Sunday, November 7, 2010

Does All Our Information Make Us Wise?

We live in an information age.  No great revelation there -- all of us are literally swamped with information.  From the child entering school where the amount of information multiplies many times to graduation to those in the last years of long life literally dizzied by the amount and face pace of information and change, we live in an age of information explosion.

But for all the information we have at our beck and call due to the availability and low cost of books, cd-rom media, and the internet, we are not necessarily growing wiser.  In fact, some would argue we are less wise than those who came before us.  Many of our choices are downright foolish, our vision marred by a refusal to see only the here and now, and our focus mostly on ourselves.

This is also true in the Church.  Our mailbox is inundated with programs, resources, and methods to explore to raise more money, recruit, care and feed volunteers, increase exposure, welcome guests, build facilities for the information era, exploit the resources of technology in the Church, etc...  For all the information, I wonder if we are doing a better job at these tasks or if we are so swamped with possibilities and choices that we are more paralyzed in information overload than programmed for action.

We have more Bible study choices available to us than ever before and yet we face a growing and critical problem of Biblical illiteracy both inside as well as outside the Church.  We have more Christian music available to us than ever before and yet we hardly know the first stanza to anything from Christmas carols to the sturdy hymns of old.  We have access to the great books of the past and to a library of new Christian books published every year and yet our people seem less informed of and confident of their church's teachings and faith.

Does the Church need this encyclopedic knowledge or does the Church need wise and faithful leaders?  It seems we are conflicted here.  We are dazzled by those who can spin off facts and pump our PowerPoint presentations -- especially if they come from outside the Lutheran circle and tell us what we need to ditch (liturgy, hymns, organ, hymnal, etc.) in order to grow.  We are dazzled by these thinkers but are we enamored of their wisdom or merely distracted by the layers of information they spout?

It seems to me that what we need in the parishes of our Synod and in the leadership offices of Synod are wise leaders -- who may or may not have an encyclopedic knowledge of things or be current on every technology but who are definitely confident, well-schooled in the faith, experienced in Christian living, and secure enough not to jump on every train that passes by.

I believe the same is true in our culture -- we are swamped with information and short of wisdom -- the practical and even methodical wisdom of those not blinded by the winds of change but not oblivious to them either.  It wouldn't hurt if we found a few folks like this to serve on school boards, city councils, county legislatures, statehouses and state legislatures, and in Washington, too.

The world will not slow down -- little chance of this -- but we do not have to be moved by every wind of change or every doctrinal fad or worship trend or technological toy.  Wisdom.  It was the call to listen to the Gospel in the Orthodox Divine Liturgy.  Maybe it is the call for us today.  Wisdom!  Attend!  There is something more important than information -- the Word of the Lord speaks and the Kingdom of God is here.


Janis Williams said...

Fr. Peters,

Truly wisdom and knowledge are NOT the same things.

I remember the partial verse you read from Isaiah last Thursday; "even if they are fools, they will not go astray."

It seems to me that today we have a lot of folk who are wise in their own eyes, and not content to be "fools for Christ's sake."

ErnestO said...

Filled with God - Not information

When the Spirit of God invades you there's a consequence that you don't anticipate. It's this: that you find yourself very sensitive to Jesus' suffering in other people. People become sacramental.

People are viewed as kind of vehicles through whom Jesus comes to us, so that when we look into their eyes we have this eerie awareness that Jesus is staring back at us. That's what it means to be a Christian, to be filled with God and to be sensitive to Jesus, waiting to be loved in needy people.
— The Rev. Dr. Tony Campolo