"...satisfied with ignorance..."
"When an educated person hears something that shows insight, it stimulates his mind and leads him on to other ideas.
But when someone who is satisfied with ignorance hears it, he won't like it, and will forget it as soon as he can." (Sirach 21:15) (A book in the Apocrypha of the Old Testament.
Last week on our way across the state to do another talk on "teen depression" Patti and I stopped at a park along the route to stretch our legs with a brief hike. Meandering through the woods we came upon this little critter and shared some space with it for a few moments. It fluttered amongst the shadows seeking the warmth of sunlight piercing through the forest's canopy. When it found the light it would pause for a few moments and spread its wings to take in heaven's gift. Now here's the point. I'm confessing my ignorance. I keep calling it an "it" because I don't know what "it" is. I'm not sure if it's a moth or a butterfly. However, I'm not satisfied with my ignorance. I'm counting on someone receiving this posting and letting me know what we followed on that beautiful day in the woods last week.
What would it be like to be, "satisfied with ignorance," as the writer of Sirach mentions? Is that anything like being closed-minded, blocking out any new information that might cause one to have to consider other possibilities than the one with which they comfortably live? I think I know some folks who are comfortable with ignorance. As a matter of fact I think I know some Christians who are comfortable with ignorance.
When we are children we are taught the foundations of our faith through stories and lessons that are designed for younger hearts and minds. The stories are offered in very concrete, uncomplicated forms so that young minds can grasp the basics necessary for growing in their faith. However, too often the "growing" part is ignored as young minds become older minds. I'm convinced that adults who ignore the need to grow in their faith with prayer, study, fellowship, and service grow instead into ignorance. (Isn't it interesting that "ignore" is a root for "ignorance?")
Adults try to tackle the complications of life replete with suffering and unanswerable questions with a faith informed only by the stories of our childhood. Don't get me wrong - those stories are important and form an invaluable base. However, those stories without further study, dialogue, and wrestling can lead to an ignorant adult. This kind of adult is so intent upon protecting him or her self that they risk trampling on others. Their fear of new information or a different perspective and the challenge to change it might engender causes them to be satisfied with their ignorance.
We live in a world today that constantly gives birth to new ethical dilemmas never before even imagined. How can an ignorant faith speak to such situations and guide us toward the hope for love and life that God offers? We need an informed faith - a faith informed by prayer and study. We need a faith informed by listening to the life stories of one another that are replete with complications, joy, and suffering. We need a faith to help us resist any urge to become satisfied with ignorance.
I pray that God will always give me the courage to listen, to ask, to learn, and to respond. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
PS -- Someone please remember to contact me with the identity of the little critter in the photo. I'm not satisfied with ignorance.
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"...satisfied with ignorance..."