Saturday, February 11, 2006

Spiraling Toward Geekdom

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By no means am I ready to don a Federation uniform or pick up a phaser, but I fear I am spiraling slowly into Geekdom. There are many levels of geekdom. All of us qualify for geekhood in one category or another. There are the geeks who wait in line outside of movie theaters for days and days to be among the first to see the new science fiction flick. There are tech geeks who simply must have the newest, fastest and slickest hardware and the coolest software as soon as it becomes available. There are the geeks who sit with glasses taped together, comparing theorem proofs and physics experiments. There are geeks who could care less about the game, but live for the statistics. And of course there are geeks like Bill Gates who could buy and sell all of us in revenge for getting too many wedgies in high school.

My geekship came to light as I received a catalog called, "The Great Courses" which consists of recorded lectures in a classroom format. It's like going to grad school without the bills or the college credit. And I have to admit, it's appealing. The courses come delivered on DVD, VHS, CD or audio cassette. Anywhere from a handful to nearly 100 30-minute lectures are packaged and sent out for your learning pleasure. All for a bargain price.

I really enjoy learning. If it weren't for the cost, I'd start on my doctorate tomorrow. But it's not the degree which is alluring. I even skipped the ceremony when I recieved my Master's -- the attention didn't mean anything to me. It was the knowledge which I craved. I guess I still do.

Thumbing through the catalog, my attention turned first to the courses on religion. These are usually a disappointment unless the school is evangelical in nature. Otherwise you have to put up with liberal or secular scholars who can teach you about the opposing views, but little about your own. I noted that the courses on the New Testament, the Historical Jesus, the Canon and Early Christian History are taught by Bart D. Ehrman, who is certainly learned, but not exactly an adherant to the inerrancy of Scripture. Old Testament is presented by Amy-Jill Levine, who is a bit closer to my own view, but not quite on the money. A course on Jesus and the Gospels is taught by Luke Timothy Johnson, and that sounds very appealing. Also a course on the five major world religions could be interesting as well, but it's down a bit on my list. I also noted a course on The Great Ideas of Philosophy.

I've always had an interest in history, and that section features a U. S. History course which looks fascinating. Individual studies on the Supreme Court, Augstine,Hitler, and Books That Have Made History also look interesting. There is even a course on C. S. Lewis for only $19.95 on CD which may end up as a necessity for me. If I was really smart, I'd set up an exchange program with some fellow geeks and overload on information.

Why does the desire for knowledge categorize one as a geek? Does it go back to school days when the "cool" people barely passed and the geeks studied and learned? Or is it a self-reliance illusion? Many don't learn because they claim they can get along fine without that knowledge. In some cases, they are right. I know I haven't needed my experience with quadratic equations anytime since my freshman year of college, but the vocabulary development class I took that same year is used most every week.

I think there are also some other reasons which go into the "ignorance is bliss" mindset. Some don't want to push themselves to learn for fear of discovering just how much they don't know. Why bring up new questions if you are perfectly content ignoring the old questions? Also there is a fear of revealing our ignorance to others. This is the condition which prevented us from raising our hands to answer a question in school. We don't want to look stupid -- we want to look like that knowledge isn't important. That means we are not unintelligent. We are simply efficient, understand what we need to do and what is a waste of our time.

I'm sure this same mindset has crept over into the lives of many Christians. The "don't learn any more than I have to" philosophy keeps believers from experiencing a fuller, more satisfying walk with Jesus Christ. It just breaks my heart to see a person with over sixty years of church-going experience who cannot find 1 Samuel in their Bible without using the Table of Contents. I cringe when supposedly mature saints cannot articulate basic doctrine -- or worse yet, articulate doctrine which is downright heretical, thinking this is how all Christians believe.

Well, here's a tip of the ol' ballcap to geeks everywhere who seek out more knowledge. And here's a word of encouragement to all believers to become a geek and seek after their Savior. If you seek Him, you will find Him, if you seek with all your heart. What are you waiting for? Geekdom awaits!


R. Stewart said...

I'm a proud geek. In fact, my wife, in our "not yet dating" life, used to flirt with me by saying, "Ron's a geek" whenever I walked into the room. I found her honesty as attractive as her smile:)

Thanks for the pointer to this site. I'm already looking for my next learning opportunity, having completed the MBA. Like you, I just can't get enough.

(And I'm rather fond of Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson myself; his work critiquing the Jesus Seminar et al isn't bad.)

Kim said...

When I was in high school, I didn't want to be geeky, because it was social suicide. However, I really liked learning. I'm living out my geek tendencies now, and spreading the joy to my family.

Jennifer said...

I've always been a geek. I still love learning, and take classes when I can afford it. I got one of those catalogs too, btw. Very funny.

julie said...

I've been downloading the free monthly offer from for the last 4 months. They are usually Christian classics. I loved 'School of Obedience' by Andrew Murray. February's is a novel - very different than the usual. You may enjoy this option also. Did I mention it's free???

I'm cheap and a geek!