We had an Episcopal priest over to dinner the other night, his wife had grown up in the house we bought and we thought it would be fun to invite her over to see where she lived as a little girl. As she walked around we talked about how our perspectives change as we get older, the retaining walls seemed much higher, and the basement was much scarier for instance. It was fun to just watch as she wandered around the house, remembering holidays past and other things. She brought with her some pictures taken during the time she lived here and shared those with us.
We sat down to dinner, some pork chops, zucchini fritters, and sweet potatoe apple in a maple glaze, and Missy says it was all very well done. During dinner the priest revealed that he was no longer a parish priest and was working on a project with Matthew Fox, a renown heretic, on the transference of wisdom. How to pass wisdom from one person to another, and from one generation to another. Missy pressed him several times for “wisdom” and he never did answer. We discussed several of the mediums used today, including books, documentaries, YouTube, Twitter, and so on. It was captivating at the moment, wonderful dinner conversation.
But when I thought about it for a while it occurred to me there is nothing sexy about wisdom and it’s transference. There is nothing sexy about living your life as well as you can live it, by the rules you agreed to abide. But it is sexy to be relevant, to be noticed. You know like saying outrageous things that are amplified by your office or your orders. A Matthew Fox is just one in a two thousand-year line of theologians if he subscribes to the tenants he said he did when he took his vows to the Dominicans. But once he has the collar and the office he is noticed when he says outrageous things about theology. I feel like this priest was taken in by the vanity of the attention bestowed on a heretic. Kind of like when there is a “bad” kid in your fourth grade class, most of the kids are scared of him so it is cool to be friends with him, it gets you noticed.
So, is it better to be wise or relevant? I say wise because you never know who is watching. People emulate other people, especially kids and their parents. So if you work hard, give thanks for what you have earned, do the right thing even when you don’t think anybody is watching you arent’ going to get a lot of attention from the world. If you throw blood on people wearing fur, or use the bathroom on police cars, blow up ROTC buildings then you get noticed, but the ugly little irony is that it is for your actions and not your “wisdom”. Yeah, it is way sexier to be relevant because it is instant gratification, but I think at the end of the day being wise is better than you can know. We are told some of us sow and some of us reap, being wise is a way of sowing.