At some point along the line, I am sure that most all of us have heard about the kiss principle. But, in case you haven’t, KISS stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”
In some circumstances, the KISS principle is a good reminder. All of us find it difficult to follow things that have the appearance of being too complex, too complicated, too hard to understand. There is a limit to the amount of sensory information and sensory input that anyone of us can digest. And, as we live in an era of information overload, there is a certain attraction to the idea of keeping it simple. There is a certain economy of elegance in keeping things simple and understandable.
Well, it would be nice if it were possible always to just keep it simple. But I think you and I understand that there is a limit to what can be achieved by sticking to that which is simple; by sticking to that which is of the least common denominator. Most things in life are not just that simple. Most things in life have a tendency– a propensity– for becoming rather complicated. If simplicity were all that were needed, third-graders would be brain surgeons.
Sometimes simplicity is a good idea. And sometimes, simplicity just doesn’t work because the whole subject is far too complicated, far too multifaceted. Some things can’t be dumbed down; some things cannot be reduced to the least common denominator.
One of those things that cannot be dumbed down and reduced to the least common denominator is the concept of God as Trinity. O, we may try to find ways of understanding it by using analogies to shamrocks, triangles, and three and one oil, and we may understand the core of the doctrine which is this: there is One God, and in God there are Three Persons.
God is love. But, basically, you cannot reduce God to the least common denominator. After all, God would not be worthy of our worship if we could explain God.
Human life and human personality cannot be readily simplified. Most of us live in complex situations. A woman might be a wife, a mother, a co-worker. She may have a Facebook persona that is highly different from all those other areas of her life; and the same thing may be true about a man–he might be a husband, a father, and a co-worker. And if we cannot accurately reduce a human being’s personality down to the least common denominator, so much less is it possible or accurate to do so with God.
With human beings, when we try to reduce others down to the least common denominator, we have fallen into sin. When we make assumptions about the person based upon the way they look and the color of their skin, that is called the sin of racism. But there are plenty of other ways in which we are tempted to engage in this sort of behavior, which is called reductionism by some ethicists.
Reductionism is essentially the failure to see the image of God in one another and a failure to respect the dignity of every human being. Reductionism surrounds every aspect of our culture. Most everything is reduced to its simplest possible terms. And, being reduced to the simplest possible terms, then people argue, carry-on… dare I say, bloviate.
Culturally speaking, is there not a certain hunger for wisdom? Does she not call yet unheeded from the street corner? Is she not standing there, raising her voice, begging for understanding rather than reactivity? Does she not cry on the heights beside the way at the crossroad– calling out to anyone with the vain hope that perhaps they might indeed hear?
But, in our culture, what we have in the place of wisdom is entrenched opinion. Rather than gaining understanding– rather than doing the work of listening and digging after the truth– we are stuck in the ability to be polarized into opposing and entrenched camps. It may be that the KISS principle is not serving us that well.
So may you learn to strive after wisdom. Not the type of wisdom that is the wisdom of this world, but the true wisdom that is a gift from God. There’s a difference, you know.
Sadly, what passes for the wisdom of this world tends to be cast in expressing an opinion of negativity or judgment. We’ve all had the experience of being with a group of people who are excited about a certain task, and it is generally the one who is the most pessimistic of the group who is credited with exhibiting wisdom. But often, what is being exhibited is negativity, not true wisdom.
True wisdom—the wisdom from God– is positive, energetic, and life-giving. It is filled with the sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit. And it may be that, apart from having that gift of the Holy Spirit, we cannot fully begin to appreciate the elegance of the wisdom of God.
At least that seems to be the case in the Gospel, in which our Lord says to the disciples: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
It seems like Jesus is saying, “Well, you’ve got a lot to learn.”
So may you strive to become truly wise and truly filled with the grace of God, the power of God, and the wisdom of God.