Ken Myers is interviewed in ByFaith Magazine. When a guy is paraphrased as saying “…what the church needs today is not more specialists, whether in theology or philosophy or church growth, but more ‘well-informed generalists’ who are interested in understanding all of culture in order to live more faithfully in God’s world,” or when he says that “wisdom is also a part of our vocation,” you know he’s onto something. Well, I do anyway. And if that doesn’t do it for you, the man was happily employed by NPR for a spell.
The interview is pocked with the usual insight Myers is good for. But the last question is where my interest was particularly piqued. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I am much less interested in making my own children memorize verses than getting them used to just listening to biblical text read at home and in church (their catechism is another matter). As they get older and sit in worship I encourage them to exercise the muscle of faith—their ears. “Listen to the words sung and prayed and said.” Much as I esteem quality preaching, it has never seemed to me that a sermon is so much designed to make students as it is to make believers and compel disciples. Ours seems a more organic project than a mechanical or academic one. I have a natural resistance to whatever it is that makes the modern creature, young or old, think he has to do something as ghastly as take notes during sermons.
So I think it is a stunning point Myers makes that the spoken and heard word is much more fundamental to our humanity. I think he’s right, but probably only because I agree with him. As well, his points about the power of conversation, learning and living with it instead of learning to take control and have power over things and being intuitive scratches where this un-calculating INTJ itches.
It seems ironic that you often commend older perspectives and practices, but you use a very new technological format.
The real irony is that the spoken word is more primitive than the printed word. So this is a technology that enables the recovery of a more primitive experience. I just did an interview about this with Craig Gay, who argues that hearing is the sense that the Scriptures focus on most. It’s the word heard. So there’s a sense in which the spoken word is more fundamental to our humanity.
In addition, the conversational format is a subtle way of challenging people to think about issues they probably wouldn’t read an article about. If they were browsing through a magazine, they might flip right by, whereas conversation can be more friendly, less off-putting.
I remember a conversation I had with one of my subscribers, who had a kind of high-energy, inside-the-Beltway job. And she said, “I really was interested in that interview with so-and-so, but I needed the bullet points; I needed to know what were the action items.” And I said the best action item would be to emulate Mary and ponder these things in your heart. I said I have no idea what you ought to do about it, but I think if you meditate on it long enough, if you try to acquire an understanding of it over time, it will be useful.
We tend to think we learn things so that we can take control, so we can step out and do something, rather than learning it and just living with it. But the people I know who behave really wisely are not that calculating. I think they’re kind of intuitive; they make decisions more from a kind of grounding in thoughtfulness.