Exercising Power With Knowledge

Two farmers were discussing life one day, and one started bragging about his kid going to college. She’s getting a BS, MS, and Ph.D., he said. “What’s that,” replied the other farmer.

“Well, you know what BS is?” he asked. “Yes,” came the reply.

“MS is more of the same, and PhD is piled higher and deeper,” explained the proud father.

I first heard that little joke when I was 10. I experienced it first hand when I was 20.

It’s similar to the comment about specialization of academia, that the more you study, you know more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing.

Seneca, the ancient Stoic philosopher, noticed this sort of thing 2,000 years ago. He complained about people who could speculate for hours about whether the Iliad or the Odyssey was written first or who the author was. “Far too many good brains have been afflicted by the pointless enthusiasm for useless knowledge.”

Do you find too many church people like this? They speculate endlessly about an obscure verse in the Bible and miss the point of Jesus’s mission.

Problems ensue when they settle on an interpretation and use that to tell people what to believe. They attempt to control the thoughts of those around them.

It’s that power problem in a different guise.

It’s also the opposite of the “Acts 2 church” where people were attracted by the life the people were living not by being forced to agree with some arcane interpretation of a writing. It’s not a state of knowledge; it is a state of being.

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