Forums Spiritual Theology 1.2: The Way of Ignorance

  • 1.2: The Way of Ignorance

     Anonymous updated 1 year ago 15 Members · 56 Posts
  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 11, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    NB: Discussion posts are required for the Academic Track; everyone is welcome to participate.

    How is the way of ignorance (a la Wendell Berry and Thomas Pynchon) the way to wisdom? (100 words)

    Due: Initial posts by 9/24, responses to at least two peers by 9/25

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 22, 2020 at 9:42 am

    I understood “the way of ignorance,” to mean the way of humility. It means first that we take the approach to life that we are ignorant, and in that way open our eyes to see how we are falling short, and to correct ourselves. To see how we have given in to the idiocy of the “corporate mind” as Pynchon describes. Then, the starting point of accepted ignorance becomes the motivation for reaching out towards higher wisdom and knowledge. It seems like one of the great ironies of mankind, that in order to see, we must accept that we are blind; that our best guess at the future comes from knowing we cannot guess it. The cost of wisdom is the humility to know we are not wise at all.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 25, 2020 at 12:52 pm

      I completely agreed with our take on the way of ignorance. It is so amazing how powerful we can be as individuals and and as a community when we humble ourselves. I used to think of humility of being less than. And in my journey in recovery I have discovery that humility is having a realistic view of who I am, my strength and weaknesses and how to use all of that to the benefit of community and myself.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 29, 2020 at 10:08 am

      Thanks, Eric, for this helpful connection between the way of ignorance and humility. Helpful to know that there are many contradictions we must wade through in order to embrace the path of wisdom.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 22, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Pynchon writes that “It is simply wrong to begin with a theme, symbol or other abstract unifying agent, and then try to force characters and events to conform to it.” Berry states that “We know almost nothing of our history as it was actually lived.” I’ve been contemplating these two statements as we are prompted to reflect on our spiritual and ecclesial journey in this fellowship. How can I trust myself to narrate my own story? Too often I find myself struggling to make sense of the past by forcing the events and characters into an idea that I have newly constructed. Particularly, I’ve been trying to make sense of the churches I grew up in within the narrative of evangelicalism that dominates our current national conversation. Lately I’ve been asking my family members to recount their experiences of our former churches. While listening, I realized how much I had flattened the complexity of the human stories within my own history. I have so much more to learn about my own past. “The way of ignorance” brings us to recognize how little we know, to hold our ideas a little more loosely, and perhaps make space for us to actually see the world in its full complexity and mystery.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 23, 2020 at 3:55 pm

      This is beautifully said, Yising. It’s a brave choice to ask others to recount a shared experience because it will very likely challenge the shape you’ve given it.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 24, 2020 at 8:30 pm

      Yising, I really love the idea of challenging our own perceptions of shared experiences. This is truly a deep dive into what these readings are about. That we could have been present for the same experience as someone else and have shaped it in our mind so differently is really a fascinating idea. I think about this often as I think about my own perceptions of my mother when I was a child compared to now that I have my own children.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 26, 2020 at 2:06 am

      I think it’s interesting to consider the narratives we have been given by society and our communities that we then try to fit ourselves into, and then also consider how our self-narration evolves over time. I feel like I’ve rewritten the tellings of my own story from when I first shared my testimony at my baptism at 14, year after year, until now the story has evolved. I think at a midpoint in my journey ( in my early years I was very fundamentalist) I kind of scorned my younger self for her zealousness, but I think that God has shown me love and grace for my younger self? Shown me that even if I acted foolishly or unwisely that my intentions and heart was in the right place, and that I am still that fervent zealous teenage girl, just with of my edges sanded down now, and to love that inner child. I think that it helps me to realize that maybe in 5 or 10 years, I’ll look back at my current self and think or feel similarly as I do now about 5 or 10 years ago, but that I can extend the same grace to myself as I attempt to narrate my own story. I think there’s grace for you in that Yising as you wrestle with your narratives, and I think the Bible inspires me too, stories like Jonah’s but also the four Gospels are telling the same story in four different ways, and like the four faces of God in Ezekiel, we are seeing Jesus (and ourselves) in new seasons, eyes, and light, and there’s something to be gained in all of it, there doesn’t need to be one static authoritative story, but many versions.

