Thursday, July 05, 2007

pride and education

The Amish and the Mennonites are at times characterized according to their history as humble and simple folk, who during the radical reformation despite the fact that they were humble, simple unlearned peasants, spoke truth and meaning into the life of faith with surprising courage and confidence. Well, it was big enough to warrant the attention of even the highest officials of the establishment. This history follows us. I sometimes feel like I’m climbing a steep hill in keeping up with the rest of theological academia and their core interests, while maintaining the legitimacy of my own and tying it into the core of the mainstream. Yet the objective remains, establishing relevance and engaging folks toward transformation and kingdom living.

Recently, I was reminded of a former internal perspective that us simple folk have in associating higher education with pride. Granted the actuality is likely common, however, with a degree or two under my belt, I see things quite differently. Somehow I seem to have lost the pride perspective somewhere along the way and gained the realization of how little one really knows when he/she becomes “educated.” Instead, I see learning as an opportunity to interact with people both living and those who have died, leaving their thoughts and legacy behind in volumes upon a shelf. As I describe it in this way, I get this picture of bookish people sitting in a circle, in a dusty dank library, discussing ideas with the living and the dead and the not-yet-born. The dead are represented by an empty chair with a book lying open on it, while the shadowy ghostlike figure of its author hovers over and slightly behind it. People discuss his writings and his contribution and his intended meaning. Occasionally, the discussion causes the ghostly figure to wince a bit. The not-yet-born are represented by a formless white blot hovering over a chair. Few dialogue with it. Although I could imagine a said futurist deeply engaged in a private conversation with the white blot, while others ignore the oddity. Hopefully the circle breaks on occasion and these alive bookish folks dust themselves off a bit and venture into the outdoors to influence and change a few things.

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