Category Archives: Wisdom and Foolishness

The straight and narrow

I wish that many of the conversations I have had ended up as my blog posts. But when I try to translate these conversations they tend to fall flat. As Merleau-Ponty observes good conversation creates a shared space between the participants, such that things spoken that make profound sense in that space may only make ordinary sense if not well translated to another space. Still, sometimes statements or realizations will transcend the space of shared conversation and carry similar weightiness in different situations. Such is the case, I claim, for the conclusion to a recent conversation provided my my fellow blogger Joel Peters:

“The easiest way to stay on the straight and narrow is to never ask what the straight or narrow is.”

An observation particularly to be heeded, perhaps, during an election campaign (which we are in the midst of in Canada) when easily offered straight and narrow ideologies are rampant.

Harry Huebner on being the the church in the world

I have now finished Harry Huebner’s Echoes of the Word. I enjoyed going through it in a relatively short time frame, and I hope readers appreciated the glances I provided into this reading.

Before I post a final quotation I’d like to draw attention to the two chapters I most enjoyed. What sets these essays apart for me is their tremendous practical wisdom combined with rich theological insight. That is, not only did these essays provoke my thinking, but I have high hopes that they will help me to become a better person – this without being trite or reductionist. Continue reading Harry Huebner on being the the church in the world

Pascal on greatness and vanity

I’m currently working on some further thoughts on genius, in response to Lisa and Joel. It will probably be a few days yet, as I’m currently scrambling to complete grad school applications by their Feb. 1 deadlines. So, for now, here’s a great quip from Pascal that speaks nicely to some of the problems with pursuing genius – at least, to the extent that our conceptions of genius are linked to an achievement of glory. Enough of me. Here’s Pascal.

“That something so obvious as the vanity of the world should be so little recognized that people find it odd and surprising to be told that it is foolish to seek greatness; that is most remarkable.”

Some Wise Books: A List where the order matters

Some of the most intriguing and unsettling conversations I have reside in some of the books I read. These texts keep coming back to me time and time again, their images cemented into present contexts, drawing me into new and different ways of engaging in current conversations. I think this speaks to a kind of wisdom spun through these books.

I am in a second-year undergraduate level course on the wisdom literature in Christian traditions and we are focusing, mostly, on the books of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes. Using some of the lectures and course material, and dependent on the past 5+ years of theological and philosophical undergraduate learnings at a Mennonite university, I’ve written a brief something as to how wisdom can be made sense of: wisdom can be made sense of as the way creatures adhere to and live into their limitations. Learning what these limitations are and how they press themselves o/into our being depends on, at least, two not-mutually-exclusive spaces outside the creature’s self: 1) an imposed terror of something or someone far greater in Being than the creature herself; and 2) a curiosity that pulls the creature into a constant state of inquiry. One way that a creature can lean into this curiosity is by trying to ask “where am I coming from?” and seeking out the limitations that this questions runs up against.

Here is a list of the ten books I have read in the last five years that most appropriately seek out this question “where am I coming from?” After each book’s title I briefly describe how that text asks this question. The list ascends in the order of which books are closer to the asking of this question. So, the last book listed is the one which I think most appropriately seeks to ask this question “where am I coming from?”

Continue reading Some Wise Books: A List where the order matters

The Selfie Moment

It’s an odd feeling I get when I see people taking selfies, especially outside. It’s like they are logging into another reality. One that is truer, more permanent, and full of potential. Truer because I can quantify my popularity, through likes, or tweets. Permanent because a photo is much like a frozen moment in time. Potential because this photo may reach millions and become viral. The combination of these three things results in an intensification of the selfie moment in reality. An event may have just taken place that others may also participate in.

It’s strange. It’s as if people are living their lives and making decisions based on how the internet will receive their performance.