It’s very nearly fall-like here in my slice of the Inland Pacific Northwest. For three days now I’ve worn sweatshirts or flannels and socks. I’m not complaining. Nor am I complaining about my dogs, who love to run and play, curling up in doggy donuts next to me, recharging for the next round of zoomies.
Kate says: teach.
My third year of seminary begins on Monday. That’s a weird thing to type. I’m a little over halfway through a Master’s program. (Of course, I can’t get too comfortable, as thoughts of a PhD, most likely in pastoral care and psychology, nip at the back of my mind. I do love school). Given the resurgence of the anti-intellectual strain that has been and is ever-present in my culture – the prideful reveling in ignorance and the disregard of the words, experience, and training of experts – I’m regularly tempted toward feeling a sense of shame over my education. I don’t want to talk about it too much. At least, I don’t want to talk about it too much with those who are quick to pooh-pooh learning.
Yes, you read a sharpness in my words here. It’s the sharpness of lament. The salty sting of tears on my tongue. The bewildering sense of being unable to understand what is happening around me.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
– Proverbs 1:7 (NRSV, emphasis mine)
We are foolish when we refuse to be taught.
I’ll be the first to say that the educational system of my culture is not set up for everyone to succeed. People learn differently, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the point is to learn. To keep learning. To read and to think and to wrestle. To seek out those who teach – those who know, those who have wisdom. For any of us to think that we know more and better than someone who has dedicated years of their lives to study and training is the height of arrogance. I may be halfway through an MDiv, and am so able to use, to an extent, a common language with my professors, but it would be ridiculous for me to think that I know as much as they do.
Where, I wonder, is our humility? Our desire to grow and explore and learn? When and how and why did we become so locked into the rigidity that comes with blind, stubborn pride?