      I was inspired as a teenager when I learned about how many of the impressionists would go out into nature and paint the same subject again and again and again (haystacks, trees, flowers, lilies etc), because the subject would change depending on the season, depending on the time of day, the light, the weather. Sometimes we feel like to know something in its essence we capture it in a static “authentic” true moment, but to understand the haystack in the field, we paint it, again and again, summer, winter, spring, fall, morning, noon, evening, and that is our relationship both to our own stories, the Gospel/the Bible, and ourselves in the meta-narrative God is writing!

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 26, 2020 at 9:28 am

      My grandfather is 92 and lives in El Salvador but every time he comes I make sure to sit with him and ask him questions about our family. I love what you are doing in asking about your history. I love to hear stories about where we came from and how we got here and what is repeating. In hearing my family’s history I have a lot of “aha” moments and I get to see where I got some of who I am from.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 29, 2020 at 10:15 am

      “I have so much more to learn about my own past.” Really love this thought. Whereas conventional wisdom says we are the experts of our own past, authors and masters of our own story, you’re reminding us that our lives are always a collective enterprise, whether we admit it or not. And your earlier question is equally powerful: “How can I trust myself to narrate my own story?” We are not solo authors or archivists, we are dependent on a community of people, as you are learning by listening to your family members.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 22, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    These two readings really brought me back to the early days of my medical training. Many people enter medical school with the perception that to care for people you have to learn as much as you can so you can know everything. I began to notice that the physicians and caregivers I respected most and who were able to be the best healers demonstrated the most humility. When Wendell Berry discusses the “wisdom of humility” he is discussing a deeper self awareness that allows us to see that we do not and cannot know everything. In doing this, we are able to engage on a deeper level with those we serve and those we are in community with. When admit that we do not know something or that someone may know something that we do not, we create a sacred space for discussion, reflection and connection. In that space we have an opportunity to learn and grow. In this space, we find the ways in which we might bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 23, 2020 at 5:16 pm

      I love this connection to your medical studies! I think so many look to doctors or other professionals to know everything and yet it is those who admit they don’t when the moment comes that show they are truly wise.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 24, 2020 at 12:19 pm

      It makes sense that the people you respected most were the humble ones. We are all forced to walk in ignorance anyway, so we can either accept our ignorance, or pretend we know everything. It’s cool to hear how that humility has such obvious effects that it makes people better caregivers and healers.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 24, 2020 at 9:32 pm

      Sarah, your post made me think about my experience navigating healthcare during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I felt safest and most cared for by the doctors who were interested in what I needed and asked lots of questions. I felt scared and uncomfortable with doctors who seemed more interested in asserting their authority and didn’t take what I said seriously. Fortunately, the most humble, kind woman delivered my baby, and she made such a lasting impression on me. I honestly think about her all the time because of how valuable her kindness was in that vulnerable moment.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 26, 2020 at 2:26 pm

      Thank you for sharing this. My mother has end stage cancer and we recently switched oncologists for this very reason. There is something so refreshing about a physician who recognizes these ambiguities and complexities of treating patients. Humility in the face of uncertainty is a posture that I want to take as well.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 29, 2020 at 10:20 am

      There is a freedom and spaciousness we find when we admit “we do not and cannot know everything.” So good, so true. Thanks, too, for the reminder that this need for the “wisdom of humility” applies to all of life.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 10:29 pm

      Thanks for this reflection:the physicians and caregivers I respected most and who were able to be the best healers demonstrated the most humility. …When admit that we do not know something or that someone may know something that we do not, we create a sacred space for discussion, reflection and connection.” For me, Berry’s essay brought to mind those authors who I have most appreciated are those who have demonstrated humility in writing, naming their own limits of understanding, for example, or their own questions. This posture cultivates trust in me, as a reader. It invites me in, as a participant. Of course, the opposite posture has the opposite effect: it causes me to shut down, it silences me, etc. Such good reminders for any of us who speak or write or teach, in any way. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 23, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    I really appreciated the way Pynchon made space for his earlier thinking and mistakes. He pokes fun at them, but in the end, I think his attitude is that all of those ways of thinking he would love to now disavow, he can’t, because they led him to where he is now, and where he still has yet to go. Richard Rohr considers this a process of “transcending and including” and is a key to nondual living. Growing up, I really hated being made to look like a fool, particularly by my older sister, who made a daily practice of humiliating me. At first, my reaction was to try to act as though I couldn’t be fooled – that I already knew everything. Thankfully, by proximity to others who had spent a lifetime of “never being wrong” I realized that this was the path to foolishness; that if I never admited I was wrong – or never chanced the possibility of being wrong – I could never actually learn anything (and I’d be a right pain in the ass to everyone around me). To the bigger question of how we obtain true wisdom, Berry instructs us that individual humility is the only way to disrupt the arrogant ignorance of the corporate mind which will only ever value power and profit.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 24, 2020 at 12:11 pm

