Category Archives: learning
Mary Flannery O’Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) was an American writer and essayist.
“The high school English teacher will be fulfilling his responsibility if he furnishes the student a guided opportunity, through the best writing of the past, to come, in time, to an understanding of the best writing of the present. He will teach literature, not social studies or little lessons in democracy or the customs of many lands.
“And if the student finds that this is not to his taste? Well, that is regrettable. Most regrettable. His taste should not be consulted; it is being formed.”
(from Flannery O’Connor’s “Total Effect and the Eighth Grade,” published in The Georgia Bulletin in 1963, reprinted in Mystery and Manners)
Are you allowing God the Holy Spirit to form your tastes?
The American humorist Will Rogers once said, “Everything is ignorant — only in different subjects.” You would expect an educator to say this, but I am appalled at how little many Christians know of their faith. It’s one of the reasons I love to teach the doctrines of the Christian faith. When we know what we believe, we can enjoy God and His will for us.
I love the quote that says, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” Most of us need to pray that God the Holy Spirit would make us curious for the truths of God — and then dig in for ourselves!
Can we talk? For some of us, studying/learning does not come naturally. We look for any excuse we can find to let others do our thinking for us. We might resent anything that seems like homework — and to take notes in church?! (It wouldn’t even occur to us).
But what if we looked at the local church, not as a social club for saints, but as an educational environment for redeemed sinners who have a lot to learn? Here are five suggestions I have to encourage and produce learning-committed believers:
1. Encourage discussion of sermons and Sunday school lessons.
2. Take notes during your pastor’s messages — and even ask him questions (polite ones!) after the service.
3. Have your spiritual leaders (= “elders”) read and report on important books for the congregation to also read (or stay away from!).
4. Occasionally, have a debate on a controversial topic on which Christians are divided. We once had a debate in our Bible college on Calvinism versus Arminianism. I would recommend that the strongest Calvinist in your church ought to defend the Arminian side and the most ardent Arminian defend the Calvinist side! That way it is not a debate of personalities, but of issues. Other matters that could be debated would be: divorce, spiritual gifts, just war vs. pacifism, immigration, gay marriage, etc.
5. Grow in your own ability to think through the implications of the Christian faith. I have my students read what I call “books that boil your blood before you get past the preface.” This is not for new believers, but for those who have been saved for a while. Have them read books that raise questions for which we Christians must have answers!
Flannery O’Connor once said, “The high-school English teacher will be fulfilling his responsibility if he furnishes the student a guided opportunity, through the best writing of the past, to come, in time, to an understanding of the best writing of the present. And if the student finds that this is not to his taste? Well, that is regrettable. Most regrettable. His taste should not be consulted; it is being formed.”
Most of us don’t know what we don’t know. And we also often don’t know what we need to know. The Bible says that the beginning of wisdom is knowing the Lord. And that’s a class none of us dare skip!
1. What have you been studying recently, especially in the Word of God?
2. Study is not a mysterious gift of the gods, but the diligent application of attention and energy to a subject. What subjects should the church be giving more attention to?