03 December 2008

Wisdom here? As likely as fishing in an unstocked pond.

Friend Josh lost a loved and respected teacher unexpectedly over the weekend. His always-thoughtful blog has a touching reminiscence:

[I'm too stupid to post a link. See "Central Christian Church, Pastor's Blog" on links bottom right.]

I would comment on the blog -- but haven't for a couple of reasons. One, this is a private thing for Josh. If he were alone in a schoolhouse, I'm thinking he would have written this on all the chalkboards. But mainly, who am I to extend sympathy or understanding? I didn't know Bill Placher.

Or did I? I’m not spouting wisdom here, you’re not going to find me claiming that, ever. But of course I know Bill Placher. I know Josh. Part of who Josh is came from Friend Bill’s teaching and personality. Much of his teaching appears to have been done with questions, which is tough to pull off. And I see that in Josh. And I know whoever occupied that place in Bill’s life, even though I’ve no idea of what his/her name is, and perhaps neither does Josh.

If you know me, you know my Dad; and Sax; and Louis Schoolnic; and the guys who taught them. You know Central Christian Church, which spends part of its time ambushing me with new truths, and you know the folks who started that church 115 years ago.

We know a lot of others through Josh, and I want to learn about them, too. And there will be more. Institutions to which you pay monetary tuition are minor things. Of greater import is the College of Hard Knocks. Sometimes I wonder who the dean of CHK is. Maybe it’s some guy living in a shack. Or a younger person on a respirator in an ICU. It could be a single mom who raised four kids and put them through college. Whoever it is, I’m on pretty solid ground when I say that the Dean of CHK says that if you’re smart, you never graduate. You just keep taking harder courses, and then you can teach more people.

There is a continuity to human learning. And maybe to human wisdom. That last, I’m really not sure.

Josh, I respect your sorrow this evening and commend to you the power of meditation and reflection.

Pippa passes.



Joshua Patty said...


Many thanks for your kind words. It has been rough week. But I think you're right about the connections we have with others we've never met. "We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses," Hebrews says, which must be an attempt to describe such relationships.

Anonymous said...

Roger, have you noticed that the competition for who & what imprints our young is a lot more fierce than when you and I were young?

How much of a disappointment might you be to a few, some or all of your eight great grandparents? Or would they just admit they haven't a clue as to what you're about?

Whatever your answer, what about the 16 of your next set of 'grands'?