      I didn’t think of this in such personal terms like not wanting to be wrong in front of others. I totally relate, and that was a good perspective to have.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 24, 2020 at 4:06 pm

      I think I am a bit prideful by nature, and if I didn’t keep myself in check, I would be one of those people who acts like they are never wrong. This posture totally comes from a place of insecurity – I need to make people believe that I am never wrong in order to hide my inner self-doubt. I think this insecurity explains the arrogant actions of many people.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 24, 2020 at 8:33 pm

      This is a really good point. The power of ignorance as a form of resistance is really resonating with me right now. I’m wondering if and how this could be done or is being done in a group/organized format as a movement.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 29, 2020 at 10:25 am

      The idea of owning or remembering the past seems really significant. How will we learn if we simply erase or gloss over or deny our mistakes in the past? There are so many implications that flow out in so many areas, not least the conversations around Jesus and John Wayne and the mistakes of evangelicals in shaping American culture.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 23, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Reading both Wendell Berry and Thomas Pynchon, I was reminded of Ecclesiastes, and the wisdom that comes from a recognition that the human life is finite and the human is only capable of certain knowledge. I found it particularly fascinating how Berry connected a certain lack of awareness and arrogance with the abuse of power that has led the earth to be in disarray. Although it can be easy to feel discouraged by the immensity of these abuses, I found it hopeful that my small choice to “change myself” by “removing [my] mind from the corporate ignorance and arrogance that is leading the world to destruction” can make a larger impact. When many individual people begin to admit their ignorance and need, it can create a spark of humility that can cut through the forces that perpetrate our systems. And this, I believe, is how it is the way of wisdom.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 24, 2020 at 3:56 pm

      I struggle with Berry’s idea about removing one’s mind from corporate ignorance and arrogance can have an impact on the world. If I could wave a magic wand and make everyone in the world more humble and open to new possibilities, I’m sure that would have a big impact on the world. But the lived reality seems to be that in our system, those who embrace this corporate ignorance are often handed power, power that outweighs the impact of humble individuals. I don’t think this means we should give in and “play dirty” in order to try and achieve something good – I don’t think much good can come from those methods. But I’m stuck as to what to do in order to make an impact on the world.

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        September 24, 2020 at 8:13 pm

        Corinne, I like your connection to Ecclesiastes here. In addition to that, the importance of individualizing. My tendency is to get overwhelmed by the masses – or potentially the corporate mind you could say. It is important to remember – my votes does count. I can have an impact on bettering the environment by the choices I make. I can make a difference in anti-racism work and support local black businesses. So through the process of being humbled and human – we can see wisdom.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 29, 2020 at 10:58 am

      Great reflections, Corinne. What to do with ourselves in relation to “corporate ignorance and arrogance” is such a vexing question. You do a great job of pointing out the need for lives of humility to provide an alternative template.

      I hear and feel Jessica’s good, hard struggle. There is some freedom that comes from realizing we are not tasked with offering solutions but living faithful lives. And yet, this can feel too little in the face of the world’s big problems.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 23, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    I found the descriptions of various types of ignorance in Wendell Berry’s “The Way of Ignorance” to be very helpful. In order to assume a more intellectually humble posture, we must recognize the various manifestations of ignorance: arrogant ignorance, ignorance of the past, willful ignorance, moral ignorance, etc. Once we recognize and accept the limits of our knowledge and understanding, we can begin to learn what it means to become wise. Wisdom, I think, is cultivated and stewarded over many decades of recognizing how little we actually know, or even can know. Pychon reflecting on his earliest body of work in “Slow Learner” says, “…if through some as yet undeveloped technology I were to run into him today, how comfortable would I feel about lending him money, or for that matter even stepping down the street to have a beer and talk over old times?” It is stunning that a novelist as prolific as Pychon would reflect upon his earliest work – and his earliest self – with these words. On the other hand, these early short stories were formative to his craft as a writer. Pychon recognizes with hindsight that his journey to becoming a compelling writer -a wise writer – was paved with much ignorance. After reading both Berry and Pychon, it’s clear to me that my own journey is rife with examples of extreme ignorance reflected in my actions or lack of action. However, these experiences that I would now recognize as at the very least guided by ignorance, have also led to some of the wisest decisions I’ve made. The relationship between ignorance and wisdom can be complex, but in order to learn wisdom, one must go the way of ignorance.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 24, 2020 at 8:05 pm

      What a powerful thing to reflect on oneself in the past and realize the decisions often made in the most ignorance were the wisest choices! I often overthink things and find it difficult to make choices without believing I “know” all I can, but it’s a good challenge for me to lean into this method more. What decisions may I also look back on and realize the ignorance I held was a strength and not a weakness?

