Willful ignorance
September 17, 2008, 7:14 am
Filed under: culture, family, inter::mission, Seattle

I’m feeling really out of touch right about now.  With the start of the new school year at UW only a week away (which means move-in for inter::mission only two days away), I’ve been sprinting to get lots of last minute projects and details done.  Good meetings with students and staff, heaving furniture up The Purple Door’s tight and winding staircases, getting keys cut, and plotting out our fall series of teach-ins.  While all that’s going on, my parents flew in for a quick visit over the weekend.  It was the most time Michelle and I have had with them in a long, long time, so we enjoyed it.  Oh, and I’m still buried in my dissertation these days.

All that has added up to me almost completely ignoring the fact that the world is moving along rapidly without me.  Other than seeing Twitter updates from people who lost power, I know very very little about Hurricane Ike and the destruction that caused.  I heard about more financial signs of the apocalypse, and the stock market losing 500 points in a day, but not much more than that.  I’m pretty sure there’s still a presidential campaign going on, but I’ll have to verify that to be sure.

I just checked my RSS reader, and from the four (supposedly) respectable news sources I track, there are over 1700 unread items.  By the time I catch up, I’ll be out of touch again.

This sense of not knowing what’s up in the world has me thinking a lot about how willful I often am when it comes to my ignorance.  The truth is, despite all I’ve just written, this state of being is actually quite normal for me – it’s just that I usually ignore different things than I’m currently ignoring.  Rather than being unaware of the daily details of the news cycle, I’m unaware of homelessness in Seattle.  Rather than not hearing the latest polls about who the latest imperial figure head will be, I don’t hear about how subtle (and not-so-subtle), but insidious forms of racism continue to hold back the bride of Christ from being more beautiful.

Willful ignorance may sound like a harsh term – I don’t mean it as super negative.  In fact, it’s actually quite normal.  People choose to be ignorant about things – whether it’s the NBA, the music scene, news from other parts of the world, news from across the street.  This information age we’re in has made it impossible to keep up with everything, and all we can do is choose our categories of ignorance.

It’s just that if I’m going to be ignorant, I’d sure like to be ignorant about some things that don’t matter so much.  Whether it’s fashion trends, the entertainment industry, global terror, or the debate over emerging church terminology (please don’t get offended at my choices of examples), I have the power to walk away from things that add nothing to God’s kingdom.  Instead I can be well informed on a better set of information.

So, what about you?  What are you an expert in that you might better be ignorant about, or vice-versa?


1 Comment so far
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Totally ignorant on all the Wall Street-AIG-Lehman Brothers stuff.

Maybe I’m being naive here, but it just seems the media wants to fuel America’s addiction to fear. We’re a nation who’s so afraid of losing our assets, our war and our overall ability to be the most powerful empire…umm, I mean nation in the world.

Gotta go..I need to check my financial portfolio for the twentieth time today! 🙂

Comment by rexhamilton

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