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Artist, Teacher, Blogger concerned with American culture, its effect on faith and how Christianity effects American culture, specifically, what the word "christian" means to Americans today.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Do We Really Want To Be Sophisticated?



When I was in my early 20's I worked as supervisor at B. Dalton Booksellers in Redondo Beach, CA. I enjoyed the job, because I got to be around books, something I truly love. That year, Word For The Day calendars were all the rage. We sold many of them at the bookstore and I had one on my desk. One morning when I came in to open up the store, I tore off the previous day's date/word and found a word I had never seen before. “Sophist”, as defined by the Merrian-Webster dictionary is one who uses“subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation”. However the definition I saw that day was much stronger. It was “one who forms arguments or reasoning based on false knowledge”. That last phrase false knowledge, struck me in my gut and shook me to my core. I had never before read words that had such a powerful and jolting impact on me. I actually experienced fear when I read them.

This experience immediately led me to the dictionary where I looked up the word and discovered that Sophist shared the same root word as sophistication, which is defined by Merrian-Webster's Dictionary as, “sophistic reasoning; the process or result of becoming cultured, knowledgeable, or disillusioned....” Another definitions given by the Free Online Dictionary is, “to make impure; adulterate. “ I decided at that very moment that I NEVER wanted to be sophisticated and to this day, it is a word I rarely use.

There are some good uses for the word... say for instance, in design. A sophisticated interior design can deceive the eye into believing a room is bigger or brighter or taller than it actually is. A sophisticated use of color can manipulate the emotions of a viewer, causing them to be calmer, or happier or more energized than they previously were. In both cases, the deception can be beneficial because it can make a person happier with what they have...until they get what they really what... a larger house/room with better light and a genuinely improved mood. But sophistication is never any substitute for the real thing, which is why in life, with people, it never works. And that's why I made a vow never to be sophisticated. I never wanted to deceive anyone into believing I was something that I wasn't and I always try to be truthful, because nothing of value is ever built on a lie.

Now as simple as this way of being may seem to be, it has actually gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years, and from some really unexpected sources. Not just because I have said things or asked questions people didn't want to deal with, but because I expected others to live by the same credo. Big mistake. To my amazement, it seems that some people want to be deceived. In recent years I have found it increasingly more difficult to find individuals who appreciate and seek truth, who are honest and forthright, but fortunately, I know one who is.

In 1John 5:6-7 it says that “... the Spirit (The Holy Spirit) is truth” and that the Godhead , “the Father, the Word (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit, are one.” I never have to second guess God's leading, or his word, or his love for me. He tells me that He will never leave nor forsake me (Heb. 13:5), and that He will teach me all things (Jn. 14:26) and write His law in my heart (Heb. 8:10), and He has.

So whenever people or society want me to be more sophisticated, I think back on that little slip of paper with the word Sophist written on it and what that really means, I and align myself with the Spirit of Truth, who is Truth and thank God He's allowed me to keep my vow of never being sophisticated.
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