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        September 26, 2020 at 2:13 am

        @Jeffery & Corinne, I am totally with you about the wiser decisions being made out of ignorance (haha). I think there’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom, and in our age of omniscience (everything is a google away, knowledge is more available than ever) we seem to lack wisdom, we think if we know everything, we can calculate and predict the future, and then avoid negative outcomes or consequences. I think I’ve learned through wisdom there is no perfect path/choice/option and often times what is being asked of me is not to make a perfect decision but rather to make a decision and to accept/live with the consequences of that which takes grace and wisdom, not necessarily data or knowledge.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 24, 2020 at 8:35 pm

      Jeffrey, this is beautifully put. It shows why it is so important to show ourselves grace (along with everyone else). We are all operating as we know best in the moment though we may realize in retrospect the need for humility, we can be grateful for what the past has taught us.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 29, 2020 at 11:15 am

      Yes, it is so very helpful to remember that ignorance comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Equally important to see that broad scope of ignorance in ourselves. And sometimes, we bumble our way into wisdom.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 23, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    “Ignorance is bliss” Isn’t that the saying? Wendell Berry in his writing, The Way of Ignorance, outlines several different distinctions of ignorance. On the opposite side of the coin is knowledge, and its various degrees understanding. I believe what Berry’s point boils down to is this, knowledge creates patterns. Patterns tend to be accepted and adopted by the masses a.k.a. the corporate mind. This can give us a false sense of knowledge. Furthermore, the first step in true knowledge comes in recognizing, we don’t and can’t know everything. When we are able to name and acknowledge our ignorance, we allow faith to step in. Pynchon’s writing applies to this very concept. Learning and growth can come from reflecting on our lives and seeing where we might have got it wrong.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 26, 2020 at 9:19 pm

      Brandon, this is a really great observation. I have often heard it said that wisdom is knowledge applied properly. Over the years, I’ve ignorantly assumed that I had knowledge – and maybe I did have some knowledge – in a particular area, only to find out I was wrong. The older I get, the more I realize that knowledge divorced from wisdom can lead to real problems.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 27, 2020 at 10:36 pm

      Thank you, Brandon! One of the things that I have found most fascinating is the recent number of eyes that have been opened due to documentaries like “The Great Hack” and “The Social Dilemma.” It’s so easy for us to fall prey to false information, and to not do the work because we’re too lazy. The knowledge that comes from that is cheap, and ultimately opens us up to false narratives that become incredibly harmful.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 29, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Lots of great thoughts in the conversation here. I find this non-static, dynamic nature of wisdom really helpful, which highlights the need to never let knowledge sit in stasis.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 24, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    After reading Berry and Pynchon, I was reminded of something my yoga teacher used to say, that when you feel like you’ve “mastered” yoga it’s time to return to “beginner’s mind.” While the master may be full of knowledge and the beginner may be comparatively ignorant, the beginner’s mind is still open to infinite possibilities. The beginner has a sense of humility, as well as an awe for the unknown. In this way, ignorance – at least ignorance that is self-aware of one’s own limitations – can lead to great wisdom.

    A time when my mind was kind of reset into a state of beginner’s mind was when I was baptized in the Jordan River. I had been baptized before when I was a little girl, but I wanted to do it again now that I had more of a full understanding of what it meant to dedicate my life to Christ. But when I went down into the water, I had a kind of epiphany – I was still ignorant of the nature of God, maybe even more so than when I was a little girl, because now I was arrogant enough to think that I had developed a mature understanding. God is the ultimate mystery, and in that moment I was forced to acknowledge that I was still ignorant in the face of that mystery. This experience helped me to remain humble on my journey to seek God. In this way, realizing my own ignorance led me to a place of greater wisdom.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 24, 2020 at 8:24 pm

      Jessica, I really appreciate your personal connection and experience to the acknowledgment of ignorance. Being vulnerable and showing weakness is counter-intuitive to most of the systems in place in our society today. In the same that admitting ignorance can foster wisdom, there is so much courage in being vulnerable.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 29, 2020 at 11:50 am

      The “beginner’s mind” with both humility and awe – that is really beautiful. Humility ought to stand on its own well enough, but the addition or pairing with awe makes the whole thing even more compelling.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 24, 2020 at 11:47 pm

    I used to think that, as an Evangelical pastor, I needed to have all of the answers. After all, what were people expecting of us when we would go out to the streets to “evangelize” on a Friday night? People EXPECTED us to have answers to their deepest problems and questions; after all, that was why they attended. So the pressure was immense.

