Last week I wrote about the need for prophets of different varieties. I focused on political prophets – those wise individuals who can see past party loyalty to tell others where things are headed.
Over the weekend I found others calling for something similar. E.J.Dionne, Jr, wrote a great piece asking where the faith leaders are.
What has happened to the religious intellectuals, the thinkers taken seriously by nonbelievers as well as believers?
It’s a good question. It’s also a bit limited in nature.
Where are the thinkers in society overall? They seem to be missing in our current age of rage, raw emotion, anger, and short attention spans.
Or maybe the thinkers are there, just as they have always been in society. Maybe it’s just that there is so much noise and distractions that we have a hard time hearing them through all the noise. Maybe it has to do with these voices no longer being being turned to because they provide no entertainment value or grab ratings for the moderation they offer. Maybe because thinking takes more than 30 seconds to accomplish.
We don’t live in an age in which thinking is valued. We value data and information, but rarely do we actually value processing of that information, patience in seeing things through to the end, contemplation, discernment. I don’t think this is a radical statement though. We live in the age of the instant – the instant communication, instant gratification, instant response, instant coverage, etc.
Thinking takes time. Some of the best thinkers took years to contemplate a problem before they came out with a solution or response. Taking time allows one to see past the immediate and instant to something much larger and long term. Sometimes an immediate action is required, but I’m willing to bet that this is not the majority of times. Often a much better solution can be found by sitting on the situation for a short time or longer.
So where are the thinkers? I think they are all around us actually. They are busy thinking, contemplating, and discerning situations in life. They know they can’t think and respond continuously. They are there. We just need to stop and listen to what they are saying instead of jumping to the next crisis or finding out what candidate x said about candidate y.
This week I challenge you – take some time to think, contemplate, and discern for a bit about something going on in life. Put your phone and computer down and just sit and think. Wonder what could be different. Then go and try some things out.