The Call of Wisdom (Proverbs 1)

Big Lies

WisdomAt my church yesterday, the liturgical Old Testament lesson was Proverbs 1:20-33. It describes a personified Wisdom, and, not so incidentally, as a woman.

The New Revised Stand Version (NRSV) reads, in part:

Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares, she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?”

But there is a Bible translation called The Message, by Peterson. It was the preferred translation by my late friend Keith Barber.

This take is far more pointed:

Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts. At the town center, she makes her speech. In the middle of the traffic, she takes her stand. At the busiest corner she calls out:

“Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance? Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism? Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn?”

The birth of the Big Lie

And it feels like she’s addressing, oh EVERYTHING that is happening. Mark Evanier pointed to an essay by Lucian K. Truscott IV, and quotes this section:

“The legacy 9/11 has left us is that there is no common set of facts we can agree on about anything: Not about the COVID pandemic and masks and vaccines; not about the climate change that has killed hundreds and left town after town burned to the ground or underwater and destroyed by tornadoes and hurricanes.

“We cannot agree that votes counted amount to elections won or lost. We cannot even agree on the common good of vaccines that will save us, that science is worth studying, that learned experts are worth listening to.”

As a librarian who tries to find facts for people, this blatant disregard for truth has continually made me, at first, angry, but ultimately very, very sad. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Proverbs 1 (Peterson):

What if catastrophe strikes and there’s nothing to show for your life but rubble and ashes? You’ll need me then. You’ll call for me, but don’t expect an answer. No matter how hard you look, you won’t find me…

Don’t you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots? Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. First, pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy-you’re in good hands.

Q is for a Famous Quotation

My late father used to say, fairly frequently as I recall, this quotation: “It is better to remain silent and be thought of as a a fool than to speak up and remove any doubt.”

But who was he quoting? I couldn’t find anything in Bartelby or Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, the latter, in print form, a constant source of my entertainment growing up.

Finally, I found a similar quotation at Quote Investigator. Was it attributed to Abraham Lincoln? Mark Twain? A Biblical Proverb?

“There is a biblical proverb that expresses a similar idea, namely Proverbs 17:28. Here is the New International Version followed by the King James Version of this verse:

“‘Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.’

“‘Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.'”

After dismissing Lincoln and Twain because the attributions to them were so much after their time, and noting the Proverbs have not quite the same sentiment, QI favors Maurice Switzer, from a “book titled ‘Mrs. Goose, Her Book’… The publication date was 1907 and the copyright notice was 1906. The book was primarily filled with clever nonsense verse, and the phrasing in this early version was slightly different:

“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.”

This all begs the question, Is it true? Do people actually think you’re smart if you retain a mysterious silence? Perhaps; this does not appear to be a period in history when a lot goes unsaid. That apparent need to always say SOMETHING is often to the detriment of the speaker, and, quite often, of us all.

Rather off topic, but LISTEN to the Tremeloes sing Silence is Golden.

For ABC Wednesday