By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Not All That Glitters Is Gold

The earliest portrait of Saint Augustine in a ...Image via Wikipedia
That is a well-known mashal or proverb from our Anglo-American culture. It reminds us that skills are many, skills can be very useful, skills can be impressive--but they can also be beside the point if they do not lead to wisdom. Here is an excerpt from a movie review in which the lead character in the movie is a writer who takes some kind of drug in order to overcome his writer's block. The drug supposedly helps him use more of his brain capacity, but to no ultimately worthwhile end:

The expansion of Eddie’s mental capacity does not lead to any corresponding growth in wisdom or imagination. Quite the contrary: the more clearly and quickly he thinks, the shallower he becomes. To be sure, he learns to play the piano and picks up fluency in a smattering of foreign languages and high-flown cultural idioms, but these skills are mostly useful in getting women to sleep with him. And the cultural knowledge that is most handy comes from the kung fu movies and boxing matches he suddenly remembers from childhood when he is attacked by a bunch of thugs on a subway platform one night.


Source link (emphasis added).


There are even many intellectuals and scholars, prodigies of knowledge and memory, who have ended up in a dead end. There must be many Mensa members who are just spinning their wheels. The Hebrew Bible tells us to "get wisdom," not just skills to show off and to impress others who are not worth impressing. 


Similarly, Augustine spoke about two kinds of communities: those bound by love for something ultimately unworthy (the "Earthly City") and the community bound by love of God (the "City of God"). Both form communities, both are similar in certain respects, but there is a qualitative chasm between the two cities, as there is a qualitative chasm on the individual level between mere skills and wisdom.


The New Testament presents Christ as the "wisdom of God."  Give it a shot.