Baker Academic

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On Being Unintelligent in an Undignified Way - Le Donne

Look, we can't all be William Horbury. Most of us have to choose to become selectively intelligent. In becoming a scholar, one chooses a thing and becomes an expert in that thing. Higher education is an experience of unfolding realization.  It is impossible to become an expert in one narrow slice of the pie without coming to some realization that it would take a long lifetime to become an expert in several slices.  Because you have learned the difficulty of becoming an expert in one thing, you gain an appreciation for how little you know about other fields of research.  Upon this realization, one is faced with two choices: lack intelligence in a dignified way or lack intelligence in an undignified way.

If a scholar can manage to lack intelligence in a dignified way, said scholar is generally given greater latitude when s/he chimes in on an issue within the realm of her/his expertise. This is not always the case; there are prickly personalities in every field.  But, in general, professionals know that they exist within a world of relationships.  They are not anonymous defenders of truth in cyberspace.  They are not hermit-gurus living beyond the borders of society.  They have to mill around conference book rooms wearing name tags.  Academia is a relatively small village so we learn to defer to others with more expertise much of the time. And we don't say things like this:
Your friend, Dr. Paul needs to meet Jesus, develop a healed and forgiven relationship with Him and then choose something more profitable to do with his mind.
I fear that, "Get away from Me. I never knew you," is looming large in the good Dr.'s future.
This is comment that was posted on Mike Bird's blog a few days ago.  It is one of hundreds of examples of banal arrogance that comes with the territory of theologically oriented blogging.  The ability to be unintelligent in a dignified way, to my mind, represents a discernible difference between professionals and your standard armchair theologian.  But isn't basic human decency a Christian virtue?

There seems to be a common myth (in the sense of falsehood) in the ether that education breeds elitism.  I have found the opposite to be true much of the time.