    Berry’s writing about the different types of ignorance almost comes off to me as almost hypocritical; talking about the need for humility and recognizing ignorance while doing so with a hint of expert knowledge about what that means. At the end of the day, though, Berry brings us to a place where we MUST realize that it is only in recognizing that we don’t know everything that we allow ourselves to be in a posture where we can learn more. Pynchon seems to recognize and illustrate that right away, almost relying on the knowledge of other people to try and find a place and way to fit in and then lamenting the fact that the “knowledge” he used to write became an embarrassment in later years as knowledge grew.

    Knowledge is a tricky thing; I find myself battling the need to speak from authority both as a parent of three grown children, but also as a leader, as a business owner, and within ministry. The reminder out of everything is that we are constantly growing, and that the people around us have just the same capacity to teach us as the people above us if we are willing to remain open to that.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 29, 2020 at 12:14 pm

      Appreciate the nuances you’re highlighting for us here, Ellie. Yes, there are pitfalls all around us, including the temptation to become an expert about ignorance (!). It’s also helpful to think about the ways in which one might wisely exercise authority in the variety of roles you mention. There is certainly no one-size-fits-all formula that works in every situation. The challenges are real and many.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 25, 2020 at 9:10 am

    (Apologies for a very long post ahead)

    “Only the fool thinks himself wise” is an aphorism that has bounced around in my brain for a long time that I cannot remember or attribute correctly anywhere. I think the kinder more politically correct /Biblical version of that sentiment is “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom” out of Proverbs, and Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”

    When I think about how I have experienced wisdom in the way of ignorance in my life, I think that it would be around the topic of homosexuality/same sex relationships.

    As a younger Christian, it seemed very simple to me, the Bible spoke very clearly. I was going to love the sinner and hate the sin, and someone who was gay and oriented towards the same sex should just abstain from acting on their attractions. Fast forward a few years, I realized that I was attracted to women, and suddenly the really simple directives I had once placed upon others was my own burden, and the issue was so much more complex and nuanced than I realized.

    I started spending time with other LGBTQ people (albeit not Christians), and I was ministered to by them in my distress and my neat categories for the us versus them of Christians and non-Christians were getting blurrier (the wise and the foolish, the saved and the lost). The more I studied the Bible, the more I prayed, the more nuance I was discovering, and hand in hand was that learning enough to realize how much I did not know. I learned that I had put my trust and identity and value into my assumptions of my own heterosexuality instead of in Christ to save me. I remember praying to God saying “I don’t know who I am anymore, I’m someone and somewhere I never thought I would be” and God said back to me, “I have always known who you are, even though you did not”.

    After many years in what many know as the “side b” camp /pursuing celibacy, my views were evolving, rooted in the same values and fundamental principles of belief that I had, but I was not sure that I was right (perhaps God does call some people to same sex relationships?). I was deeply convicted in prayer, scripture, and the Holy Spirit. I still did not know any same sex Christian couples who could prove that a relationship like this could bare good fruit, but I was starting to think it could be theoretically possible, and I still did not know if it was in the cards for me. I could be right and I could be wrong but I had no way of knowing which I was, but I had to act and stand upon my conviction. During this time I took comfort in the story and words of Martin Luther (from Imperial Diet in Worms 18 April 1521):

    “How much more should I, who am but dust and ashes, and so prone to error, desire that every one should bring forward what he can against my doctrine. Therefore, most serene emperor, and you illustrious princes, and all, whether high or low, who hear me, I implore you by the mercies of God to prove to me by the writings of the prophets and apostles that I am in error. As soon as I shall be convinced, I will instantly retract all my errors, and will myself be the first to seize my writings, and commit them to the flames…

    Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the council, because it is as clear as noonday that they have fallen into error and even into glaring inconsistency with themselves. If, then, I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture, or by cogent reasons, if I am not satisfied by the very text I have cited, and if my judgment is not in this way brought into subjection to God’s word, I neither can nor will retract anything; for it cannot be either safe or honest for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise; God help me! Amen.”

