Sunday, June 21, 2020

Notes from "The Common Rule" by Justin Whitmel Earley


Note: The Common Rule
Genre: Productivity/Christian Living
Date: 6-19-20
Author: Justin Whitmel Earley



Resources, Citations, Quotes, Sources


Key Points
  1. Don’t let your creed say you are at peace, when your life clearly reads that you are racing to gain approval 
  2. Habits
    1. Habits are liturgies: bad ones are liturgies of wrong belief, good ones, liturgies of right belief
    1. Waking up exhausted because you stayed up late: “I am infinite! I am a god!"
  3. True freedom is being free to do what we were made to do, not being free from all limitations
  4. Jesus surrendered freedom, unlike Adam–victory through surrender
  5. “Rule” as Regula–something to bring order to a growing plant. Analogy to a trellis guiding the plant so it doesn’t grow sideways or choke out the other plants
  6. The Habits
    1. 8 habits, 4 daily, 4 weekly. 
    2. Daily:
      1. Kneeling prayer morning, midday, and evening
      2. One meal with others
      3. One hour with phone off
      4. Scripture before phone
    3. Weekly:
      1. One hour of conversation with a friend
      2. Curate media to four hours
      3. Fast from something for 24 hours
      4. Sabbath
    4. These habits are focused on love of God and love of neighbor, not merely self-improvement
  7. Daily habit 1: Kneeling prayer 3x 
    1. Two kinds: stating what is and asking for something
      1. Naming reality: “God, you are loving."
      2. Asking: “God, hold this widow as she grieves.” “Keep me from temptation"
    2. Phone notifications are the prayer we say each morning–the first thing we interact with
      1. Cut out notifications by setting your phone to “do not disturb"
      2. Pray again at midday because you need it!
      3. Pray in the evening because you are exhausted
      4. Tips: use written prayers, kneel, set alarms on your phone
  8. Daily habit 2: One Meal with others
    1. The American friend who is so rational he doesn’t like eating-ME
    2. Because we are focused on other things, meals don’t fit into the paradigm. Time to switch that around. Let work fit into the paradigm of meals 
    3. We aren’t machines–eating shouldn’t be like getting gas–throwing something in the machine so it will go–chips, popcorn, soda, etc. we are dependent and communal beings
    4. The need to eat
      1. Reveals our dependance on God
      2. One another
      3. creation
    5. End the day with a meal as an anchor for your family-make the dining room table the centerpiece of the home
  9. Daily Habit 3: One hour with phone off
    1. Multi-tasking is NOT A THING. Being in several places means you are nowhere. 
    2. Story of Scripture as a story of presence, or lack thereof, of God
    3. When you fracture your presence, you destroy it, rather than multiplying it. 
    4. Turning off your phone helps you be 100% there for someone, like your kids–who know when you aren’t paying attention to them!
    5. Turn it off when you get home for the day
    6. When you give your children your full attention, you are being more like your Heavenly Father, who always give His children his full attention and love
    7. Turn it off at work, and experience flow. We turn what should take hours into days because we are distracted. 
    8. Tips: Limit notifications, place your phone far away from you
  10.  Daily Habit 4: Scripture before phone
    1. The habit of checking email first thing in the morning emphasizes the need to be respected by others
    2. Turn to What the Bible says about the world before turning to what others say about it
    3. Journaling
  11. Weekly Habit 1: One Hour of Conversation With a Friend
    1. Story about finding out a close friend was addicted to prescriptions–we need to talk to each other to be known and know how our lives are going–otherwise we can fall apart in front of each other
    2. Only one time in the creation story when God says “not good”–when man is alone
    3. Be honest with people–cultivate good friendships-expose the evil by admitting to it. 
    4. Tips:
      1. Set up a standing meeting with friend when you always get together 
  12. Weekly habit #2: Curate media to four hours 
    1. We become the stories we consume. Garbage in, garbage out
    2. Stories are how we formulate an idea of what the good life is–be intentional about picking them
    3. Curate for beauty–the eyes were made to behold beautiful things
    4. Curate for justice
    5. Curate for community-try to make the media you intake be with others 
    6. Tips:
      1. Track your media intake time
      2. Make great lists 
  13. Weekly Habit #3: Fast from something for 24 hours
    1. Fasting reminds you of the fall, and helps you rely on God
    2. Fasting reveals who you really are, when you aren’t coping with food
    3. Tips:
      1. Do it together
      2. Pick something to fast from: all food, or maybe alcohol, sugar, meat, etc. 
      3. Work towards longer fasts
  14. Weekly Habit 4: Sabbath
    1. Author tried to hack productivity: intermittent sleeping, memory palace, etc. 
    2. Resting is acknowledging that we are not machines, and have limits. 
    3. Positive resting–cultivating restful activities like reading, sex, sleeping, eating, walking
    4. Marking the time with a ceremony–like a candle
    5. Tips: Pick three things you want to do and three things to avoid
    6. Studies show that productivity drops off steeply at 50 hours/week. 
  15. Living with Failure 
    1. Failure is where we live, because we are broken. 
    2. Beauty can stem from limitations 
    3. This guy is basically me–see page 166 and 190 



Critique
  • “Felt God telling me.” Ugh. 
  • “Jesus, for our sake, became limited and the world was saved.” Don’t know about this one. 
  • Asserts that our way of life is tied to the "contours of American life" but doesn’t explain what that is
  • The comparison of God to Jackson Pollock fell flat on its face–God creating something is NOT like the random drivel Pollock makes. Completely misses the point of art. p. 39
  • Mentioned journaling as something that will “change your life” but spends about 3 sentences on it. (p. 94)
  • n explaining friendship, he talks about the necessity of making friendships nonexclusive…which is stupid, since a friendship necessitates that you exclude all others who aren’t your friends… (p. 106-107)
  • Recommends the spiritual friendship book by Wesley Hill ewwwwww
  • P121-says that the only way for Christians to curate justice is to see it through the eyes of diversity–black people. 
  •  In the chapter about fasting, he illustrates the “Two America’s” in his neighborhood and the hood down the street–then asserts that those living there aren’t heard because the tapestry of justice is agains them…no data for that assertion. 
  • Does a great job bringing back these habits to the fundamental concepts behind them–he is deeper than many books of this genre. For instance, reminding us that we work “to be like God” 
  • Much of his advice stems from the tyranny of the urgent imposed on us by our smartphones. Smartphones are one root of this evil


Actions
[]Program my iPhone to “do not disturb” from bed to after I wake up

[]Review in a week using these notes and the chapter summaries in the book itself
[]Plug these habits into my task manager, via Challies
[]

Summary of Notes
  • We are fallen, and we cultivate habits automatically. This means we will fall/drift into bad habits
  • We need to cultivate daily and weekly habits designed to love and serve others by abstaining from or embracing something
  • These are summarized in the Disciplines of: Scripture, Prayer, fasting, fellowship, and rest.



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