Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to Expand Your Mind While Not Floating Off Into Outer Space

 In the last post, I quickly realized that I was rapidly losing space in which to discuss the original reason for bringing up the topic. Perhaps part one did not scratch your particular itch (and for that matter, perhaps this one will not either), but, in any case, all I can do is write about the things that occur to me. Incidentally, feel free to leave comments below: questions, concerns, future topics of discussion, etc.

Now, back to where I was originally trying to take the discussion of the two types of knowing.  The simple fact is that the intellect--the life of the mind--involves more that just reading and writing and listening to lectures. It involves anything that makes a person think in a conscious way. Plato said that, "A life unexamined is not worth living." There are ways to examine one's life...not all of them involve books.

I say this as someone who is a struggling bibliophile. However, I think it is important for us to realize that many of the things we do, see, experience in life contribute to our knowledge and experience. So, if you are reading the 23rd Psalm, you could run to the commentaries to learn the deeper meanings of the text...or you could run to the pasture and spend some time with sheep. Both are beneficial and both types of learning should be held in balance in the Christian life. How often, though, do we examine our experiential knowledge? Do we reflect on our day and what we have learned? Do we write down the lessons we feel that God is teaching us?

The reason I bring this up is that some people think that being a Christian "intellectual" means someone who has read every book out there and is in 7 Bible studies a week but is otherwise a useless member of society and the "real world." However, look at the apostle Paul--a brilliant intellect in the Kingdom. Paul studied, to be sure, but he also reflected on what God was doing in his life and ministry. He drew on his life experiences to build powerful metaphors and illustrations in his letters. He traveled, prayed, debated, preached, and wrote.

Let us not become poor students of the world around us and the experiences to which God directs us. Experiential knowledge is an important part of the Christian mind. For a clear example of this, read Psalm 73 and notice what happens in verse 17.  Then, if you don't have one, find something you can call a journal and start knowing your own life in a deeper and richer way.

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