The Little Manual Symposium
To celebrate the Symposium, Cascade Books is offering the Kindle edition* at the special price of $2.99!
* It is not necessary to own a Kindle. There is a Kindle app available for many devices.
* It is not necessary to own a Kindle. There is a Kindle app available for many devices.
A Little Manual for Knowing is a how-to for knowing ventures of any kind, in any field.
A symposium, like Plato’s famous dia-logue of that name, is a party that, along with festive food and drink, features de-lightful discussion of philosophical ideas, each participant of-fering a contribution to the conversation.
This LM Symposium, therefore, features contributions from thoughtful people from a variety of walks of life, about LM and their particular sort of knowing ventures.
I’ve personally in-vited each one to tell how LM elucidates and helps improve knowing ventures in their field, sug-gesting how you too might use LM in such ventures.
Would you like to be a contributor? Send me something like this, and I will consider adding it here. Or feel free to informally share positive exper-iences on my author Facebook page, Esther Lightcap Meek.
Thanks for entering the conversation. Know that it will give others concrete ideas about using LM in their own knowing ventures. Know that that will bless me, too.
We will post our contributors' respon-ses as we receive them, so keep check-ing back.
LM and the Therapeutic Process
Dr. Dan B. Allender is a noted therapist and author of several books, including The Wounded Heart (1990), Bold Love (1992), Intimate Allies (with Tremper Longman, 1995); The Healing Path (1999), and God Loves Sex (with Tremper Longman; forthcoming). He is the founder of The Seattle School for Theology and Psychology; he teaches there, as well as traveling and speaking widely.
This fall 102 students in my class on Faith, Hope and Love will be reading The Little Manual. The class is an introductory class to help students in The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology enter into a conversation on epistemology and the therapeutic process.
I discovered Esther when I taught a class at Covenant Theological Seminary many moons ago. I heard a student rave about her work. I discovered a woman whose integral brilliance was deeply attached to the glory and joy of knowing. In many ways, that is an essential description of the therapeutic process. One can’t offer counsel unless one knows the person to whom the counsel is offered.
I may not know the life and story of the person, but I must know something about them in light of the revealed Word of God. If I am in a conversation with a person on a plane who asks: “Should I have an affair?” I don’t need to know any more than I am interacting with an image bearer who is contemplating a profound choice and I know the answer because I know God’s love of relationship, fidelity, and joy. No—don’t have an affair.
I have been traveling often for the last 35 years of my ministry (currently over 2 Million miles with United) and I have never been asked that question—I have counseled for 35 years and no one has ever asked me that question. Seldom if ever do people engage the deepest matters of the heart that directly.
But I have been in 1000’s of conversations that walk near the precipice of many profound questions that Scripture answers with immense clarity. The issue is how do we translate the truth of God’s story into the stories of those whom we encounter.
It is like a Rubix cube on steroids. The heart is complex and profoundly broken and beautiful. Seldom are there simple paths to truth or elementary building blocks that once understood enable a person to scaffold truth to the next level. It is more like a labyrinth that must be walked with deftness to escape the inevitable Minotaur guarding the heart.
Walking into complexity that is rich, deep, broken, and full of life and death requires epistemic humility. It requires the guide to become a student who sits at the feet of the person they wish to help in order to know the route to the heart. It is not the foolish notion that a good therapist is merely helping the client come to know what they have always known. It is in fact a stance that there is a knowing that both client and therapist must jointly participate in that is both known and unknown.
Certain things will come into light and then fade. Other realities will dawn and then be eclipsed by other matters. But in the process of submitting to the Spirit who brings memory and truth to the stories of our life, we both will discover that what we know is far less certain than we first thought. On the other hand, what we come to know will alter us in ways we could not have conceived or controlled.
Esther invites me to the holiness and love of submitting my knowing to a God who loves to make his glory known. There is no greater privilege than to know as long as what we know changes the way we love. I read The Little Manual at a time I was weary of my calling, overwhelmed with the cares of people. What I discovered in reading was the privilege and joy of being an epistemic explorer is far greater than the weariness. All true knowledge is meant to bring us to worship, to play, and to eat well. I love the feast I am invited to taste in the process of knowing.
