Hoarding: Admitting I Have A Problem

This looks like my perfect room. I might have a problem...
This looks like my perfect room. I might have a problem…

I went to the library to return two books. I returned with four. I have a grand total of 8 library books checked out in my name, all of which are for me. I woke up this morning and two of my free Coursera courses had started, bringing my grand total of active courses to four. When I was in college, four courses was the minimum requirement for being a full-time student. When I got my computer, I downloaded 43 books to the Kindle app on my computer in one sitting. One of my favorite pasttimes of a weekday workday is watching Australia’s Parliamentary Question Time and the 24 hour news channel on free tv.

It is time to admit that I have a problem. I have a problem with hoarding. Not things or possessions or trash or cats. I hoard knowledge in all its forms and it is time to examine that problem with an eye to fixing it.

The first step…

You might be wondering – is this really a problem? Are you bragging? Is this a backhanded way of making yourself look better? Is this going to be one of those “funny” posts where you’re not really funny? Why don’t you go back to talking about atheists? Can you at least try to be interesting?

Let me assure you, I will at least try to be interesting.

Our world is constantly calling out for more information. If you think about it, any job that anyone does – whether it is manual labor, a trade, a white collar job – requires more information be provided than was available the day before. For instance, my father worked as a finish carpenter for most of my childhood. His job was to go into a house and put the finishing touches on like door knobs, trim, moulding, and baseboards, as well as other odds and ends that make a building site look like a house. Not only did he have to do those tasks, he had to provide information to his supervisor about how much he got done, what problems he noticed, and when he thought he would complete all the houses in a given area of work.

Despite the blue collar nature of the work and people’s idea that it is not an information heavy job, my father used to provide a lot of information that was not available before he did his work. No matter what job someone days, information and the knowledge it relays is of utmost importance.

Ye know not…

If Jesus were a Game of Thrones character, he might be Ygritte
If Jesus were a Game of Thrones character, he might be Ygritte

More than ever in the history of the human race, knowledge is a commodity. As a writer, I understand this fact from a first hand experience as well as a study of it. Without information and knowledge, I’m out of a job. As a christian, however, I have a difficult time fully reconciling this focus on information with the messages of the Bible. Christ often told his disciples and followers that they did not know something or that they did not understand something he had said.

Christ often lingered over the fact that humanity did not know everything and that they could not know everything. In biblical times, this was true in the extreme. But in this modern age of the internet, we know so much more. In fact, sometimes I wonder if we know so much more than we did that we get a little full of our importance and omnipotence. And still Christ’s words ring in my ears: “Ye know not…”

The problem

I admit that I have a problem of hoarding knowledge and that it is not a christian thing. It is not a christian thing because it does not lend itself to humility or to dependence. My pride in my knowledge keeps me from relying on Christ. More importantly, it takes me away from belief.

You may wonder (if you’re still reading this) what I mean by that. For me personally, the more I know, the less likely I am to make up my mind about anything. Ignorance is bliss and certainty. You always know just enough to make up your mind and be comfortable with it. I, however, know enough to know that I do not know enough to be certain of anything. When it comes to religion, I have too many doubts to be comforted by its maxims, its pronouncements, and its claims to certainty.

The solution?

I seem to have two options when it comes to fixing this problem.

  1. I can ignore everything I have learned and settle back into the certainty of ignorance.
  2. I can acknowledge doubt and put it into its proper context, which is not to crumble faith, but to invite faith to strengthen itself.

As it stands right now, I can make no conclusion on which of these solutions will actually work or which one I will actually take. This (highly uninteresting) post was not one that ever could have a satisfactory conclusion. For me personally, this is an ongoing conundrum.

Before I end, I should note that ignorance in this context is not a pejorative (or at least not consciously a pejorative). I do not wish to imply that members of religions are ignorant in a bad way. Nor are all of them ignorant. Nor are all of them willfully ignorant. Nor is ignorance a necessity for being a member of any particular religion. And if after reading the entirety of this post, you got the sense that I meant any of these things by using the word “ignorance,” then it says more about me than it does anyone else.

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