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Writevotional: Where Are All The Thinkers?

Photo Courtesy: LoneCrone

The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” – Proverbs 21:5

What is more dangerous than a person carrying a weapon?

What is more powerful than the expensive supercomputer in the world?

What is more vigilant than the most tireless watchman if one taps into it?

Give up?

The mind.

The mind is most powerful supercomputer we have between our ears yet there is a burning question though.

Why don’t we tap into this source more? 

Thinking – the new crime?

When a regime wants to control the people, what is the modus operandi that they will take?  They will burn the books or feed them propaganda to change their thoughts to theirs.  This is how they can exercise an iron grip on the populace and control them effectively.

In America, the astute person can see that there is something horribly wrong with the public education system especially when you look at how the scores of students have pummelled to rock bottom levels.  When compared to other countries, America is barely a blip on the educational charts.

America told how to think, what to think, and why to think that way.  Don’t believe me.  You can turn on the mainstream media.  Look at how the news is shaped.  How many of us will take the time to distil the news to the facts?

I would dare say very little will be willing to engage in the mental wrestling required to extract truth.  If one dares to speak out with counter thoughts or question the norm, we would be ostracized or called a ‘conspiracy theorist’ at least.

Why thinking is sorely needed today

Have you ever heard of the term ‘thought-leader?’ 

This is a person who thoughts are ahead of the times that they live in. 

They present arguments that counter the collective mentality (or sheep mentality).  They are willing to explore the arguments through creative dialogue and debate in a gentlemanly manner to find the truth.

Thought-leaders of great renown were willing to go against the colossal machines of settled thought and dismantle them with effectiveness.

Examples from the Bible:

1)    Joshua and Caleb who dared to challenge the fearful thoughts of the Israelites because of the giants in the valley they spied out.  Joshua and Caleb saw that they could still defeat them because God was more powerful. – Numbers 13

2)    David, the shepherd king, who challenged the thoughts of the Israelites who only saw defeat when they stared in the cold bloodthirsty eyes of Goliath. – 1 Samuel 17

3)    Jesus Christ who challenged about the rancid thoughts of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes on many occasions.  They thought works and keeping the law could bring them salvation.  Christ pointed to believing in Him for salvation. – All Gospel accounts

These thought-leaders turned the naysayers’ thoughts inside out and compelled them to think.  How would you like become a thought-leader?

How a classical self-education can help with this

In the above Scripture, the thoughts of the diligent are plenteousness (Hebrew word is Mowthar which means pre-eminence, abundance, profit, superiority).  What a beautiful picture.  How would you like become one of the diligent that thinks bigger, broader, and more creatively?

The key to unlock the thinking part of your mind may be found in a book that I discovered over the weekend.  I knew that I wanted to go up another level in personal growth yet I felt that I still wasn’t gaining enough ground.

I would read personal growth books and ended up feeling like Mario from Super Mario Brothers (“Sorry, the Princess is in another castle.”).  When I found this gem of a book, I think this may be one of the books to help change all of that.

A h3roic book to check out

I was in our local library on the 2nd level.  On this level, the shelves have a section dedicated to geeky stuff like computers and the like.  By divine providence, I went over to look at what they had and I spied a few books on improving your reading skills.

Readers are leaders” is the mantra in the self-help movement and there is a lot of truth to this statement.  We as writers and bloggers need to consume quantities of books to learn from other scribes and improve our craft.

Here is my frustration. 

I have a lot of books that I want to place on my plate and devour yet I go through them slowly.  I knew I needed an edge and looked into the speed reading as a viable option.  While I was looking for speed reading material, a book started to glow with a faint green pulsing flash (yes, I am embellishing). 

I pick up the book and thus begin my new journey as a h3ro.

The book is called “The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had” by Susan Wise Bauer.

From the inside jacket:

The Well-Educated Mind offers brief, entertaining histories of five literary genres – fiction, autobiography, history, drama, and poetry – accompanied by detailed instructions on how to read each type.  The annotated lists of the end of each chapter- ranging from Cervantes to A.S.Byatt, Herodotus to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich-preview recommended reading and encourage readers to make vital connections between ancient traditions and contemporary writing.

