Russell Johnson, who played the role of the Professor on the 60s hit sitcom, “Gilligan’s Island” passed away a few years ago. Of that entire crew, Gilligan, Skipper, Ginger, Thurston Howell III, his wife Lovey, and Mary Ann, the Professor was the only one who had any sense at all. The rest were absolutely clueless, naive castaways. I know it is not politically correct these days to use the word “dumb,” but let’s face it, they were “dumb” and “dumber.”
In one episode, Mr. Howell asked, “Professor, what exactly are your degrees?”
“Well,” the Professor said, “I have a B.A. from U.S.C., a B.S. from U.C.L.A., an M.A. from S.M.U., and a Ph.D. from T.C.U.”
Mr. Howell chuckled in return: “Well, I don’t know much education, but it sounds like a marvelous recipe for alphabet soup.”
When I was a young boy my dad would quiz me with this, “Pete and Repeat were sitting on a log. Pete fell off. Who was left?” I would naively answer, “Repeat.” And here we go again.
Another little boy was asked by his dad, “Son, are you wise or otherwise?” If he said, “Wise,” his dad would remind him that “He who is wise in his own eyes, is a fool.” If he said “otherwise,” his dad would question him about such a response.
Let me answer the question about the “Gilligan’s Island” crew. Except for the Professor, they were “otherwise.”
Jesus said that His followers were to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” You don’t hear many preachers preach on the “mind” part of that saying. Some religious people in general, and some Christians in particular, have long bought into the notion that ignorance is a mark of righteousness. As some would boast, “Poor ole dumb me, all I do is love Jesus.”
As a freshman at a Baptist university, I must admit that I was suspicious of certain professors. I knew that little pointy-headed devils were lurking behind pages of my biology, psychology, and theology texts. With time, however, I have come to appreciate those professors for their wisdom and insight. I was a young fool. There is an old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, old dogs and young fools have much in common.
Some in our society want easy answers to difficult questions. I call it bumper sticker theology. I love bumper stickers on your car, not mine. “God is Love” fits nicely on a bumper sticker, but to explore the implications of that in a fallen world is very complex. We can’t address the theodicy question, why a good God permits evil, with simple answers. There are many difficult questions that will remain unanswered. But, I would much rather live with complex questions for which there are no answers than shallow answers that go unquestioned.
So, are you wise or otherwise? I would rather be wise like the Professor than otherwise like the rest of the crew.