During the course of my research I often found myself in awe of the intellect of the great minds of history: in awe of the capacity to make magnificent leaps, connecting dots that to regular folk like me might as well as be in different galaxies. That capacity, to do such things, is something special, which goes far beyond mere knowledge. That capacity is of course Wisdom, and I write it with a capital “W” as I think it sacred, in the sense that it transcends biology–it represents more than the sum of its parts, and as such, is not of the natural, material world; rather, it is of the supranatural world.
Wisdom is specific to humankind whereas knowledge is not. B.F. Skinner documented that rats could learn to pull a lever in order to receive a reward–the rat knew that if it pulled the tiny lever, there would potentially be a reward. The ruby-throated hummingbird knows to fly south for the winter, and back north for the summer. My dear deceased black lab knew to ring a bell on the doorknob when she wanted to go out. Dolphins in captivity know to respond to positive reinforcement by jumping through hoops, bouncing balls off their noses and tail-walking across the water’s surface. But; if asked to list examples of Wisdom in the animal kindom, other than humankind–that, I cannot do.
Wisdom is Archimedes in the bathtub when he has his “eureka” moment and realizes the principle of displacement. Wisdom is Einstein sitting at his desk in the patent office, looking out the window at the train station, when he has his “happiest thought” and realizes relativity. Wisdom is Newton, outside, under a blue sky, when an apple falls from a tree, and the world changes, at that precise moment, never to be the same, because of the Wisdom of that one beautiful mind.
Wisdom is special. Wisdom is unique to man. Wisdom is holy. In fact, as a good Catholic, or at least as a good student of the parochial school system, or at least as a good memorizing member of the parochial school religion class; I know that Wisdom is the first of seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; and that it holds a position of reverence not only in the Christian faith, but also across all faiths.
Wisdom is not of the material world. It cannot be accounted for, or explained away as a byproduct of electrical neuro-chemical activity of the human brain. Wherefore, then, does it come from?
From Him. Our corporeal body is of the dust, the same dust of all the other animals. It is Wisdom that is in His image, and of the eternal world that exists outside of space-time, as defined by St. Augustine.
I’d like to thank Relevant Radio, Dave Zelzer, and Wendy Weise for allowing me to discuss the aspects of weight-loss and emotional health as presented in The Relativity Diet. I hope that what I shared was meaningful and of use to the listening audience. As is usually the case with me, there are things I’d wished I’d said that I didn’t; but’s that life as they say; or, that’s the way the pickle squirts, as my Grandma Melarvie used to say.
Also, I am thankful for the fact that Julianne Donlon-Stanz managed to “speed read” my book in less than a day, and thought it significant enough to introduce me to Relevant Radio. And I am thankful that our son, Eric, came back home to us after being gone seventeen years (in the desert so to speak), went back to school, met Wayne in class, and invited him over to look at some trees, which is where his wife, Julianne, happened upon my book. Strange how life works. I wonder what Grandma would think about that?
I’ve posted the link to the interview on the “Listen to Radio Interviews” page, which is on the navigation bar at the top of this page.
In his book The Everlasting Man, GK Chesterton wrote; fortunately for me, on page 34, because I’ve yet to push past page 100:
“Art is the signature of man.”
He makes the point that man stands alone, above all else; as special, supernatural, the very image of God:
“Man is the microcosm; man is the measure of all things; man is the image of God.” (pg. 35, thank goodness)
He uses art as his argument for that. From the beginning of time, man has had the awareness, the desire, and the need to express himself if for no other reason than to externalize his within on the without. Evidence of this is the art of the caveman (or cave-lady): do you think he or she painted with colored clays and water on the wall of a musty cave in 10,000 BC so that a young boy in France could discover it, and GK Chesterton expound upon it, in 2000 AD; and I could blog about it in 2100 AD? Of course not; it was done because of the human essence–that what religion calls soul; what de Chardin refers to as the within, meaning consciousness.It is from de Chardin that I also borrowed the without, which is a term he coined to refer to the material, physical world.
