12 May 2010

did Solomon say ignorance is bliss?

I've started reading through Proverbs with my "mentee". No doubt King Solomon was a smart guy. God granted him wisdom above anything else because Solomon earnestly prayed for it. But I can't help thinking as I have read Solomon's Ecclesiastes in the past if maybe the wise king didn't quoin the term "ignorance is bliss".

Solomon comes to grip in his writings that all is vanity and nothing is worthwhile under the sun. Some people (like my friends) probably would have called him a cynic at that point. I asked one of my friends a few weeks ago if he thought that Solomon ever regretted praying for wisdom. He didn't think so. But I'm not so sure.

There are few things that stop me in my shoes and cause me to wonder about their "meaninglessness". One is politics. I really don't see any good from it, nor do I have any hope in our ability to correct the democratic process. Maybe you've come to the same conclusion some time ago-for me it was certainly a supernatural epiphany leading me to this conclusion. I think I know why God wanted me to understand this-the question for me becomes what do I do with it now?

The other is the church. The church universal, and local. I simply don't have faith in our ability to be the church as Christ commanded. A few times I've been jazzed about what I thought would become a movement to reach the hurting, only to see our humanness get in the way as we revert to a polished, acceptable waspy sort of Christianity. I'm guilty of it too....I just want to believe that we have the ability to change our course. I don't. This was wisdom gleaned from persecution. Believing that God has a purpose in things such as this....then I have to believe that it was God-given wisdom as well.

Honestly I go back and forth between wishing I did and didn't know the things I do. Frankly my life would be so much easier politically if I either didn't care, or didn't know. If I could just be a part of the mindless mob.....I'm pretty sure I know how to make comments that incite anger even if they weren't true. And I wish I could settle comfortably into the pew and go with the flow-instead of being tormented by what feels like an abdication of our responsibility because we get caught up in the four walls of the church. I wish I couldn't see that.

I googled "ignorance is bliss" just to test my hypothesis. I was wrong. Poet Thomas Gray penned the words in his poem "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College". These are the last two lines of his 100 line poem: No more; where ignorance is bliss, 'Tis folly to be wise.


Amen.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking about getting this t-shirt.

4 comments:

PNW Hoosier said...

HR,

In my opinion, the reason you cannot sit idle on the sidelines and just watch things go by is your leadership instinct. You know what is the right thing do to and endeavor to do it despite the cost to your personal desires or ambitions. It is a trait that is admirable, especially in today's world.
Trust me, far too many people find it easier to satisfy their own ambitions at the expense of the greater good.

hoosier reborn said...

PNW,

Your last line pretty much cuts to the point. How do we achieve the greater good when we've empowered people who systematically have run over us? Shouldn't we be smarter? No, in fact we reward those who consistently choose to do wrong by us. There is no avenue for folks who choose to do right. Well, other than complaining on a blog!

HR

jimgrey said...

I once read a quote by, I want to say Oliver Wendell Holmes, that went something like this: "It matters less what vote you cast in the ballot box than what kind of man you cast into the street each morning." I'd amend that first clause to say "or what church you go to."

I think it's futile to change systems from within. People suck, they truly, truly do. There are buttheads in every human institution, and frankly it seems like the buttheads rule the day.

But I have this hazy hippie vision that the most important thing we can do for everyone is to keep reaching out one to one to introduce people to Jesus. He can change hearts, bring out the fruits of the Spirit in people. Wouldn't most of the problems you cite just go away if everyone were more fully fruited? Would human institutions not simply work better?

hoosier reborn said...

Jim,

I like your thinking. And sometimes I get a bit hippie with my thinking too...just hoping. You know I'm thinking of one butthead most particularly over last week and this!

HR