The Cult of Knowledge as Power

“Knowledge is power” – Words rooted in the worship of human strength – hideous with all the foolish stupidity that comes with our thinking. Power to do what? Some say to rule, others to make good in the world. Some desire to accomplish both. Unfortunately, we shall reap neither. The more total the rule, the more thorough the destruction. The good made decays with corruption. What more to expect from those who learn to acquire power? Aye, more so when there is poor discernment in the knowledge sought.

These seemingly noble ambitions are made a danger when set upon the imperfection, the sinful existence of man. The objection: Yes, humans are imperfect but we must progress to what is better for the good of humanity. If only a stained washcloth could help set fine dishes for a meal. Perhaps everything on the table will look clean, only the food is still contaminated by our folly. Good enough, at least we are trying, so is said. This arrogantly stated until those soaked in sludge, Lord forbid blood, take over hosting.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), a witness to the bloodbath of the English Civil War, wrote “Leviathan,” a book of lasting influence which calls for “consent” to a king and government with absolute power. It is worth noting that he is the focus of the above theme illustration for this post. He had this to say about knowledge (Scientia/science) and its relation to a person:

“The Power of a man (to take it universally), is his present means to obtain some future apparent Good. . . . The Greatest of humane Powers, is that which is compounded of the powers of most men, united by consent, in one person, natural or civil, that has the use of all their Powers depending on his will; . . . The Sciences, are small Power, . . . not acknowledged in any man; nor are at all, but in a few [only some can possess this power]; . . . The Value, or Worth of a man, is as of all other things, his Price; that is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his Power: and therefor is not absolute; but a thing dependent on the need and judgement of another. . . . For let a man (as most men do) rate themselves at the highest value they can; yet their true value is no more than it is esteemed by others. . . . The public worth of a man, which is the Value set on him by the Commonwealth, is that which men commonly call Dignity. And this value of him by the Commonwealth, is understood, by offices of Command, Judges, public Employment, or by Names and Titles, introduced for distinction of such Value.”

from chapter 10 of “Leviathan” (1651)

Now, do people really benefit of good (& peace as Hobbes would have it) when absolute power is given to us mortals, whether one or the few? Most are hesitant, perhaps for now, but if we only seek to improve our lot in the world by our own means for what we desire, it is tempting to have faith in sinful souls for a perfect way of life. Did not God warn His chosen Hebrew people not to put their trust in the might of a mortal king – 1st Samuel Chapter 8. Even after explaining the oppression and tragedy a ruler would set on them, they still demanded it, so as to become rich and powerful like other nations.

Instead of gaining the knowledge of God, to be only subject to Him, independent of human power, we often choose the security promised by others, often believing we too shall share in the power. But no, the earthly powers that be think too highly of themselves, categorizing everyone into mere tools for whatever Good they deem worthy. Why fear God, who is supposedly love? Well, because Christ is truth, goodness, and beauty, being the perfect Creator, we too share in these blessed things, gifted through absolute power. On the other hand, we will have to admit the raw fear of a fellow fallen man, either of us being corrupt enough in our knowledge to be sure we have the authority of the Almighty in our own position of life. In reality, behind all our pride, a spiritual power of dark principalities are the ones really pulling the strings of puppets too intoxicated by their lies to see the way, truth, and life God offers as our birthright.

Do these modern men of science and politics believe there are no spiritual higher powers? Trailer for “Symmetry” – hadron collider project https://youtu.be/Cllqr1nmdYk & ceremony for this project attended by world leaders – https://youtu.be/2YS8r6pg9NM

“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.  And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

2 Timothy 2:20-26

“Then the Lord told Moses, “Early tomorrow morning present yourself to Pharaoh and say to him: Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go to worship Me, or this time I will hurl all my blows upon you and your servants and your subjects, that you may know that there is none like Me anywhere on earth. For by now I would have stretched out my hand and struck you and your subjects with such pestilence as would wipe you from the earth. But this is why I have spared you: to show you my power and to make my name resound throughout the earth! Will you still block the way for my people by refusing to let them go? . . . Some of Pharaoh’s servants feared the warning of the Lord and hurried their servants and livestock off to shelter. Others, however did not take the warning of the Lord to heart and left their servants and livestock in the field.”

Exodus 9:13-17; 20-21

My Heritage: Creative Work

Ancestry – Kin Folk

I am blessed to know my family history, a long line of souls who existed through a labor ethic commanded by God, so they could surpass the menial material ambitions of man. Thus is my inherited bounty of rich knowledge and culture rooted in divine will. Cursed is us who forget it in favor of luxury. Such is our downfall if we sit on a cushioned gilded chair, instead of kneeling before the generous heavenly Throne. I cannot fain ignorance of creative generations which overcame the evils of the human heart. Some, as potent examples of warning, submitted to prideful decadent spirits.

