In extemporaneous speaking, the judges assigned you a randomly selected topic related to a current event and you had about 10-15 minutes to prepare a speech. Good extemporaneous speakers were already well-prepared. Their research of current events was thorough and they had numerous well-labeled and organized files from which they could quickly glean the salient points of a topic for their speech.
My files were rarely well-labeled and never organized. I don't remember how I did in these tournaments, which makes me assume I probably did rather poorly. I tend to remember my successes.
The need to be well-read and up-to-date on the issues, however, is still important for me. Some of you have asked me what I do to stay informed. Let me answer that question, but first consider one of the reasons why we should be well-informed.
Between Two Worlds
In Between Two Worlds, John Stott exhorts pastors to know not only the world of the Biblical text but also the world in which their audience lives.
It is because preaching is not exposition only but communication, not just the exegesis of a text but the conveying of a God-given message to living people who need to hear it, that I am going to develop a different metaphor to illustrate the essential nature of preaching. . . . The metaphor is that of bridge-building.To build the bridge requires exposition of the contemporary world:
I take it for granted that, in addition to careful listening, we shall read a daily or weekly newspaper (for many years now I have found a thorough reading of a weekly much more profitable than the cursory scanning of a daily), watch some television, and peruse the secular book reviews in order to discover the most influential contemporary books to get and read.Stott wrote these words before the digital age in which we now found ourselves. The principle is still sound, though the implementation has changed. I encourage believers to continue to be exegetes of their culture.
A Tool for Exegeting Our Culture
Disclaimer: the rest of this post kinda sounds like a commercial. I am not receiving money for any products or websites mentioned, though I would be perfectly willing to do so.
In the digital age, I think it is ironically more difficult to stay informed. Many media outlets, be it print, radio, or internet, give superficial treatment to news stories.
There are many tools that are useful to help us be better informed. One of the ones that I recently found is an app called "Feedly." It is currently marketed as a replacement for Google Reader. I never used Google Reader, but I read a review of the app and decided to check it out.
I really, really like it.
You add any website, blog, or news site into Feedly and it organizes the stories for you. There were so many websites I would visit and numerous individual apps I used to visit them on my iPad or iPhone that it was a little daunting. Feedly allows me to see all the stories and articles together from various sites, then I decide which ones to read. It keeps stories organized by categories and allows you to remove stories once you've read them.
What have I personally put into my Feedly? I have the feeds from Real Clear Politics, Real Clear Religion, Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Drudge Report, CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and various other blogs, including, of course, God Centered Christian.
Any other suggestions for staying informed? Any suggestions of sites to include in a Feedly?