Skip to main content

tom and jerry -or- how i know what i know

last night at dinner, as part of our usual type of dinner conversations, jackson was explaining to us in detail the instrument of beheading known as a guillotine.  only he didn't know what it was called.  what he did know, however, was a great amount of detail regarding the workings of the death machine, including the way the rope was secured, the way the blade functioned, and the overall design.  i was intrigued that he knew so much about this, and was wondering why they had gone into such detail about this in 2nd grade.  so i thought i would applaud his attention to detail and obvious listening skills before proceeding to ask what was the context for learning all of this.  the conversation went something like this...
 
me: "wow!  you really know a great deal about guillotines.  that's amazing.  what are you studying in school that you are learning so much about them?" 
jack: we're not learning that in school.
me (genuinely surprised): oh.  well then, where did you learn all this about guillotines?
jack:  i saw it on tom and jerry.
 

he saw it on tom and jerry.  that's right.  everything my son knows about  capital punishment he learned from a needlessly violent cartoon from 1952.  

i could just wrap this up with some version of "kids say the darndest things" and hit the post button and be done with it.  except for one word that keeps bouncing around my head: 

epistemology.  it's basically the study of knowledge, or, at least in one way of looking at it: how we know what we know.   and jackson's little exercise in speaking authoritatively with his cartoon research fully leaned upon got me thinking about how i know what i know.  i mean, when i speak authoritatively, which i have been known to do, but in and out of pulpits, i suppose, what research am i leaning upon?  i sometimes wonder if, in the end, the greatest source of knowledge isn't our own experience.  i can read until i am blue in the face, and watch every movie about courage or character or conviction, but until i am forced to live through something that tests all three, i doubt i will have very much to say about any of it that is of any substance.  actually, i might have much to say, but it would be about as useful as trying to have a sword fight with a mouse, just a bunch of flailing about in empty air. 

"but this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us" 1 john 3:16

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#thoughtsandprayers

i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …

vote. and pray. but do not be afraid (the King is alive).

i'm not sure how many americans right now are feeling optimistic about the government.  i know i'm not.  in fact, while i didn't live through the civil war or anything, i have to think that faith in our elected leaders - indeed the whole system of electing them in the first place - is at one of its lowest points.  i just don't have a great deal of confidence in those individuals who have been elected, or in those who want to be.  i find myself slipping at times into what feels like a swamp of apathy: sinking, to be sure, but not sure that i care enough anymore to do much about it.  i see this attitude all around me: in conversations, on social media, and in popular culture.  perhaps there is no more clear indication of our nation's view of the government than this current election season, when we would teeter on electing liars and thieves, crooks and clowns. 

which is why i was so startled as i sat down to read psalm 72 this morning. as i read the ancient song, i…