The Well-Educated Mind reassures those readers who worry that they read to slowly or with below-average comprehension.  If you can understand a daily newspaper, there’s no reason you can’t read and enjoy Shakespeare’s sonnets or Jane Eyre.  But no one should attempt to tread the “Great Books” without a guide and a plan.  Bauer will show you how to allocate time to reading on a regular basic; how to master a difficult argument; how to make personal and literary judgments about what you read; how to appreciate the resonant links among texts within a genre – what does Anna Karenina owe to Madam Bovary? – and also between genres.  Followed carefully, the advice in The Well-Educated Mind will restore and expand the pleasure of the written word.

The author teaches how anyone can begin the journey to a classical education where a person can use their mind more than a hat rack.  Instead, one can self-educate themselves through the classics to become one of more refined thought and focus.  The difference between a light beam and a laser beam.

She proposes reading the classics for 30 minutes a day for four times a week.  (So easy, a caveman can do it!).  She even states the importance of journaling your thoughts about what you read and really deeply thinking about the material (no more bird eye’s viewing material yet more of drilling down into the material to discover the nuggets there). 

This book is especially helpful for those who know the rising costs of college and the lack of education you may have received from public schooling.  I refrain my tirade on the American public school system.   You can contact me personally if you want my views privately.

Imagine you having the ability to smell rhetoric that spews out of media establishments, leaders, or politicians.  Imagine challenging the arguments you hear (especially those who use weasel words) and dismantle the points through logic.  Imagine strengthening your writing skills because you are well-read and well-trained.

I know this will be hard work (notice Proverbs 21:5 says “the thoughts of the diligent” and not “the thoughts of the couch potato”) yet anything worth its weight of gold is worth the blood, sweat, and tears.  If all the benefits of a classical education are worth the price of admission, then I am willing to buy my ticket and go.

Are you with me?

So what do you think?

What are some more ways a classical education be useful in today’s culture and in your writing/blogging?

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4 thoughts on “Writevotional: Where Are All The Thinkers?

  1. I’d say another important component of classical education is to study in multiple disciplines. Leonardo Da Vinci wasn’t just an artist, but an engineer, mathematician, botanist… among other things. A real Renaissance Man.

    I find the education system (at least in Canada) is very driven towards specialization rather than a broad track. The broadness helps give you different perspectives to examine the world by.

    Education is important.

    • Theresa, you are right on mark. The author Susan Wise Bauer said this eloquently about the goal of classical education on page 36:

      “The goal of classical self-education is this: not merely to ‘stuff’ facts into your head, but to understand them. Incorporate them into your mental framework. Reflect on their meaning for the infernal life.”

      Now THAT’S a real education.

  2. Interesting book recommendation. Thanks for mentioning it. 🙂

    I think one reason to have a classical education is that you’ll develop a sense of what’s been done before–which is important if you aim to be even a little bit original in your writing. It also allows you to make allusions to things, be it overtly or subtly. People subconsciously build upon the past, and it is because of this history that others are able to relate to what you write.

    If I wanted to even marginally base a religious and/or magic system off Greek mythology, for example, I’d really have to know something about that first before diving in. Getting familiar with some of the classical texts, both fictional and non-fictional, on the matter would be a great help because you could then see how it was presented as a matter of fact and fiction. You’ll be able to emulate or imitate this in your writing to help create a convincing mythology.

    Also, I think that journaling your reading experiences is a really good idea. I find that if you can write easily about a subject then it’s a good indicator that you may understand it. Because if you don’t, you immediately encounter writer’s block and figure out where there are holes in your understanding. You can use this knowledge direct future readings accordingly, using your time in a way that best compliments the goals you wish to accomplish as a writer.

    I don’t consider myself to be particularly well-read at this point (that I’ll always be working towards), though I can say that everything I’ve read in the past few years has contributed to my ability to work through my current novel.

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