However, much like religion itself, Hallowe’en is rife with innumerate legends and mythos pervading its observance.
I was reading The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald last night and I came across a passage which read: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
Reading this line, I smiled and read it again, savoring the words.
Given the context of this line in this collection of Fitzgerald’s essays, which are reputed to be something of a “downer” in literary circles, I should have taken these words as being more of a cynical aphorism than a motivational or inspiring quote.
A parallel sort of statement has been long attributed to that philosopher from antiquity Aristotle, though I have as yet been unable to find it in any of his works: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
In considering the implications of this idea, my mind quickly turned towards the issues of my own day. Not only those of national politics but also those found in the intimate thoroughfares of home, church, and the workplace.
There is an old German proverb which states, “Der Teufel steckt im Detail,” which translates as the English idiom: “the devil’s in the details.”
What we mean, of course, is that certain particulars or fine points of minutiae can oftentimes come back to haunt us if they are overlooked.
This idea that in a chaotic universe, even the most ordered endeavor is soon to fall into disarray.
I suppose there is a certain earthy and homespun wisdom to this but I have to admit, on the whole, I don’t buy it.
Sure, I concede that man is capable of as much atrocity as he has imagination but I am not willing to supplant the beauty and wonder that surrounds all of creation, with the perverse belief that an utter uncertainty pervades human existence.
In the Psalms, King David writes: “The heavens declare the glory of GOD and the sky above proclaims His handiwork,” and the Apostle Paul writes to the Colossian church that in Him all things are held together.
This is what I see in the details.
A friend of mine recently asked me to recommend a good book for his children that would, in his words: “make them love reading.”
I responded that if his children, who are already well into their teens, do not yet appreciate the inexhaustible treasure that is the written word, then it is probably too late for them.
“Set your sights a bit lower,” I said to him.
“If you can bring them to a point where they can at least see a practical value in developing good reading habits, such as for college or career advancement, you will have won a great victory.”
I could tell he was disappointed and I did not intend to utterly discourage him, but, as I have worked and dwelt within the realms of public/private education and academia (as well as a lifelong student of humanity), it is my own experience that a person possesses an appreciation or discipline for reading in the same way that some are able to maintain a certain physical fitness through the ebb and flow of life.
That is, a person reads well and reads often because they like to read. A person reads well and reads often because they like what reading brings to them.