LM and Teaching
Dru Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at The King's College in New York City and author of Biblical Knowing: A Scriptural Epistemology of Error (Cascade, 2013). He was the Templeton Senior Research Fellow in Analytic Theology at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Shalem Center (now Herzl Institute) in Jerusalem, Israel (2012-13). Currently, he serves as the co-chair for the Hebrew Bible and Philosophy program unit in the Society of Biblical Literature.
Just prior to every semester, the excitement grew. As an undergraduate, I knew that I was going to sit in a room with an expert over fourteen weeks. I knew, no matter what the topic, that I was going to change, hearing age-old terms popularized in culture with new ears—a new grasp, with depth, of an old world. After Introduction to Psychology, "anal-retentive" was no longer a word to be giggled at, but a term with a history, story, and trajectory. I could place it, as it were, in a field of other unseemingly related people and ideas: from Freud, Erikson, and Piaget to "phallic," "fixation," and "psychotherapy." The old world I had known since birth was new, alive with meanings and implications. What, exactly, happened to me? Of course, I was the same me before and after Introduction to Psychology. The world was the same too, but I now saw it differently.
As a college professor myself, I need to understand exactly what happens in the weeks of a semester. Beyond having a grasp of the content, I need to understand what happens to my students and me. A Little Manual for Knowing taps quickly and deeply into that process and helps me to grasp the process of knowing in order to steer it in the classroom. As anyone who teaches knows, it's tricky. Being a subject matter expert is only a small step toward transforming students into good knowers, capable of "dancing" with the skills we impart in class. LM delightfully and quickly lays out the constituent parts that we often neglect in order to rest on the laurels of our expertise.
As a young adjunct professor, I was struggling to teach a philosophy course and was frustrated by some of my students who did not want to encounter the material. If I can be honest, they wanted to do what was required in order to make the grade desired and not much more. I resisted their attempts to figure out my grading patterns and they were frustrated with me. Upon sharing this with Esther Meek, she asked me quite pointedly, "Do you love your students?" She explained that if I did not at least care for them as humans and learners of whom I had the privilege of teaching, they should not trust me because I had not invited them to learn. Hence, they were only willing to play the grade game with me.
Meek lucidly extols, not just explains, the reality of knowing in all its human complexities, messiness, and profound liberties. She distills in LM what she has laid down more extensively in other works. As a professional educator (and former pastor and IT manager) myself, articulating the structure of covenantal relationship helps me to avoid common pitfalls in the road to knowing, especially when bringing others along with me. Meek carefully opens up and itemizes the entire experience of coming to know—front to back. She then weaves the parts together so that readers understand the importance of each in their place.
As a brief example, we've all had teachers who delight in bringing us to the precipice of an epiphany. Who doesn't love seeing an "Aha!" moment on a student's face? Many of us have also had a popular teacher who only brought us to a series of epiphanies strung together like pearls on a necklace, which mostly serves to keep us students in awe of that teacher's intellect or insight. Like a TED Talk, it feeds us the epiphanies we crave without ever intellectually "teaching us to fish." However, LM helps readers to understand why they cannot merely drop a student off at an epiphany. It helped me to decipher why the elements she calls "love" and "pledge" require me to bring students beyond my own personality and insight—allowing them to feel the implications yet-to-be-fully-grasped, to try out the ideas for truth, and to experience the epistemic rest of knowing something well. Meek helps me to understand the import of these for the student, but also for me.
Semesters are even more exciting for me now because I understand—front to back—my own pedagogical responsibilities, my desires for students to comprehend, and how knowing actually works as a part of the way we were created to be. Meek's text successfully helps me to understand myself as a privileged part of that process!
I especially liked the questions at the end of chapters. I think they really make it feel more dialogical (even more so than LTK). I especially liked the chapter called "Invitation." In some ways, it seems that Meek needed to write Loving to Know in order to write this book. I really think this book is what was needed. When I walk undergrads through LTK, they get it and feel the implications. However, rarely can they wrap their mind around the whole thing. LM seems to offer the whole thing quickly and clearly, which will be very helpful for many.
I'm very excited to get this into the hands of undergrads who often cannot figure out why I'm making these (what seems to them) bizarre claims about reality, truth, and our access to it. The problem is often that they are trying to categorize my thinking. Or, in reality, they are trying to do meta-epistemology. LM requires the reader to "do the exercises," which means that they are doing epistemology itself, reflecting on how they actually know things.