One of the great myths of our day is the belief that education is the key to a better future. It’s not just that the words education and better are existentially assumed concepts, or that this is an epistemologically flattened out and reductive explanation of how the human mind works, that makes the mythology of this belief so predictably ill-conceived – but it is in how the implied subtext, openly suggests that if everyone would simply get there mind’s right – we’d all be better off . . . never mind that what defines having one’s mind right is a question left wide open to interpretation.
Such an approach views us as nothing more than programmable hardware, awaiting an operating system upgrade – because undoubtedly, bad data has somehow corrupted our current OS . . . making the more culturally acceptable good data uninstall-able. It is an idea solely predicated on the formula — when you control data input, you control functional output . . . as if human volition were a simple matter of overwriting a bit of errant code. But is this really the modus operandi of the human heart and mind?
I have a friend who is fond of pointing out that it only takes two documents to find out what somebody really believes – a check book and a calendar. People will tell you with impassioned detail what means the most to them – but just as often, where they put their time and money, will tell you a completely different story. But how can this be, if what we say and what we do, emerges from the same mind? Or is this just the cognitive dissonance of self-deception convincing us that the erratic nature of our actions will somehow catch up to the good intentions of our right thinking . . . eventually?
It is the fatal flaw of modernity to believe that placing mind over emotion will ever result in anything, other than a self-affirming conclusion – as if the wrangling of the human will into submission were an academic puzzle to be solved. But our hearts and minds, by design, are meant to work in concert. Passion in tandem with imagination are what drives the desire of the will. We were meant to have an inspired and creative mind that would act upon the impulse of what is beautiful and true. So it is no surprise that God would make his appeal to us, not in an impressive assemblage of incontrovertible facts . . . but rather, in the irresistible narrative of redemptive sacrifice.
So when I read Psalm 19, David’s beautiful opus declaring how overwhelming, is the knowledge of God, its beauty bursting at the seams of human description – I am filled with the desire to join in with David’s beseeching of God to “let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord” (Psalm 19:14). Because I want to have my will so profoundly altered, to have my heart and mind so preoccupied with God’s will, that my actions will become almost involuntarily in step with his will. Is this not the preeminent function (modus operandi) of our Christian faith?
Maybe we should have all been poets . . .