Saturday, December 17, 2011

Where is Wisdom?... and Understanding

I read in the paper yesterday that Christopher Hitchens has passed away. It has only been in the recent weeks that I even knew who he was. I stumbled across his essay Tropic of Cancer  in The Best American Essays 2011. The essays were compiled by Edwidge Danticat, a favorite author of mine, and so I picked the book up off the table of New Arrivals at Barnes and Nobles and headed for the comfy chairs to read through it to determine if I would purchase it. Tropic of Cancer was a surprise. To the best of my knowledge it was originally published in the September 2010 issue of Vanity Fair.  I found it so well written that I was very intrigued by this author. When I got home I googled the man. To my surprise and disappointment, I found that he was a very vocal atheist. You see, I have a problem with that in an evaluation of what is truly brilliant, or great, or even wise and what is really the true value of anothers opinion or art. What I put my time and effort to is important to me and I want it to count for something. When I read about Picasso's life I found that he was cruel, and mostly to family members. That devalued his artistic skills in my eyes. Hunter Thompson, a man I found to be a true original, at least at first, I can only question the value of his opinions in the last part of his career due to his violent end. That also is my opinion of Ernest Hemingway. I don't know what that opinion of mine says about myself but that is not the issue here or my purpose in writing this. Why I am writing is my own effort to sort through the skill of the man which I found to be great, and what is truly as I wrote earlier, brilliant and worthy of my time.

In writing this I quickly bogged myself down with what words of my own I would or could use to argue that to have no belief in God was actually the opposite of brilliant, or great, or wise. My point of view or attempt to articulate that was feeble, very feeble especially in light of Mr. Hitchen's considerable writing skill. But then I recalled a favorite passage in Scripture, chapter 28 in the book of Job. And so I am ending this with that passage because it says what I mean much better than I ever could.

Job 28

Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found

 1 There is a mine for silver
   and a place where gold is refined.
2 Iron is taken from the earth,
   and copper is smelted from ore.
3 Mortals put an end to the darkness;
   they search out the farthest recesses
   for ore in the blackest darkness.
4 Far from human dwellings they cut a shaft,
   in places untouched by human feet;
   far from other people they dangle and sway.
5 The earth, from which food comes,
   is transformed below as by fire;
6 lapis lazuli comes from its rocks,
   and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,
   no falcon’s eye has seen it.
8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,
   and no lion prowls there.
9 People assault the flinty rock with their hands
   and lay bare the roots of the mountains.
10 They tunnel through the rock;
   their eyes see all its treasures.
11 They search[a] the sources of the rivers
   and bring hidden things to light.

 12 But where can wisdom be found?
   Where does understanding dwell?
13 No mortal comprehends its worth;
   it cannot be found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, “It is not in me”;
   the sea says, “It is not with me.”
15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold,
   nor can its price be weighed out in silver.
16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,
   with precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,
   nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;
   the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.
19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;
   it cannot be bought with pure gold.
 20 Where then does wisdom come from?
   Where does understanding dwell?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
   concealed even from the birds in the sky.
22 Destruction[b] and Death say,
   “Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.”
23 God understands the way to it
   and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth
   and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he established the force of the wind
   and measured out the waters,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
   and a path for the thunderstorm,
27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
   he confirmed it and tested it.
28 And he said to the human race,
   “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
   and to shun evil is understanding.”

1 comment:

  1. In this present age, we certainly have to be discerning about what voices we are allowing to influence us. Certainly, without the fear of the Lord, people will be led astray.