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A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


What Do You Talk About?

I read years ago, when I was a boy, that regular conversation may be a measure of intelligence, and I think it is true.

Stupid people only talk about things; smarter people talk about people; intelligent people talk about ideas. Some people never rise above talking about their cars, their houses, their pets, their gardens. Others only talk about their neighbors, relatives, and friends. They get bored with ideas.

The brightest people I know will speak of these things but can shift easily from things and people to great and lofty ideas about God, truth, and morals. One of the blessings of my circle of friends in church and seminary is this very thing; ideas fascinate them.

But I do not think that conversation is an function of intelligence only; it also has to do with spiritual understanding. Those who reject the great doctrines of Scripture become obsessed with details of things and the failures of people. They miss the lofty and majestic sweep of the ideas of the Bible. Nicodemus was one of these, although a teacher in Israel. "How can a man be born when he is old?" he asked Jesus. To him, born meant born, so Jesus was talking nonsense about being born again.

I hope I am not a snob, but please, just a few sentences about how you fixed your car, repaired your deck, cute things your dog does, or your new appliances--they are of marginal interest to me. A few more sentences about your relatives, children, friends, and neighbors will provide some comic relief or let me know how to pray for you--but please no character assassination, please. I know enough meanness without having you tell all the dirt you know about the people you know. I am interested in some things about yourself, but mostly how you think, not about what you had for breakfast. Not just the troubles or successes you have had, but what you think about them, and what you have learned from them.

Anybody for a discussion on regeneration, the work of the Holy Ghost, or God's care and providence for his people? Or, you name the topic. What about capitalism vs. socialism, or the evils of public welfare systems, or the evils of using slander to govern the church? Hmmmm.

"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

Jesus said that. Solomon put it a bit differently: "For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity." (Ec 7:6) Lots of noise but only a flash of fire.

"The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked." (Pr 10:11)
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