When the Americans went into Iraq the first time they left the English language with a phrase - "surgical strike". In this second invasion new significance seems to have been poured into the word "surge".
Well this past week I escaped to an iconic Kiwi bach (cottage) for a writing 'surge'. Sleeping and writing was interrupted by occasional food and exercise - and cups of tea/soup and glimpses of TV in my breaks. Yes, there was a tiny TV in the corner into which I could peer. It received just the three public channels. I am pretty much a news and sports person (with the BBC Robin Hood series being my weekly indulgence). But in my breaks this week I did something so completely and totally sinful (!) - I watched a bit of the daytime TV talk shows.
I'd seen glimpses of Oprah in the past. And while I'd heard about Dr Phil, Rachel Ray and Tyra and Jeremy Kyle and Supper Nanny were all new to me. Throw in the apparently endless rounds of infomercials hosted by people who solely through their celebrity status gain expertise in a field (a great mystery to me) - and there is the makings of quite the cultural event through each day.
As I listened what I heard was this hunger to solve the problems of life. There is this longing for wisdom, a 'wisdom surge' going on.
It reminded me of a book by Alyce McKenzie in which the very first paragraph says:
"The 1960s told us to be prophets. The 1970s told us to be therapists. The 1980s told us to be church-growth consultants. The 1990s told us to be player-coaches. I am convinced that this is the era of the sage."
We live in "a culture that craves sages". While knowledge and intelligence have their place, it is wisdom that we need. And while the Bible is not exhaustive in knowledge, it is sufficient for wisdom. We live in its story. We soak in its truth. We pray it. We practice it. These place us on a trajectory of wisdom and then when we enter our complicated world with its fresh problems the Spirit helps us to extrapolate further on that trajectory to discover what the wise response looks like.
But not only does the Bible help make us wise, it has its own 'wisdom surge' expressed in specific Wisdom books of astonishing relevance: Job, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, some Psalms etc... This is where McKenzie's book is focused. She states that to gain wisdom is to commit to the bended knee, the listening heart, the cool spirit, and the subversive voice. And within the job description of the sage, she includes the intriguing role of 'fool-management'...
A lot of this day-time wisdom surge (not all of it, I hasten to add) is 'foolishness'. It needs to be 'managed'. The people of God need to respond by embracing this wisdom surge in the Bible and cultivating leaders at all levels of life who are servants and shepherds and stewards and seers ... and sages.