    Since then, God has shown me so much good fruit in so many same sex couples/relationships, and brought me an amazing community that challenges and ministers to me in my faith, but I still cling to that which God worked so hard to teach me: I could be wrong, still, but I will act according to my conviction. Just as I had to live and act accordingly when I felt called to celibacy, I live and act accordingly now, and this is the posture I take towards my theological conflicts with other Christians. When I minister to gay Christians, I never tell them what to do, I point them to the Bible, prayer, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit and tell them to act according to their convictions, because there were so many times that pastors or ministers spiritually gaslit/abused me because they were so sure of their rightness, they could not consider that they could be wrong (and I was right) and I do not want to do the same to others that was done to me. I take that attitude to other issues like predestination or baptism as well, we have to figure out how we are to live according to our limitation ability to know, our ways of ignorance with grace for the possibilities of other’s wisdom and ignorance as well.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 25, 2020 at 11:45 am

      Sue Ann, You honesty and courage in sharing your story with us brought tears to my eyes. I, myself struggle with similar issues. Ever since I can remember I knew I was gay and the fear of being rejected not only by God but by those whom I love use to control my life, what I did, who I hang out with the way I behave, it really took a toll me. When I realized that God loved me, that He created me and He knew exactly who I was long before I did and that I am exactly as He want me to be, I felt like the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders.

      We are so loved, and that love brought us to life bring us closer to those who are meant to fellowship with us and grow with us. Blessed be!

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 25, 2020 at 9:37 pm

      Thank you for sharing so vulnerably here. I admire your ability to hold your beliefs openhandedly when your own life is at stake within those beliefs. It reveals such a trust in God’s ability to speak in your life and deep hunger for righteousness, as the beatitudes say.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 26, 2020 at 7:49 am

      SueAnn, thank you so much for sharing this. Your faith and witness is a beautiful testament to God’s radically inclusive love.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 28, 2020 at 12:07 pm

      Hi SueAnn! Thank you so much for sharing your reflections here. I resonate with so much of this personally as a bi woman who is still in the process of coming out to family and friends, and theologically as someone who moved along the same spectrum of non-affirming > side B > affirming.

      I find a lot of comfort in the quote you’ve included here from Martin Luther. There are many moments where I still doubt myself and the convictions I have come to, and I still have a lot of personal work to combat internal homophobia and shame. I love the humility you’ve displayed here, both in how you approached this for yourself and how you now council others in their journeys.

      “I do not want to do the same to others that was done to me…we have to figure out how we are to live according to our [limited] ability to know, our ways of ignorance with grace for the possibilities of other’s wisdom and ignorance as well.” So well said.

      One thing I struggle with a lot right now is making space for non-affirming people, or even Christians on the journey to discernment, while knowing that I was in that very space not even a year ago. I think I see all the harm that non-affirming theology does and it’s hard for me to want to learn from people/churches that are non-affirming, or give grace in this regard. I was actually really challenged by what @elliegirl77 wrote about Beth Moore in the chat during our conversation with Kristen Du Mez in making space for people that are moving and trying, however slowly that may be.

      Is this something you struggle with/have struggled with? How do you approach this while balancing grace and truth and care for marginalized groups?

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        September 30, 2020 at 1:56 am

        So I know that it has come up before how our intentions do not erase the reality of the impact of our actions or beliefs (often times, we tend to resort to defending ourselves based on our intentions, while erasing the realities of their impact). I think that the way I can hold such things in tension is to discern someone’s intentions. For example, my best friend is a straight white woman who is not convinced to be fully affirming of LGBTQ relationships, even though she is affirming, her motivation is not homophobia, but truly a lack of conviction on scripture, she is however, quite humble, and therefore does not feel that it is her place to impose her belief upon LGBTQ people, especially since she recognizes that in the end, its not impacting her or her life at stake. I remember the first time I met someone I really was interested in dating, and I was sharing with her how excited I was to have met someone I felt was marriagable, and she cried because she did not want me to marry a woman. Later on, she called me and apologized saying that it kind of sucks when your friend tells you about someone they’re excited about and then you respond by crying. I told her that I wasn’t hurt by her response, I knew the tension she felt inside of herself, and that what she really desired was my righteousness which is why she was so distraught. If the shoe was on the other foot, and it has been in my life, I would be distressed by a friend or loved one pursuing a relationship I felt was going to lead to bad things/destructive stuff in their life. I think that part of the tension of living as siblings in Christ is our desire to see other’s live in righteousness/ shalom/ human flourishing while also respecting their spiritual agency.

