Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 84; 148, Judges 9:1-16, 19-21, Acts 4:13-31, John 2:1-12
Many cultural commentators bemoan the rise of anti-intellectualism in America. While they do raise legitimate concerns, is it possible the underlying problem is not simply that some people distrust higher education and ignore science, but that we succumb to increasing pressure from media, political, and other forces to define ourselves in ever-widening opposition to each other? Once the idea of academic education became strongly associated with liberal values, many conservatives distanced themselves from it and many liberals began to address social conservatism as a cognitive deficit. Yet both the conservative and liberal movements contain intellectual powerhouses as well as people all across the intelligence scale; people of deep integrity and utter con artists; altruists and narcissists. Whether or not one has had the opportunity to choose specific forms of education is no indicator of morality or intelligence.
Of course this isn’t a new phenomenon. When Peter and John taught boldly in the public square, the rulers and elders of Jerusalem were astonished that “they were unschooled, ordinary men.” They were however fishermen, and successful fishermen had business savvy, an understanding of the elements, fluency in two or more languages, and various other knowledge that high priests may not have recognized or valued; moreover, they had qualities that Jesus valued. Because of their first-hand experience as disciples, Peter and John had wisdom to share with the people, and its truth trumped any class structure.
We need people with an education; specifically we need educated people who recognize their knowledge is not a weapon of class warfare, but a tool for service. We also need people whose knowledge and wisdom is grounded in something other than academia; people who have expertise in common sense – and enough common sense not to vilify or ridicule an academic education. Most of all we need people of all stripes who seek and appreciate the wisdom of people different from themselves.
Christ welcomes the noble and the peasant, the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor. He teaches us God values and loves each of God’s children equally. He invites us to do the same.
Comfort: You are not defined by what others have.
Challenge: Pick a topic that you don’t know much about (and even better one that intimidates you a little) and talk to someone who is knowledgeable about it.
Prayer: God of Wisdom, teach me to see the diversity of your gifts in all people. Amen.
Discussion: When have you learned something from an unexpected source?
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