I have been listening to Dallas Willard’s lectures about spiritual formation for a long time.  They are meaty, and I can’t get it all in one listening.  So I listen regularly.

Willard’s definition of knowledge:  “to know something is to be able to represent it as it is on an appropriate basis of thought and experience.”  He illustrates how one hopes a dentist, a cook, mechanic etc. hasn’t just studied books effectively but has been adequately apprenticed.

I thought of Calculus.  I made good marks, passed national exams, but I had no experience that made the thinking applicable or useful.  Since seeing Nathaniel’s beautiful creations with calculus equations, I have wished there was more thought left.  It’s all gone because my experiences did not intersect relevancy with Calculus.

As a parent, Willard’s definition was huge for me.  I tell a child to do something, and I expect it done.  But part of growing up is that my children vet my words through the lens of their experiences.  My experiences are different from theirs, so we do not have the same knowledge.

So together we create different thoughts and new experiences that bring us new knowledge.  If I hadn’t married an Irishman, there are many books about Irish history I probably never would have gotten around to reading, trip to family members in Ireland wouldn’t have happened, and I probably wouldn’t have a daughter who Irish dances.

A couple of years ago Caleb asked, “When my sister comes, will I be half-Haitian?”  Though our citizenships, past experiences, personal histories do not make us Haitian, I find that the children are eating new foods.  I’m reading Haitian history books.  We’re YouTubing Compas music, so we will never officially be half-Haitian, but our worlds are expanding.

Knowing God – in some areas I have thinking knowledge and in others I have teaching/experiential knowledge.  Hope to close the gap between what I know to be true and how I experience Christ in it.


One thought on “Knowledge

  1. Ellen, this really speaks to me. I have often though that kids just soak up everything as a huge big sponge and spend the rest of their lives trying to get concepts and experience to align, either consciously or unconsciously.


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