        Over time, and after a lot of intentional work put in to help myself heal from my spiritual and religious trauma / triggers / C-PTSD, it gave me space to give people grace but also helped me to discern better people’s intentions or motivations? If you are having a hard time holding space for other’s growing pains, it might be because you haven’t been able to give yourself that grace. I remember I shared on a panel one time that I realized I gave others more grace than I did myself, and God pointed that out to me and said, maybe it’s time for you to love yourself as you love your neighbor? It’s also possible that it’s not your time/role/place right now to be the person directly engaging with those non affirming people. I’m not saying never to engage people who disagree with you but I’m saying if the wounds are too deep and fresh, its okay to have a boundary and say no I can’t (right now). I have had to learn these boundaries when it comes to engaging white people on racial justice work because I was so burned out / trying to pour from an empty cup that I couldn’t have the pastoral posture that they needed to help walk with them through their white fragility/journey of growth, part of it was that the white community I was in was demanding that I give and give and give. I had others tell me that it was okay to advocate for my own self care/boundaries/ sabbath rest, and then I began to draw those boundaries. Now I do engage with both white and non affirming people, but not in a way that is exploitative extraction on their part but with healthy boundaries both for them and for me.

        But returning to the issue of intentions, I have engaged with non affirming people who are motivated by pride, malice, and greed, their intention is not righteousness or repentance but power. I do not engage people like that the same as I do people who’s hearts are in the right places but aren’t there theologically. This is another kind of boundary I guess! I think that for those who’s intentions are good, you can show them the impact of their beliefs, and that will engage their intention to reorient/grow, but if you share with them the harmful impacts of their good intentions and they don’t care about correcting, then their intent was never genuine to begin with, merely a protective barrier for their racism or homophobia. I think it does come back in many ways to pride! and the way of ignorance/ a person’s ability to be humble, and not everyone is there, and its okay to draw a boundary if someone is not engaging in good faith.

        hope that helps?

        • Anonymous

          Deleted User
          October 4, 2020 at 4:56 pm

          Wow, thank you so much for this response! I am going to copy/paste this in a note for myself because I think there’s a lot of wisdom, humility, and quite honestly good theology here that I’d love to come back to and learn from.

          This feels like the way of Jesus to me, and that gives me joy and hope. I had a conversation with my dad and my mom yesterday (separately as they’re divorced) which was basically just me checking in on where they stood on things – I came out to them both over the summer and we hadn’t talked about it too much since then. My dad is non-affirming and probably will remain that way, while my mom seems unsure of how to make sense of things theologically but wants to love and support me in doing what I think is right.

          At the end of the call with my dad and my mom, I realized that I was able to give them both a lot of grace for they were in handling something that is very culturally foreign to them and knowing that, even as they said things that were hurtful or ignorant, I could see them trying and I wasn’t immediately angry/judgmental of where they were in the process. I’m hoping to be able to carry this over with people in the church + friends too, while also maintaining those healthy boundaries and adapting those for different periods of my life like you suggested.

          Thank you again for this SueAnn. Blessings to you!

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 29, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      What a gift you have shared with us, SueAnn. Thank you for this, all of this. The example of Luther is very helpful here. It seems to me to be such a wonderful thing when your spiritual journey, which is necessarily at times solitary and lonely, comes into contact with the lives of others. Just as Luther was not a solo reformer (there was after all a great cloud of witnesses who came before him and went alongside him, though our histories tend to emphasize individual heroics), your posture of humility toward others in community is inspiring. We see through a glass darkly, but we still see. And with the help of others, we sometimes (though not always) see more.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 30, 2020 at 12:27 am

      SueAnn –

      Thank you so much for your vulnerability and openness. It actually took me walking away from the church – and a lifetime of belief that I was destined for full time ministry – in order for me to come to terms with my own identity as a queer trans woman. Funny how God works like that. It was only once I came out and started transitioning that God used a woman in my coworking circle to invite me to a women’s service at her Southern Baptist church. And it was there that God helped me realize that the call was still there — except this time, it came with a humility that I don’t have all of the answers, and that the answers I thought I had before weren’t as black and white as I had made them out to be.

      Blessed to be in this cohort with you!

