Book Review: The Wisdom Pyramid, by Brett McCracken
Brett McCracken. The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World. Crossway, 2021. 167 pages.
When I was young, I loved to ride my bike outside. Up and down the street I went, throughout our neighborhood, far away from the troubles and cares of public education. But there was one thing I was never far away from—the sound of my parents voice, beckoning me to come home for dinner.
I heard it and I heeded it.
Far more important than any parent calling in any child for dinner is the call of our God to turn away from a world awash in distraction: “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: ‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?’” (Prov. 1:20–22). God has given us wisdom in his Word and he is calling us to pay attention.
Moreover, in addition to his Word, God has given us faithful brothers and sisters who write wise books that point us to wise living. One such book is The Wisdom Pyramid by Brett McCracken.
WISE INFORMATION INTAKE
Based on the popular food pyramid, which categorizes what we should eat into various quadrants, The Wisdom Pyramid recommends a plan for information intake for which our future selves will thank us if we will listen.
McCracken is burdened for the church in our unwise, entertainment-obsessed age. Far from drinking deeply from the wells of wisdom, all too often Christians immerse themselves in the same soul-shrinking habits, mind-polluting rhythms, and heart-numbing activities that are part of the world’s playbook. In the face of our culture of excess of information and personal autonomy, where are we to look for a wise way to live? Where would Lady Wisdom call us to turn?
After uncovering the sources of our societal sickness in the opening chapters, McCracken invites his readers to root our time, attention, and habits in the sources of eternal wisdom laid out by God in His Word. These “ancient paths” (Jeremiah 6:16) are where we will find “rest for our souls.” But we must “walk in it.”
ORDERING OUR LIVES TOWARD WISDOM
The sources of wisdom include the Bible, the Church, Nature, Books, Beauty, and the Internet and Social Media. However, the prescription in The Wisdom Pyramid is the order of importance and degree of influence each of these sources have in our lives.
Are you as convicted as I am when your phone gives you a report how much screen time you had each week? If this is the case, and it is for me, you need to read The Wisdom Pyramid.
McCracken says, “Our sources of intake are vitally important. 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.” (66). And that’s what this book is about: offering us a proposal for how we might orient our lives toward wisdom.
What if social media and the internet got the least of our energies? What if we built our lives around daily and weekly habits of digging into Scripture and gathering with the church? What if the enjoyment of nature took on a more central role in our recreation? What if we read 5 older books for every one newer one? My hunch: we would be wiser.
Pastors, your church needs this book. Parents, your teenagers need this book. We all need this book. In an age increasingly unmooring itself from the well-worn roads of biblical reality, we need to be led again to the green pastures and still waters of God’s wisdom. This book will help lead you there.
Less of a “how-to” guide (although filled with much practical application), The Wisdom Pyramid is more of “why-this” guide: it invites us into the life we were made to live as image-bearers of our God, into patterns of consumption that lead to human flourishing and rest for our weary souls.