Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Information, Wisdom, and the Difference Between the Two

Tree, in my back yard

I look to the media for information, not wisdom. I cannot think of one news reader (CNN, Fox News, etc.) I would look to for wisdom. 

I turn off the TV when a journalist goes outside the bounds of raw reporting and puts their spin, their interpretation, on events. Or, when a journalist pontificates ex cathedra on the meaning of it all, or spouts ethics. It's near-impossible to find untainted, uninterpreted information. Probably, it is in principle impossible, since all "facts" are theory-laden.

For wisdom I look to four sources, two secondary, the other two primary.


One of my secondary sources is philosophy. Philosophy is philo - sophia, the "love of wisdom." I have immersed my self in philosophical literature since 1970, when I changed my university major to philosophy. I have gotten a lot of wisdom from philosophers, even from atheists who, though I disagree with their core conviction, display intra-worldview intuition.


My second secondary source for wisdom is people who know God, who spend much time with God, and reflect on their experiences with God. In 1970 I became a believer in God and follower of Jesus.  Two books were placed into my hands, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Since then I have not  stopped reading Christian theistic wisdom literature, having up to ten books going at a time.


I know many Jesus-followers who have never written a book, yet possess wisdom. These are people who love God and know God and spend much time with God. God speaks wisdom through them, to me.


My first primary source for wisdom is the Christian Scriptures; viz., The Book. Since 1970 I have been swimming in a sea of wisdom from above, mediated through the words of the Bible. Currently, I am re-soaking in the Psalms and the Book of Ecclesiastes. Here is deposited the wisdom of the ages, illuminated to me by God the Holy Spirit.


Primary wisdom source #2 is the Holy Spirit. Scripture points me to the living relationship with God's Spirit, who illuminates and guides me. 

In addition, I have my favorite human wisdom mentors. Eugene Peterson is one of them. Here Peterson points me in the right direction.  

"If we forget that the newspapers are footnotes to Scripture and not the other way around, we will finally be afraid to get out of bed in the morning. Too many of us spend far too much time with the editorial page and not nearly enough with the prophetic vision. We get our interpretation of politics and economics and morals from journalists when we should be getting only information; the meaning of the world is most accurately given to us by God’s Word." (Peterson, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best, Kindle Locations 661-668)


***
My two books are Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God, and Leading the Presence-Driven Church (now in production, available December 2017).