Ignorance is Bliss (Repost)

April 26, 2014 — 7 Comments

There are days when I long for ignorance. The problem is, you can’t go back to the land of ignorance. You can only remain there. Once you leave your homeland, any attempt to return is willful ignorance, and you actually end up in the land of denial. Both lands can seem blissful, but denial requires more stupidity. Ignorance is Bliss - Calvin off cliff

I’m not sure I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t think some other person or some other group of people is ignorant. And that’s just the thing. No one thinks of themselves as ignorant. It’s always someone else. And besides, how would you know you’re ignorant? The only way you might know that you don’t know is if humility pumps through your veins. If it doesn’t, then you have your answer. Pride may be the greatest proof of ignorance.

I’m finding that as I gain understanding, my longing for ignorance increases. Why? Read the words of this wise old man:

Call me “the Quester.” I’ve been king over Israel in Jerusalem. I looked most carefully into everything, searched out all that is done on this earth. And let me tell you, there’s not much to write home about. God hasn’t made it easy for us. I’ve seen it all and it’s nothing but smoke—smoke, and spitting into the wind.

Life’s a corkscrew that can’t be straightened,
A minus that won’t add up.

I said to myself, “I know more and I’m wiser than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I’ve stockpiled wisdom and knowledge.” What I’ve finally concluded is that so-called wisdom and knowledge are mindless and witless—nothing but spitting into the wind.

Much learning earns you much trouble.
The more you know, the more you hurt.
~ Ecclesiastes 1:12-18

So stay ignorant, my friends. Try to maintain the illusion of bliss as long as you can:

One time Jesus was teaching some crazy stuff about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Many of his disciples responded: “Dude. This is gettin’ weird. I don’t think I can handle this.” So they turned away and left him. Jesus knew this would happen, but I have to imagine it still hurt to see people leave him, with no desire to gain understanding – to get to know him. So he turned to his 12 closest friends and said, “What about you guys, are you going to leave me too?

Calvin understanding & ignoranceNow, if I picture myself in that circumstance, this would likely be my response: “Well Jesus, if I’m being honest, I’m beginning to see that following you, and living the way you’re asking us to, goes against everything in me that desires a good, comfortable life. As I gain understanding, I see more and more difficulty. So yes, I do want to walk away. Far away. The problem is, the only place left to go is the land where the greatest of fools live, the land of denial. I know people that live there. Their misery is palpable. Their land is desolate. Hellish. They’re like the walking dead. They have grins on their faces, but I see no joy.

I’m no longer ignorant, at least not as much. Your way seems hard. Crushing. It’s the last thing I want to do. Yet, life seems to stir in me when I’m near you, when I follow you. I want blissful ignorance, but I’m too far gone for that. So really, where else do I have to go?”

Denial or difficulty, those are my choices. They often feel like the same choice. I want to yell! Shout! Cuss my fricken head off!

Howling one’s head off may actually be a more mature and realistic response to reality than the elaborate social skills of many adults. With the latter so frightfully focused on grinning and bearing their way through life, perhaps babies are the ones to whom God has entrusted the important work of doing the crying for the whole world. ~ Mike Mason

Yep, I can either enter the land of grinning bearers, or I can howl and walk the path that leads to life. I left the land of ignorance long ago. It’s too late for me. Wisdom has not finished shaping me, but I’m far enough down the road to see that there are no more exits for ignorance. No u-turns. No more mindless bliss for me. I now walk with the Man of Sorrows. And he’s not heading to denial.

Foolishness: Movement away from God that reveals a passion for self, a determination to find satisfaction in whatever the self can manage.
~ Larry Crabb in Fully Alive

How about you? Does it sound weird to long for ignorance? Or does it resonate?

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7 responses to Ignorance is Bliss (Repost)

  1. 

    Shon…. great blog. Never thought of following Jesus in this way before. I need to do more screaming! Tired of the Christian … “everything is wonderful”, smiles, but not much joy.

  2. 

    Shon – I chewed on this post this morning and what came to mind for me is that the more you know, the more you tend to worry more. The more you have, the more you worry. So, the more I know the more I need to rely on Christ and not worry, and if I could reverse it and be ignorant, life would be so much easier for me to run it myself in igno-land.

    Clear as mud… it should be.. that was my igno-rant for the day.

    Later Swanny

    • 

      I find that the more I know, the more I realize how utterly dependent on Christ I am. And His purpose isn’t to make my life comfortable – it’s to conform me into his perfect image. And that means that there’s a lot in me that has to die. And sometimes, that causes me to long for ignorance, because dying can be incredibly painful.

  3. 

    Yeah, I’ve certainly remembered that verse (18) in Ecclesiastes–I identify with it. I also like the Mike Mason quote.

  4. 
    paradoxunwound June 10, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I think the key to bliss is love. We can sometimes let past pain stop us from engaging ourselves. Instead, we can work through our past pain and still connect to life with the kind of openness we had when we were young. Wisdom and love are opposites which work for and against each other. It is wisdom that tells us that love hurts, but it is also wisdom that tells us to love anyway. Love that survives pain is a stronger and more fulfilling love.

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