Monday, July 13, 2009

Knowledge Used Well = Time Well Spent

Have you ever noticed how some really smart people often used their gifts for rather unimportant things? Maybe they collect useless information simply to know more than you or maybe they are very intelligent but they waste their time learning about something that just doesn't matter. I think this is a tragic waste.
To me information falls into three categories: (1) party trivia, (2) good-to-know-but-not-really-important, (3) and important. Party trivia would include things like knowing every Best Picture winner for the past twenty years, or knowing the number of every basketball player. Basically it serves no real purpose other than to entertain and fill up our pride-o-meters.
The second category is information that you learn in school - geography, math, reading, etc... Information that will serve you well in this life but when it comes to the next life, maybe isn't too important.
And then you have the important information. I won't try and narrow this category down but what I mean by it is any information that makes you a better person and draws you closer to Christ. But be careful, because it isn't just about the obtaining of this knowledge but also the using of it. Important information would include things like knowledge of your faith or the ability to understand and help others.
What is the point of knowledge if not to share it and make the world, and the people in it, better? I remember reading once that Chesterton was considered by many to be "absentminded" because of the little things he either would forget or just didn't know. But he wasn't really absentminded, he had his mind in perfectly the right place. If it was truly important, that is, important to his soul, he would care about it. But something like his address, while it may be good to know, really isn't important in the long run. I'm not saying that we should ignore certain subjects in school or not try to gather as much information as possible, but when it comes down to it, wouldn't it be more beneficial if we spent our time and energy on the important things in life? We do also need to have entertainment in our lives but entertainment should not take up all of our time. Be careful what books you read, or what movies or television shows you watch. If we are to live a truly Christ-centered life I imagine that we all have many things we should cut out.
At the day of Judgment God isn't going to ask us what the square root of 73 is, but we will be held accountable for what we did in this life. If we made no attempt to better ourselves, to follow Christ, or to draw others to Him, what were we doing?


Sara said...

Marcus, see this webpage for 'Students of Faith' survey:

They are trying to come up with a list of universities that promote the faith. You'd be a good one to fill it out and maybe pass it on to friends.

Marcus Toft said...

Awesome! Thanks for the link, I filled out the form last night. I'll be sure to pass it along as well.

Matthew said...

Actually, why do we NEED entertainment?

Marcus Toft said...

Good catch Matthew, I think what I should have said is leisure, not entertainment.

Matthew said...

There is a major difference between the two though isn't there? It isn't just a matter of language but of the reality which the words refer to. Why do we need leisure and not entertainment?

Marcus Toft said...

Well, I'll be honest Matthew, I just got Josef Pieper's book "Leisure: the basis of culture" but I haven't had a chance to read it. From what I understand though, his reasoning on the importance of leisure is that it is during such times, breaks from work, that we have the time to contemplate God. Entertainment tends to be a sort of assault on our senses, at least it often takes that form. It isn't necessarily a time for silence, I don't think most people would say they are entertained by silence. But in our lives we need those quiet times, times to step away from our busy lives and hear the voice of God. As our world and our lives become filled with more and more distractions, and consequently, more and more noise, we stop not only hearing God's voice, but even listening for it. So I guess I would say, the difference between leisure and entertainment is that leisure, though maybe more passive in physical activity, is more active mentally and spiritually. Entertainment on the other hand tends to be passive physically and very often mentally, it is merely something to keep us occupied. Entertainment does not help us grow.