Monday, April 2, 2012

The Thinking Few

By chance I came across a 'thought' provoking rhyme the other day.
It goes like this...

"Though man a thinking being is defined,
Few use the prerogative of mind,
How few think justly of the thinking few,
How many never think at all, who think they do!"

The author of this little poem is a woman named Jane Taylor. Not having heard of her before and being curious I did a little google search and found that she was an English poetess who died in 1824 at the age of 40 of breast cancer.
Surprisingly, every one of you would be able to quote readily for memory something she wrote ! "Twinkle, twinkle little star..." - so familiar yet is never credited to its creator Jane Taylor.

The 'thinking' poem has stuck in my mind because more and more I see that 'thinking' is becoming a prerogative of the past.
I read a great deal written by and about people of ages past and I am always struck by the contrast of depth of their thought to the writing of today. From an early age, learning/thinking was expected even of the very young. Sport/entertainment was not priority of those who wished to make something of their life. A boy of 13 was in university already fluent in Greek and Latin as well as other languages.

In our age has 'thinking' become to the mind what 'fast food' has become to our palates? Do we prefer 'others' do the preparation and we just swallow undiscerningly?

How much value is in the preparation?
I read the other day how 'time and obesity' is directly related. The question was asked, "How often would you eat French fries if you had to peal the potatoes, cut them up, soak them in ice water, heat the oil, and fry them?"
Often the more healthy the food, the more time/effort in the preparation. At the very least it must be purchased fresh and washed. To cook from 'scratch' takes much more time than to tear open a box or thaw a frozen entrée in the microwave.
When cooking from scratch, what heightens the enjoyment of the food is not just in the eating of it but also the handling of the ingredients, the awareness of blending flavours, the smells of cooking, and the building anticipation of tasting it. Also taking the time for presentation and table setting and fellowship around a table adds to the experience and resulting 'health' to the body and soul.
Is it the same with 'thinking' ?
Information, so quickly and easily accessible, floods our minds and like fast food addicts we quickly gulp on the run.

It has been shown that when information enters our brain , there is a small window of time that gives us the option to 'think' on this information and then store it to long term memory. If we do not stop to 'think' , the brain decides that the information is not important and treats it as 'trash' deleting it from our minds.

What hinders us from 'thinking' as in mulling information/concepts/ideas over in our minds, considering, meditating, absorbing , and storing in a way that makes it available to draw on when wisdom is called for?
I think the two biggest hindrances to the thought life are noise and busyness. Both are huge distractions and a drain on our energy. Then when we do finally have a moment to just 'sit' we reach for a remote or computer keys or some 'toy' of choice that our electronic world offers. We live in a world where 'quiet' has become uncomfortable to many. And thinking needs 'quiet'.

I see how this trend has also influenced how we do church.
Worship has taken on an emphasis of 'loud' and physically interactive leaving little room for encouraging reflective and spiritual thoughtfulness.
I see fewer and fewer people bring their bibles to church and often even those who do leave them lying unopened on the pew.
There is something that detracts from our ability to retain when scripture is flashed on an overhead screen rather than us reading it from the bible in our laps.
I also see that doctrine/theology is becoming a subject to avoid. What we believe is becoming something undefined and we rather feed on a 'fast food' diet of love and acceptance. Not that those are not important but 'home cooked' love has main ingredients of truth and time - both of which take the discipline of thought.

As Jane Taylor's clever rhyme states, God created man a thinking being.
So how important is it to think ?
The scriptures readily and clearly call man to think, to reason, to discern, to question and to test, to talk. No fast food offering from God.
We are called to be "transformed by the renewing of (our) mind, so that we can prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Rom. 12:2
The bible declares that thinking defines who we are .... "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" Prov. 23:7
David understood the need for solitude.... "Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still." Ps. 4:4b
The Hebrew word for meditate has in its meaning "to ponder, imagine, study".
The very first Psalm expresses the importance of meditating in our life. It declares that the one whose "DELIGHT is in the law of the Lord and who meditates therein day and night" is the man who is blesses in all his ways and in all he does !

As lack of exercise weakens the muscles of our body so also laziness weakens the most important muscle of our body - our brain - our mind needs a healthy active brain!
Exercise of body or mind takes discipline and will power! But the rewards are great!!
"Think on these things" Phillipians 4:8


ellen b. said...

I'm thinking on these things Julie and about that rhyme. This was good for me to usual.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Thinking! Wishing for more friends who not only think but are game to share and discuss what they are thinking about. I find at gatherings there are lots of folks willing to switch on a game, or make small talk about what other people (especially grandchildren!) are doing, and then two or three folks who huddle and exchange views on ideas.

Marg said...

Thank you Julie...You got me thinking and I am almost turned my office upside down looking for one Easter article that is reflective...You are so correct...we are thinking...but about what???

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Such a thought-provoking post, Julie! I'm thinking...on all these things. Thanks.

Anneliese said...

Julie, your reflections are always thougth provoking. I also have noticed that people are uncomfortable with silence, but I like how you go to scripture and show that silence is good. I am reminded of "Be still and know that I am God."

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful someone referred me to your blog.
These changes in church;

loud and physically interactive
overhead screen

are why I quit going to church. It's become more like entertainment than worship. I couldn't get quiet and still enough to know God.

Maria said...

This is fabulous Julie and as usual wonderfully thought provoking and right on the mark. I find it interesting when looking at the published dates for books that the ones written prior to the sixties are particularly well written, while many of those written after are rather "dumbed down" in comparison - and sad to say that I find them easier to read!! And Oh for more quiet! And deep and meaningful discussions....

betty r said...

Much to think on! I appreciate this post Julie, I'm going back to read it again.