When I was young I was big fan of wisdom literature. I like proverbs. Both the book in the book in the Bible and secular proverbs. I took Proverbs 4:6-7 seriously:

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
    love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

I’m no longer young. There are fewer days ahead than are behind. Now I identify more with the the guy who wrote Ecclesiastes

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?

Ecclesiastes

Christians forget Ecclesiastes is in the Bible. What I’ve come to believe is that wisdom needs to work. The point of wisdom is to make one’s labors under the sun easier or at least easier to bear. Not everything that passes for wisdom does that. Jesus said that he came that we might have life and have it to the full. Wisdom should result in a full life.

This page is where I put what I have learned so far. The page will keep changing as I learn more or think of better ways of saying things.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

Jesus in Matthew 10:16

A Genesis 3:1

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.

Wisdom used for evil purposes is called crafty or shrewd. As a Christian kid I was taught the ‘harmless as doves’ part of that verse but no one taught me how to be crafty like a serpent.

To have life and have it to the full you need to know all the craftiness and shrewdness of evil people and then use that knowledge to protect yourself and others. Then you will be wise.

The hardest lesson for me to learn was that I am a traitor to myself. There is a part of me that hates being wrong so much that it refuses to learn and get better. That is why I appreciate this quote from one of the greatest Emperors of Rome. He wasn’t Christian he was a stoic. I tell myself that if a stoic can do it so can a Christian.

“If anyone can refute me—show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone.”

Marcus Aurelius

As a rule I don’t care who says something. Many quotes are misattributed. Many accomplished and intelligent people say things that are not intelligent when they comment outside of their area of narrow expertise.

I don’t care who said it, I only care if it’s true.

The other problem with wise quotes is that they deal with the situation that existed in their time. The writer of Ecclesiastes was trying to solve the problem of death. The Buddha tried to solve the problem of endless reincarnation. Much of Chinese wisdom is trying to solve the problem of what to do if the Emperor is evil because eventually an evil Emperor always came to the throne.

I want wisdom that will help me now. Nietzche said: “If you know the why, you can live any how.” I doubt he was the first. I have my why. I want to live in such a way that the human race can reach the stars. I believe we can do it. The story of the tower of Babel teaches that when the whole human race works together we can build a tower up to heaven. For now our tower is Rockets. We may find a better way eventually. In Isaiah 35 the Bible teaches that someday the deserts will bloom with flowers. It may be a spiritual metaphor but I believe it literally too. We can do it if we work together. So, I have my why.

What about the how? Evil leaders fill their followers with visions of a future beautiful world so their followers will bear the terrible how that the leader has in store for them. I don’t believe that Jesus had that in mind for his followers. I believe that Jesus wanted his followers to have life and have it to the full as they worked towards the world that Jesus had in mind. Deep wisdom will make the world better and make the life of the person better too.

“Truth is for friends, deception is for enemies.”

David Smith

This is different from never lie. It is okay to lie to enemies. People who seek to harm you or others deserve to be deceived. More importantly for the purposes of having a full life is to be on your guard towards people who deceive you. If someone lies to you or even deceives you without lying, then they see you as a predator or prey. If you are not a predator then you are their prey. There is more explanation at this link. https://wordpress.com/post/predatortoparent.wordpress.com/201

“If self-esteem were all it took to be a success, I would be ruling this puny planet and maybe a couple more besides.”

David Smith

Self-esteem is not the secret to a full life. It is lie propagated by people who want other people to be weak. Real-esteem is the secret to a full life. It is far better to know your strengths and act within them.

“Insofar as God is a Father, I know exactly what he is like. I don’t need an Aramaic English lexicon to know what Abba means”

David Smith

Jesus described God as a Father. The people who wrote the New Testament knew that the Greek word for father didn’t convey the meaning that Jesus had in mind so they would add the Aramaic Abba. We read it as Abba Father. I’m an Abba. Since God is a Abba to me I have a pretty good idea of how he wants me to act. It protects me from being manipulated by people who would quote the Bible at me trying to get me to act the way they want me to act.

“Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help” ― Miyamoto Musashi, 11584 After Ice Age – Or 1584 AD

Not the sort of quote you would expect in a blog aimed at the Christian and post-Christian community. I’ve come to realize that most of my prayers to God were of a predatory nature. I wanted God to help me. Now I see God as a father. Fathers don’t want to help their children, they want their children to learn how to be adults and to deal with their problems themselves. That’s what I try to do now. If God wants me to succeed he can lend a hand now and then, as he sees fit. It’s a different sort of faith in God than what I was taught.

“My God my God why have you forsaken me.”

Jesus

Some people have a problem that Jesus despaired. They think it shows a lack of faith and lack of faith is a sin and therefore Jesus wasn’t sinless. They may think Jesus’ cry from the cross means Jesus didn’t have access to the rest of the trinity and therefore Jesus wasn’t divine. There is a legitimate interpretation that says Jesus was referring to Psalms 22 and therefore identifying himself as the messiah. Maybe. I like it better to think that Jesus was in both physical and spiritual agony. I don’t believe crying out to God is a sin. Speaking as father, I would never count it a sin the things my children said to me out of pain. I like Jesus better when I believe he suffered the same as we suffer.

“If someone tells you that a complex topic can be reduced to one thing then you are dealing with someone who either is stupid or thinks you are.”

David Smith

Nothing worth talking about can be reduced to one thing. People are complicated. The environment is complicated. Economies are complicated. It is never one thing. If there is one thing that can ameliorate all problems it is morality. Every problem is easier to solve if people attempt to behave in the best interests of the people around them. Even morality doesn’t solve problems like mental illness. It is never one thing. A similar thing that people will say if they think they are talking to someone stupid is ‘it’s simple arithmetic’. Nothing worth talking about is simple arithmetic.

“Writing is Thinking”

Jordan Peterson

Based on the number of times I have sat down to write out my ideas and then changed them as a result, for me at least, this truth is more valuable than all the others.

“Sin is predatory behavior. Getting more than you give is predatory”

David Smith

Christians use the term sin to define bad behavior and they define sin as whatever God says is a sin. They don’t ask why God said those things are sin. Sin is predatory behavior. If you take more than you give then you are a predator. All of us receive more than we give sometimes, especially from God. When you receive more than you give you are duty bound to pay back with gratitude and loyalty. We are also duty bound to treat other people the way we have been treated. All charity is given with the obligation that the receiver goes on to be charitable themselves.

“The better the person the larger their tribe!”

David Smith

All of us are driven by our animal instincts to care for those who are genetically closest to us. Even very evil people will care about themselves and their own family. If someone doesn’t care about themselves they are not likely to care much about their family. If someone doesn’t care about their family they are not likely to care about the group or the cause that they claim to love. If someone doesn’t care about their country they are not likely to care about all humanity. If someone doesn’t care about humanity they are not likely to care about the environment. If someone claims to love something far from them but doesn’t care for what is near they are probably lying.

Wisdom is like your lunch, you share what you have.

David Smith

About six times in my life I have looked back at my younger self and shook my head. I was amazed at how my younger self thought he was so smart but was so wrong compared to how smart I thought I was at that time. If I keep to the same pattern I will probably do the same thing 2 or 3 more times before I die. That means that what I am writing now, I will someday view as shallow and even naïve. Sorry about that. I wish I had better wisdom to offer but I don’t.