The Chair and the Desk, 4/14/16

From the chair:

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” 

-1 Corinthians 3:18

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I probably should not have checked my email first thing. I was frustrated by a couple things that are in the works, and they weighed on my mind through reading the Psalms, through making coffee, through eating Honey Bunches of Oats. It wasn’t until this sentence, in the last paragraph of my last passage for the morning that something broke through to me and said, “Snap out of it.”

Now, I’ve done nothing to address the situation, so in a sense I’m still frustrated, but the heat of my frustration came from my assurance that I am the wise one here. I’m the one who understands. I’m the one who cares. I’m the one who knows what to do. I’m the wise one here. This passage reminded me that even if I’m “right,” with that attitude, I’m wrong. I might have a good plan, but I’m not the only one who understands, cares, and knows what to do. If I think I’m the greatest thing on two legs, I am, invariably, mistaken. Until I get over myself, I’m going to keep bumbling around all wrong, upset and inflated.

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’ So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

From the desk:

“Here, I think, we are touching on one of the forms—perhaps we should call them habits—one of the most harmful habits in contemporary thought, in modern thought even; at any rate, in post-Hegelian thought: the analysis of the present as being precisely, in history, a present of rupture, or of high point, or of completion or of a returning dawn, etc. The solemnity with which everyone who engages in philosophical discourse reflects on his own time strikes me as a flaw. I can say so all the more firmly since it is something I have done myself; and since, in someone like Nietzsche, we find the incessantly—or, at least, insistently enough. I think we should have the modesty to say to ourselves that, on the one hand, the time we live in is not the unique or fundamental or irruptive point in history where everything is completed and begun again. We must also have the modesty to say, on the other hand, that—even without this solemnity—the time we live in is very interesting; it needs to be analyzed and broken down, and that we would do well to ask ourselves, ‘What is the nature of our present?’ I wonder if one of the great roles of philosophical thought since the Kantian ‘Was ist Aufklärung?’ might not be characterized by saying that the task of philosophy is to describe the nature of the present, and of ‘ourselves in the present.’ With the proviso that we do not allow ourselves the facile, rather theatrical declaration that this moment in which we exist is one of total perdition, in the abyss of darkness, or a triumphant daybreak, etc. It is a time like any other, or rather, a time which is never quite like any other.”

-Michel Foucalt, “Critical Theory/Intellectual History” in Critique and Power (ed. Michael Kelly, MIT, 1995), p.126

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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