While I have recently commented that 2020 is for me an ordinary year in the life of this writer, not everyone feels the same way. Today I had a conversation with someone who told me the story about her immensely stressed out daughter, whose feeling that remote education and a teacher that apparently has targeted her personally has wasted a year of her education has largely knee-capped her year and made life particularly stressful. The devotion of school districts in Oregon to distance learning with a disease that is not particularly harmful at all to young people is one of the more baffling aspects of the generally baffling decision-making that has run rampant in 2020. And I can certainly understand frustration about a wasted year in education, especially because distance learning is not something that comes easily to elementary school children, especially the way it is often implemented by school districts with limited competence in education in general, and far greater problems when one faces situations that apparently no one prepared for.
In the first half of the oughts, Santana’s career was rejuvenated with three albums that paired the guitarist with a slew of successful younger artists in a way that resonated with wide audiences. By the third album, though, the formula was running a big ragged, and the lead-off single of this album was a song called “I’m Feeling You,” which is a song that has attracted a great deal of distaste from some of the people involved in it. Michelle Branch was given a co-writing credit for the song where she says that she did not write, and that is something that is easy enough to believe. Both Branch and background singer Jessica Harp were pressured into the song because the label promised them to support their country album as The Wreckers if they performed on the Santana track. It is impossible to know, at this point, whether the label lived up to their promise, as The Wreckers had a successful country hit with “Leave The Pieces” and their album went gold, which is at lest somewhat of a success, so it’s not as if the Wreckers or Michelle Branch suffered as a result from their participation in a song, a song that many critics weren’t feeling and that didn’t capture the popularity of the previous Santana-Branch collaboration in the Grammy-winning “The Game Of Love.”
Today for services we had a sermon by a retired minister who tends to have a bit of a polarizing reputation when it comes to his messages. In general, as I was typing the message for a deaf member in our congregation, I found the lack of structure in the message and its rambling pace of around an hour and a half to be rather frustrating. That said, the topic of the message itself was very worthwhile, a contrast between the way of truth and the way of deception that spent a lot of time dealing with the two trees, a rather fundamental area of importance. We live in a world where deception is everywhere and where even the idea of truth is one that receives a great deal of scorn in influential areas of society. A commitment to the truth is more than a commitment to honesty, but it is also a commitment to accurate and, as much as possible, complete knowledge, for sincere error is not truth. Truth depends on precision as well as accuracy, and it is tough to live in a way that is consonant with truth.
I have found it to be striking and somewhat intriguing that someone who is not a particularly bookish or intellectual person, whose structure and reasoning processes are not particular strengths, nonetheless has chosen to spend so much time talking about areas of epistemology, addressing how it is that we know things and defending a strong view of the Bible as being epistemologically sound. There is sometimes a fundamental mismatch between our ambitions and our gifts and talents as writers or speakers, which leads people to demonstrate a sincere interest in areas where they simply lack the skill to do what they set out to do in a fashion that would crown their efforts with glory. Should we praise the effort, or must we think of reasons why the efforts are not as successful as they could be, and think of ways where the same topic could have been approached in a more skillful manner with a more successful result. Similarly, is it worthwhile to ponder areas where we too may have a mismatch between what we feel passionately about communicating and what we can communicate about with skill and polish?