I’ve spent hours watching apes and monkeys at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE with my granddaughters. Never once did I see a pattern scratched into the dirt with a stick. I did see some excrement smeared on a stone, but failed to discern a particularly pretty pattern or design.
I’ve spent hours SCUBA diving under the sea. As intelligent as the Cetacean are reputed to be, never once did I see an exhibit of dolphin-art, whatever that might be—nay, not even a dolphin-collection of pretty shells.
I live in the country, kind of, at least enough so that I often see animals, large and small. Never once have I observed a deer gazing west towards the sun’s settling rays, spell-bound by the beauty of the colors thrust heavenward.
The agnostic and the atheist would say that man is an animal, only special in the sense of having evolved to a higher level of function, but an animal nonetheless–we’re born, we thrash around a bit, we die, end of story says they. On the contrary, both Chesterton and de Chardin make eloquent cases for the exceptionalism of man in The Everlasting Man and The Phenomenon of Man, respectively. We are special. You are special. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
It occurred to me today, on Easter Sunday, that I do my best thinking before going to sleep, after awaking from sleep, and on my knees—in church; because when you’re on your knees in church it’s about nothing new; it’s all stuff you’ve heard a million times before. I don’t mean to subtract from its significance, in fact, it’s the most significant portion of mass, that being the consecration; but, it is familiar and my mind does tend to wander, transiently snapping back for the this is my body, this is my blood parts (honest, Father).
I was back where it started, in a pew, if not the same pew, that I first thought of the first pillar of The Relativity Diet, emotional health. What I’ve come to realize is that the more I discovered, the more I read about our universe; its origin, the sub-atomic particles of which it is comprised, and the universal laws and constants that allow its existence, the more I came to believe in a Supreme Being. It’s not that I didn’t before; it’s just that I believe it more.
I know that others experience the opposite, and I can’t explain that other than the atheist’s belief in the absence of a Supreme Being is as much of a religion as is the religion of God for the simple reason that they can no more prove that He is not there than I can that He is. It therefore boils down to faith; either a faith in the god of No-God, or a faith in God. So, take your pick.
To prove to Father Carl that I actually pay attention in church, I’m going to use a sermon given by Fr. John Guthrie at the church of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, N.D. as an analogy. I was in town for the funeral of my wife’s sister, and quite out of form, I actually attended mass twice that day—a funeral mass at 11 am, and an earlier 8 am mass given by Fr. Guthrie. Why did I go to church twice that day, you ask? Am I on the fast track to canonization, perhaps you might wonder? Sadly, no; my motivation was merely for the pleasure of hearing, and seeing, Fr. Guthrie with whom I graduated from high school exactly thirty years previous.
The good Father’s sermon was on the Imitation of Christ. I wish that I could insert a podcast for you to listen to; instead, you’ll need to endure my inept summarization. Fr. Guthrie spoke about the goal of approaching Christian perfection by becoming like Christ. He made the point that this is not something you pray for—it’s not something that can be given to you; it’s something that you have to give yourself; and you do that by acting like Christ. It is only by performing actions that Christ would perform, or thinking thoughts that are Christ-like; only then, will you become like Christ and approach the ideal of Christian perfection, understanding that it can only be fully realized in the life-after-life.
Now, I’m about as far from perfection as the Andromeda galaxy is from planet earth; I understand that—I get it; but, Fr. Guthrie’s sermon is completely analogous to the entire thrust of my first pillar of emotional health of The Relativity Diet. Emotional health is not something that is given to you; it’s something that you have to give yourself; and you do that by your thoughts and actions. It is by exercising the universal proof of the existence of free will, which I make in my book, that you will move towards a higher state of emotional health, and approach the perfection of Happiness. In effect, it is only in acting emotionally healthy; by performing positive actions, and by thinking positive thoughts; that you will become emotionally healthy. This is the deductive argument I make. You can pray for emotional health all day long, but in the end, you must give it to yourself–by the grace of God within; and by engaging in an active participation with the universe over a passive one.
Thanks for listening :^)