2 Quotes from My Reading Recently

Two quotes from the books I have been reading recently have really been connecting with me. The first is from Hans Rosling’s “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things are Better Than You Think.” Rosling wrote:

Being intelligent — being good with numbers, or being well educated, or even winning a Nobel Prize— is not a shortcut to global factual knowledge. Experts are experts only within their field.

I see this quite often. Someone is an expert at one thing and then tends to think he/she is knowledgeable about most every subject. Just because you are very talented in one thing doesn’t necessarily mean that you are talented in other things. You may be a great welder, business owner, pharmacist, guitar player, or pastor but that knowledge and skill doesn’t necessarily transfer to other fields. The problem is that experts often aren’t very used to or good at admitting what they don’t know. It takes a great deal of humility to do so.

In my field of pastoring/chaplaining I hear some people speak with force on subjects that they are completely ignorant concerning. For example, I have heard pastors who have undergraduate Bible school degrees and Masters in Divinity and haven’t had a job outside of the church since whatever their high school job was speak with force concerning business matters and expect others to believe what they say just because they are pastors. I’m not saying they are wrong when they speak, rather it is belief that others should listen to you because you are a pastor that I am writing against. Just because you have knowledge in one field doesn’t mean that you have any in another. Another example is I have heard people who were hugely successful in one field interpret scripture in some amazingly weird manners and expect people to listen to them. I remember talking with a Medical Doctor and him proudly tell me about the “very interesting” insight he had taught the previous week in Sunday School. When I heard it I kept thinking to myself “how was this guy able to make it into medical school?” Obviously though this guy had been smart enough to make it into and pass medical school, that just didn’t make him an expert in biblical interpretation. Being an expert in one field doesn’t make you an expert, or even marginally proficient, in all fields.

The second quote is from Michael Pollan “A Place of My Own.” I read this book because Adam recommend that I do so and I love the fact that I can trust my kids recommendations. They both have wonderful taste in books, music, and movies. This is a long quote but I really like it. Pollan wrote:

As it was, the architects fretted over what the owners would do to their works of art which, most of them agreed, would never again be as perfect as the day before move-in day. … Modernists often designed their interiors not so much for particular individuals as for Man; they regarded the addition of clients’ stuff as a subtraction from a creation they thought of as wholly their own.  This is one legacy of modernism that we have yet to overcome: our stuff and, in turn, our selves still very often have trouble gaining a comfortable foothold in a modern interior. …

Certainly when I think about spaces that I remember as having a strong sense of place, it isn’t the ‘architecture’ that I picture—the geometrical arrangements of wood and stone and glass—but such things as watching the world go by from the front porch of the general shop in town, or the scuffle of 10,000 shoes making their way to work beneath Grand Central Station’s soaring vault. The ‘design’ of these places and the recurring events that give them their qualities—the spaces and the times—have grown together in such a way that it is impossible to bring one to mind without the other.

Conor took this photo yesterday while we were signing and was nice enough to share it with me.

We had “threads” over to the house yesterday for our annual “don’t meet at Washington Sunday”. Our little church becomes even smaller during the holidays, so instead of everyone traveling being a detriment we turn it into a positive. We meet in a different home or two and potluck together to increase our fellowship. Yesterday we were supposed to be at a different home but they were dealing with the flu and therefore our home became the backup home. Two of the threads starting asking me what the stories were behind various things in our house. For example, why do we have a photo of a quizzical looking goat prominently on our living room wall. Pam has done an amazing job of making our home look nice and inviting, but even more important she has done an amazing job of making sure that our home tells you who we are. I believe that if you broke into our home (I don’t recommend this because we have a vicious basset hound who will maul you) you would quickly get an idea of who we are, who the important people are in our lives, and what values are important to us. Our home will never be in an architectural magazine or rate as great interior design among Instagram influencers, but it does achieve what I believe is the most important function of a home after keeping your safe and sound from the weather – it conveys who we are.

Winston Churchill once said:

We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us.

I believe that this shaping of us is also true regarding whether the design of our homes speak of who we are or not. If i walk into your home and it is beautifully designed but it tells me nothing of who you are, well that probably tells me a great deal about who you are. If our homes don’t speak of who we are, then they have probably shaped us into people about which there is nothing of value to speak.

are you talking to me?
The goat on our living room wall.

Anyhow, I hope 2018 was a wonderful year for you and 2019 will be just as great. May God’s grace and peace rest upon us all in 2019.

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