I want YOU to tell me
by Jason Wisdom
I recently taught a 3 part series on the doctrine of the Trinity at our church. At the end of one session, a woman approached me and ask my thoughts on another difficult issue (the specific topic is not important for my purpose here). Of course, I knew that I couldn’t spend an hour hashing out all of the particulars with her right then and there. It was 8:30pm, almost everyone had already left, and my wife was chasing my 2 year old son around the room. That is the universal signal to a husband that it’s time to go. So I did my best to give a short answer, and then added “But since we don’t have much time now, I have some excellent resources that I could send you if you are interested in digging deeper into this topic.” I added, “I could email you links to some great articles/videos, and even suggest an excellent book or two on the matter.” She gave me a bit of a puzzled look. “Oh that’s okay,” she said, “I would rather hear it from you, maybe we can talk about it some next week. Thank you for a great class.” With that she smiled, and we parted ways.
On the one hand, it was quite flattering. She was more interested in my response than what the experts have to say. However, it was also somewhat troubling. Did she just want the answers spoon-fed to her? Was it not important enough to her that she could do a little bit of legwork on her own? I bounced both of these around in my head for a few days, and then I realized that it is probably something else entirely. I doubt that she actually expected my answer to be qualitatively better than the experts. And I don’t think that she was being intellectually lazy. I think she simply wanted to get the answer in “real life.” She wanted to see what it looks like “in the flesh.” What do I mean by that? I mean that sometimes we can experience a certain level of detachment from the things we read or watch, particularly online. I think she wanted to hear it from me because there was a measure of reality there that she feared she wouldn’t be able to get from an article or book, no matter how profound it may be. Our culture has shifted, at least in small part, away from “just give me the facts,” to “does this really work in real life?”
As someone who absolutely loves to read, blog, watch videos, and listen to podcasts, it would be easy for me to miss this important insight…
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