Knowing

February 4, 2008 by  
Filed under Recognition

knowing1

Robert Kaita, Plasma Physics
Princeton

 

Academia is anchored on the intellectual accomplishments of its members, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this. The problem occurs, however, when we confuse what we think we know with what we actually do with that knowledge.

If we have been churchgoers for some time, there is much of the Christian message that is familiar to us.  The rub, of course, is what we do with that reality, and how it reflects who our Master truly is.

What We Value Most As Professors

Many of us recall the story of the rich young ruler, who wasn’t willing to give up what he valued – material wealth –to follow Christ. As professors our time is valuable, and there is so much all of us still have to master to keep up in our professions. But have we really understood Jesus’ message if we recently turned away from someone in need, because the cost of what we value – our time — was too much?

We know the parable of the Good Samaritan. On the other hand, have we ever honestly asked ourselves which of the characters we really are? Those who didn’t stop to help the beaten man had important things on their agendas that day.

Hidden By Our High Walls

Their path to success, however, ended up being a deep rut. We can readily find ourselves in one as well if we aren’t careful. Our neighbors are then hidden by our high walls, richly adorned though they might be with our publications and honors.

As one wag once put it, what is the use of mastering the techniques of firefighting if you never apply them to a burning house?

Several years ago, the organizers of the Vacation Bible School at my church felt that more men should be involved. My wife eagerly volunteered me, since she said that I didn’t have a “real” job! This was her way of saying that I wasn’t required to put on a business suit before dawn and face a long commute like so many other spouses. The need at my church was real enough, and my schedule was indeed flexible, so I agreed.

Vacation Bible School ended up being a good experience, since the youngsters were “no respecter of persons” in the most humbling sense for me.  They knew nothing of my “distinguished reputation” in the international physics community, nor did they care. All that concerned them was whether or not I was boring.

I Wasn’t Capturing Their Attention

These children didn’t have the courtesy to fall asleep as older students might. Instead, they made it very clear when I wasn’t capturing their attention.

I began to wonder if my professional accomplishments were camouflaging the rut I was digging for myself. Was it preventing me from what I really ought to be doing? The Bible tells us of Christ’s insistence that little children should not be kept from Him. I have the children in my vacation Bible school class to thank for reminding me what kind of servant I should be.

From our earliest student days, we learned the importance of reading the text and then doing the exercises to insure our understanding of the material. We can do no less in our most important subject, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 
© 2008   Robert Kaita    Used by Permission of Faculty Commons

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