My father’s side can be traced back to the early 1800s, my mother’s beginning the following century. The former were of black slaves, freedmen, and white citizens, likely of Irish heritage, possibly also German, since ‘Fulmer’ is an Anglicized form of Germanic surnames. It did not take very long for my ancestors to thrive independently after Emancipation. This may be due to the seemingly diverse skills of those beforehand. The number of colored portraits, which were also made as late as my great-great grandfather, denote a like variation of social status among the non-white members. Passing on trained hands and minds for at least sixty years, the great-great generation continued this self-education, me reaping a crop cultivated for hundreds of years.

 My mother’s side was composed of rancheros and builders. Generally of a balanced Spanish and Meso-American background, the bloodline maintained a common way of life. Not as academically astute as my father’s side, although they possess a focused ethic. A communal outlook quickly forms connections with family and peers. Like my father’s side, the generations have practiced self-education, tending to prioritize a single field. Having adopted this ethic, the paternal jack of skills is reinforced by the maternal fine tuned specialty, even if it is basic manual labor. The best of two worlds have been bestowed to me.

Above all, I inherited a spiritual heritage. The paternity was Protestant of a predominantly Methodist tradition. The maternity is of an extended Catholic line. Regardless of relatives’ personal practices, it was made evident since early childhood how these different forms of Christianity permeated familial ways. It has been of piercing insight to witness what happens when Godly wisdom is embraced or ignored in the relations of kin folk, not to mention their individual well-being. Thus, I find a foundational guidance in direct faith in Christ, desiring to live a natural spirituality indirectly in the public sphere. It can be challenging to be intentional at moments. This intentionality would be unnecessary if one devotedly grew in the God called the Way, Truth, and Life.

Grandparents

Pop Pop & Mom Mom were the elders of dynamic existence. To see them express joy and sorrow, stoicism and frolic, depth and simplicity, was an underlying impact of my youth. Life was of pain and merriment. You can neither walk in excess nor absence or either. When death seems to haunt your home, preying on all you love, mourn then be glad for God being mindful of us mortal creatures. Mom Mom outlasted her husband by a notable number of years. Through it all she prayed. Eventually no longer able to physically care for her loved ones, she poured out a soul of steadfast heart. I fondly remember lasting words she told me in high school: “Those educated and skilled are to help raise others out of the dark.” And “Equality comes from how God created us, different but of the same worth.” Her final prayers were for our prosperity, to continue loving amid suffering. She obeyed the Lord’s command to pour out the last of her heart, so He could personally refill it. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Grandpa & Grandma (Abuelo & Abuelita) remain as teachers of their successors. That is whomever takes to heart what they say, along with what has been valued. Far past their prime, they still exhibit a strength that very surely only comes with decades of fortitude in heart. Regardless of imperfections in religious faith, the recognition of God as sovereign has been a constant. The family and neighborly ties hinged on the holy, not wavering human passions. Their legacy is one that has seeded golden fidelity, dearly cared for by their children/grandchildren. Creative work builds not just excellent experience; the heart is nurtured to withstand trial in familial unities. As we are blessed with their presence, may the younger generation not assert our contemporary ignorance superior to their time tested knowledge/wisdom.

Parents

In summation, I find myself ever more grateful to the Lord for the father and mother who raised me. The homemaker devoted me in the moonlight to the will of her God. The head of the house desired me, as well as my sister, to be educated on the foundation of His Word. They have both lamented their mistakes, in regret of what may have harmed my upbringing. Who knows what I may have accomplished without the poor decisions? What an irrelevant thing to ponder about. Together we learned, fell, and got back on our feet. All this because they pointed me to the Holy One who faithfully guides our steps. Amid all the knowledge and wisdom imparted to me, a gift several generations in the making, they lovingly made sure I was introduced to Goodness, Beauty, and Truth – in human language He is called Jesus Christ. Indeed, I am a free man within a world of souls in bondage. It is not due to my identity. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

“Let not your heart emulate sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord always; For you will surely have a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Hear, my son, and be wise, and guide your heart in the right way. Consort not with winebibbers, not with those who eat meat to excess; for the drunkard and the glutton come to poverty, and torpor clothes a man in rags. Listen to your father who begot you, and despise not your mother when she is old. Get the truth, and sell it not – wisdom, instruction and understanding. The father of a just man will exult with glee; he who begets a wise son will have joy in him. Let your father and mother have joy; let her who bore you exult.”

Proverbs 23:17-25