Note to My Readers: from mid-June to mid-August (6/18 - 8/20), I will be taking a summer break from posting new articles for my Thursday and Friday slots. This will only affect my Thursday series on the global growth of Christianity, and my Friday series, the "Theological Bestiary" of birds, both of which will resume in late August. During the summer, I'll be dusting off some of my best essays from the first few years of this blog (a decade ago), as well as my verse play "Thus Ends the World," and re-posting them in the Thursday and Friday slots. All other weekdays will continue to feature new material throughout the summer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Frank Admission of My Ignorance


Here's a new poem I just wrote. I've been bothered in the past few weeks by just the sheer mass and volume of opinionated bluster that gets thrown out into the public sphere in this age of the Internet and social media. A lot of people seem to think that they know all the pertinent facts to ensure that their opinion is right, and simply want to triumph in an intellectualized battle of egotism, fought in miniscule half-thoughts posted in comment sections. As I thought about it, I reflected that I too, have a prideful longing to know more than others, and to come out the victor in debates on the rare occasion that I find myself in that situation. I style myself as knowledgeable in history, theology, philosophy, science, and art--and true, I might be more conversant in those fields than many of my fellow citizens--but the amount of knowledge I actually have is infinitely small compared to the amount of knowledge out there to be known. So I wrote a poem to administer a dose of humility that I probably need. It reflects not only on the human greed for knowledge, but also on the all-too-common tragedy that we do not even put into practice the meaningful, life-transforming truths that we do know.

A Frank Admission of My Ignorance

Oh Lord, be merciful to me,
A fool if fool there be;
For I know nothing but Thy will,
And still I wrestle Thee.

I know not much of history,
Nor science, nor the arts,
But know Thou bid’st me follow Thee
With mind, soul, strength, and heart.

I know not much of politics,
Nor how the world should run,
But know Thou call’st me to be pure,
An image of Thy Son.

Yet knowing this is fractured bliss
That’s interspersed with pain;
For knowing and not following
Will add to sin its shame.

Oh, in my folly I would seek
The knowledge of all things;
But I need knowledge less than faith
To serve the King of Kings.

Lord, Thou hast made me smart enough
To know that I’m not wise;
(A knowledge rare in this our age
Of boastful enterprise);

Take Thou away the pride that longs
To reign in intellect;
And grant that I may practice what
I’ve learned in this respect:

That I may live the truth I know,
And boldly to submit
My life, my choice, my intellect,
To what Thou hast for it.

Though earthly men might think me smart,
I’d rather faithful be:
To master this unruly heart,
Obey, and follow Thee.

Lord, here I drink humility,
And here my pride, it dies;
I not for nothing nothing know,
That Thou might make me wise.

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