Wednesday, June 29

Just when you think you know something

I'm reading a book by the renowned Quaker theologian Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, and no that is not a joke coming from one of the most undisciplined people in the whole wide world.

In college it sometimes seems a lot of a professor's work goes into convincing her students they are smarter than they think, and their opinions have value. At some point, though—I would suggest around age 20, when Grown-Ups really do start to listen to what you're saying—we must put on the brakes and remember that moxie only takes you so far; to stay smart you must continually learn and also quit thinking your'e so smart after all.

Foster makes a strong distinction between the gathering of information and the accumulation of knowledge. He also counsels that the discipline of Study is more than book learning.
If we will observe relationsihps that go on between human beings, we will receive a graduate-level education. Watch, for example, how much of our speech is aimed at justifying our actions. We find it almost impossible to act and allow the act to speak for itself. No, we must explain it, justify it, demonstrate the rightness of it.
He singles out writers among those people most prone to this compulsion, people, he says "who earn their living by being good with words." Zoinks.

It's difficult for someone like me—naturally prone and academically trained to make my statement then present the evidence—to allow the act to speak for itself. The companion compulsion is to self-diagnose, then spend a good amount of time wallowing. I am GREAT at that.
In doing all this we are not trying to be amateur psychologists or sociologists. [Editor's note: That really stinks, because I've basically made a second career out of being an amateur expert on psychology (especially canine), sociology and even medicine as the need arises.] Nor are we obsessed with excessive introspection. [Editor's note: Throw me a bone, here, man!] We study these matters with a spirit of humility, needing a large dose of grace. We want only to follow the dictum of Socrates: 'Know thyself.'

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