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        September 30, 2020 at 2:12 am

        One time my friend Rachel Hester and I were having a conversation about how we thought misogyny and white supremacy had corrupted the vocation of pastoring. We were thinking about how seminary training focuses on theology / knowledge orientation a lot, but maybe in their 3 or 4 years, you only take like 1 or 2 classes on pastoral care. It systematically enforces this idea that what it means to be a pastor is to have the right answers, to have the knowledge, but pastoring (as opposed to teaching) is the role of the shepherd, which is more of just being there, being present, and walking with people, not having all the answers. I think this creates an undue burden upon pastors and also sets congregants to be disappointed in the idol/pedestal they’re told to put their pastors upon.

        Just being present, caring for each other, holding their hand through difficult stuff, that’s what it means to be the pastor. When I think of those who have shown me the most pastoral care in my church life, it has often been women who have just sat with me, listened, been there for me, and they never presented themselves as having answers and I never expected them to give them to me, but I just needed someone to be there with me. I’m glad that after a lifetime of having to have all the answers, God has lead you to the way of ignorance and also, that it took that to get in touch with your feminine side =) <3

        • Anonymous

          Deleted User
          September 30, 2020 at 10:25 pm

          @SueAnn: I appreciate you sharing this reflection on those who have shown you the greatest pastoral care as those (women) who have made themselves present and vulnerable to you at a time of great need, without feeling any need to have the “answers” for you. I hear you here, absolutely. That, to me, is precisely what’s needed most in such valley experiences. And I like how you’re bringing this up in a discussion on wisdom. This posture feels like embodied wisdom, the kind we all of us could use more of. Thanks again!

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 25, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    When we reach a place in which we think we have all the answers and we know it all we denied ourselves the opportunity to grow individually and as a community. many of the problems we face today ay be solid by one person, but I am sure that the one person who get solved them at some point run their ideas and possible solutions with someone else.

    The same if I assumed that I know everything there is t know about faith, about God, about life, about myself I will be closing the door to much greater opportunities and the same time stoping my growth and keeping myself from giving to my community all that I could give by living a life or honesty, open-mindedness by keeping in my heart a firm conviction to the wellness of all mentally, physically and spiritually.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 26, 2020 at 2:23 am

      Oh this reminded me of a tweet I saw this week from David Dark:

      “I don’t think one can enter everlasting life without allowing ones mind to move/change (repentance). To refuse to change your mind is to be stuck/stupefied/stupid. The unchanged mind is, I suspect, a damned mind.

      Soul is just anima (movement). Remaining in motion by repenting (& being transformed) is the thing. The mind that refuses input/change/movement/transformation is, in a very deep sense, already in hell. It doesn’t have to stay there though. The doors of perception are open. ”

      https://twitter.com/DavidDark/status/1308582044340023298?s=20

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      September 27, 2020 at 10:26 pm

      I think I’ve learned so much more since admitting to myself that I don’t have all of the answers than I ever did in the years I spent at BIOLA University and as an Evangelical pastor. I think of it like a closet – and pride are those air-filled pouches that those packages from Amazon are packed in. We’ve got to deflate some of those balloons to make room for more knowledge, lest the space be completely filled with our own pride.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    September 30, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    In his essay, “The Way of Ignorance,” Wendell Berry describes “ignorant arrogance” as the prideful human mind that projects limitless confidence, instead of recognizing its limits and even its own responsibility for humanity’s problems. In contrast to such arrogant ignorance, the way of wisdom, according to Wendell Berry, is modeled by the human mind that recognizes its inherent limits. “To counter the ignorant use of knowledge and power we have,” Berry writes, “I am afraid, only a proper humility…” (63). Wisdom humbly recognizes its own ignorance, and, in so doing, reveals the futility of those who fail to do so.

    Thomas Pynchon’s introduction to his work, Slow Learner, embodies the counter-intuitive understanding of wisdom that Berry suggests. Pynchon is willing to walk the reader through examples of the “embarrassing” immaturity of his earlier writing, taking pains to point out where he used a phrase he didn’t actually know in an attempt to appear more intelligent, for example, while simultaneously revealing his own ignorance (to the savvy reader). Worse still are the examples of racist and sexist ideology, reflective of his time and place, sure, but harmful nonetheless (11). Pynchot’s willingness to reveal his own ignorance reveals a certain maturity, and even humility—the way of wisdom that Berry encourages in the face of so much “ignorant arrogance.”

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      October 5, 2020 at 11:11 am

      Thanks for this, Ryan. Excellent connections between Berry and Pynchon, and I especially find it helpful to see the ways in which Pynchon embodies what Berry describes. Striking how this work requires owning our past, warts and all.

Viewing 1 - 13 of 13 replies

Log in to reply.

Original Post
0 of 0 posts June 2018
Now