Archive for November 7th, 2008

OK, I have a confession to make.  This confession will probably make some of you question my judgement, or possibly even my salvation.  But here goes.  I absolutely love the NPR program This American Life.  I have over 80 episodes on my Ipod, and I’m addicted to it.  I know that the all of the producers, interviewers, and reporters are bleeding-hearts liberals, but I still find the show funny, witty, and overall well-produced.

One episode that keeps on popping into my head as of late is one entitled, A Little Bit of Knowledge.  In the beginning of that episode, the host, Ira Glass has a conversation with Nancy Updike, a producer, about a time when she was in Europe with some of her friends.  She explains it like this:

A couple of years ago some friends were travelling through Europe, walking through these old buildings. And these people do not know anything special about architecture, but, you know how it is when you’re a tourist. So they’re walking through these buildings and they’re looking at these doorways and pillars and they decide that this one building has a very Moorish influence. They’re pointing out details, saying ‘the Moors this’ and ‘the Moors that’. And finally one of them turns to the other and says, “You know, we sound like we’re in a magazine. A magazine called ‘Modern Jackass’.”

So the basic concept behind being a “Modern Jackass” is that you know enough about a subject to talk somewhat intelligently about it, but there are parts that are just beyond your grasp of understanding, so you kind of just make up the rest.  Thus entering “Modern Jackass” territory.

I’ve noticed this quite a bit this past political season.  I think we’re all guilty of it to some extent.  I think the fact that so much information is available at our fingertips through the wonder of Google and Wikipedia just makes it so very easy to make it look like you know more than you do.  So perhaps, we all need to take a step back now that election is over, take a deep breath, and start peeling away the layers of informational defenses we have put up.  In the end, no one really believes us most of time anyway.

I admit that I have done this.  I have been guilty of braying the loudest sometimes.  I have been guilty of caring more about being right than actually showing love to me ideological opponents.  I, sadly, have been a Modern Jackass.

So as we move forward, let’s remember that not everything on the internet is true, and that there’s nothing wrong with saying those three little words – “I don’t know”.

Grace and peace.

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Institutes of the Christian Religion – John Calvin

Whenever we come upon these matters in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts. If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn and reproach the Spirit himself. What then? Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity? Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably? Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labor to our benefit? What shall we say of all the mathematical sciences? Shall we consider them the ravings of madmen? No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how pre-eminent they are. But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God? Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws, and all useful arts. Those men whom scripture [1 Cor. 2:14] calls “natural men” were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things. Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled of its true good. (Emphasis mine.)

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