Coffee Stains: David the PhilosopherAuthor: David Porter
Now that I’ve arrived at the age of 57, I’ve finally decided what I want to do when I grow up. I want to be an intellectual.
I saw a picture of six of these lofty fellows on the front page of the French newspaper ‘Le Figaro’ the other day. The paper observed that the intellectuals seemed to be sitting out this French presidential race. They don’t have a lot to say about it. That’s serious when you’re an intellectual because saying stuff is what you do.
I realized that if I’m going to be an intellectual, the first thing I have to do is to put a picture of me on my website, looking serious. These newspaper fellows all had their chins propped on their hand, or were looking off into the distance (where truth is found, no doubt). All except one were frowning, which is also what intellectuals do a lot. One looked like he was constipated.
So soon you’ll probably see a picture of me somewhere, chin propped on hand, scowl on my face, looking into the future — thinking. I’ll be thinking, ‘Wonder what she’s making for lunch today?’ But I won’t be thinking only light thoughts like that, I’ll be thinking profound thoughts like, ‘What a stupid call on fourth and one! A four-year old could come up with a better play than that. What are they teaching people in college these days anyway?’
Weird Stuff and Frowns
The tough part about being an intellectual is getting people to realize that you are one. Just saying weird stuff and frowning isn’t enough. A lot of imbeciles do that. But when you’re an intellectual and say weird stuff and frown, people are amazed. ‘How intellectual!’ they exclaim. People ask you to appear on television and frown, look into the distance, and say stuff.
They even pay you to be an intellectual, give you chairs at the university and what not. They buy your books.
You don’t even have to say smart things. Just things. Like Nietzsche, for example. This German intellectual was confined to a mental hospital at the age of 45 (intellectuals have to be careful), but before that he wrote books that eventually influenced the entire Western world. His thesis that ‘God is dead’ still motivates many. Adolph Hitler seemed to love his ideas about the superman.
In reality, intellectuals have to say what people want to hear. They are often the “theologians” of humanism. Some really have insight as far as human wisdom goes, but I’m amazed at some of their propositions.
To be honest, the wisdom of this world flies against the wisdom of God. If you know the Lord Jesus it influences how you view the world. And if you don’t know Him, a Christian worldview seems the craziest thing you can imagine. God doesn’t consider things the same way man does.
‘So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb preaching, of all things! To bring those who trust him into the way of salvation. While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle, and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.” (1 Cor. 1, Eugene Peterson in The Message).
Ah, I think I may as well cancel my ‘intellectual’ photo shoot. I’d rather have God’s wisdom.