

News Roundup

News features


Islamic artists, math nerds, and tiles

It seems that ancient Islamic artists were much more talented than many thought. And it looks like math nerds helped them in creating very complex, non-repeating tile designs.

Read the full Islamic art article at USA Today