Intellectual Snobbery

Pride goes before destruction,
    a haughty spirit before a fall.

  • Proverbs 16:18

Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.

  • C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Our younger son is still on the mend.  It is a slow process.  This is difficult since he is not getting paid while in therapy; the doctors refuse to release him back to work until his medication is properly balanced, and the bills keep mounting – for the therapy and the normal bills of life.

Today is Word Nerd Day.  (Thank you, Steve Patterson of the Courageous Christian Father, for pointing that out for me.) That caused me to think of our younger son and a reversal in allegiance that he made early in college.

Our son is now a music teacher in elementary school, but he is certified as a band director also.  He devoured music from an early age.  I came home from work one day, when he was less than a year and a half old.  I found him in a comfy chair, looking out the window.  He had the over-sized headphones on, doubling the size of his head.  He had turned on the amplifier for the stereo system.  He turned on the reel-to-reel tape player with either classical or disco instrumentals playing.  And he was listening, completely content in his musical world.

As he grew up, one of his favorite artists was Kenny G.  I think that his shift from clarinet to tenor saxophone may have been influenced, at least partly, by his love for Kenny G.  That and being bullied for playing a “girl’s instrument.” Odd, but at the time that he made this shift, he had a girlfriend (just both too young to date).  She was Ace Cannon’s granddaughter, but he rarely listened to her Grandpa’s music.  His love was Kenny G.

Then one day after my son had started college, I inserted a Kenny G CD into the car stereo when my son came home to visit.

My son said, “Dad, please!  Turn that off.  Kenny G is not good jazz.  He’s derivative.”

I am a man of words.  You might call me a word nerd.  But as I was driving, holding the steering wheel in my left hand with my right hand holding an ejected Kenny G CD, I became totally confused, luckily not causing a wreck in my distraction.  “How is Kenny G derivative?”

My son eventually explained how his professors had explained Kenny G’s techniques as being derivative, but it got me to thinking about intellectual snobbery.  How could you love someone’s music and then find the tiniest flaw, making it horrible?  So horrible, you could never listen to it again?

I have known people who never went to a movie unless it was nominated for an Academy Award.  Knowing the mindset of the Academy, that almost always guarantees that I will not go to such movies, but for those friends that think that way, they are missing a lot of wholesome entertainment.

I have known people who took performance arts classes who cannot watch a movie or television show without tearing down everyone involved in the movie or TV program.  The director made these mistakes.  The film editor made these mistakes.  The writers made these mistakes.  The actors should turn in their cards and quit acting.  But the movie or TV show was enjoyable.  How could it be with so many errors?  If I nitpicked anything that much, I’d get no enjoyment from it.  I would go away from the theater agitated, out-of-sorts, and a bit angry.

But in pointing fingers at others, I must point some back at myself.  When my favorite weather station on television explains things for those who are unfamiliar with meteorology, they have said, more than once, “Heat rises.”  That creams my corn, as Penny used to say on The Big Bang Theory.  Heat goes from hot to cold, which the channel in question also says, at times, to their credit possibly more often than the other.  The concept of heat rising stems from the fact that hot gases are less dense than cold gases.  If given a chance, they will float upward, while the colder gases sink downward to replace them.

When explaining a fast spreading wildfire, these hot gases going uphill carry embers, but also dry out and preheat the timber, making the fire spread faster.  But in misstating heat going uphill, it leaves the person explaining the spread of the wildfire in a jam, when the fire continues to spread down the hill on the far side.  The reporter says that the wind carries embers downhill, but the fire is hot.  The trees on the leeward side of the hill are relatively cool.  Being technically accurate in saying that heat goes from hot to cold, explains fire travelling up and down hills.

Now that I have that off my chest, does it make a HILL OF BEANS difference?!?

Each person with a degree in some field of higher education knows stuff that people who did not take classes in that field would know.  We should not lord it over those who are not as educated, or maybe less than interested in the finer points of our favorite topic.

And when it comes to Kenny G, why can you not continue to enjoy something that brought great joy to you before, just because Kenny G’s music is commercially accepted?  I remember an old Beverly Hillbillies episode where the guest star was Hans Conried.  Conried is well-known for his voice acting as Captain Hook in Disney’s Peter Pan and in the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show as several voices in Fractured Fairytales and villain Snidely Whiplash in the Dudley Do-Right shorts.  But, in this television show, he portrayed an accomplished classical violinist.  He went around through the entire episode, looking down on the hillbillies and their rough, homespun ways.  He used a haughty British accent (although Conried was born in Maryland) to add to the air of superiority.  But in truth, he was a starving performer, hoping to take advantage of the Clampetts’ lack of sophistication.  At the end of the episode, Flatt and Scruggs, who played the theme song for the show, visited the Clampetts in a cameo appearance.  The brief conversation got around to the money that Flatt and Scruggs made for each performance.  Conried then switched his accent to a hillbilly accent and asked if he was playing his ‘fiddle’ good enough to join the band.

Not that we should chase the money, but we should be careful to use our advanced knowledge in a particular field of study to God’s glory and not as a weapon to put others down.  After all, God had a hand in your education.  You have great responsibility in using it to His glory.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


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  1. This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend after his first year of college at the state’s Institute of Technology. He said he was no longer able to watch Roadrunner cartoons because he could see exactly why things shown in those cartoons cannot happen in the real world. J.

    Liked by 1 person

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