Who and What is a Genius?

I have a friend who is appropriately an0nymous to all but me.  He writes letters to me and sends them by snail mail.  I honor him for being an honest and faithful friend and the forthright critic that he is.  He wrote the following to me:

May the Lord fill your life with love, joy, peace, and grace.

The subject today is genius.  Specifically, in what way it might apply to you.  Let us begin with a definition, in this case from the New Oxford American Dictionary.

“GENIUS: exceptional intellectual or creative power of other natural ability; a person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative, either generally or in some particular respect.”

Certainly, no serious observer would contest that your intelligence is clearly above average.  But exceptional?  Hardly.  Then, can you be classified as exceptionally creative? You know, someone who has proposed whole new ways of viewing and/or understanding the universe and all that is in it (or at the least some significant part of parts thereof). Einstein and Darwin are extreme examples.

Or even John Howard Yoder, who for decades was considered the world’s premier Anabaptist theologian, but whose “genius” may in fact have been more the ability to wrap his notions in such obtuse and convoluted verbiage that he seemed to be saying things extremely profound.

My take on Martin Lehman  is one more of a follower, a person who adopts and adapts his thinking to those who he believes at any one time to have a hold on the ‘truth’.  Thus, you  were a once a staunch defender of the beliefs of your father.  And then of the Lancaster Conference bishop board.  And now you identify with so-called intellectuals and academics who reject as utter foolishness most of what you formerly believed, taught, and defended.

Sorry, but there seems to be nothing in the writings of the Old Fool (in my memories of your preaching) that in any way plows new ground, but instead has been proposed and developed previously by others.  There’s nothing necessarily wrong about that, but it is not genius as defined above.

While to your credit, you rejected the title of genius, your re-visiting of the concept in several columns suggest you enjoy, at least a bit, the thought that someone might think you are one.

Now to the question of whether God can be rightly called a genius?  And thus, whether all humans, since the Bible says we are created in God’s image, can in some sense be said to be geniuses?  First of all, ‘genius’ is a human attribute and to apply it to God seems to me somewhat anthropomorphic and thus at the least inappropriate.  And  second, doing so may even be blasphemous.  Thus, I think not.

A joyous 2018 to you and yours.   (S) by my an0nymous friend

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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2 Responses to Who and What is a Genius?

  1. very interesting comments.!!! Some of what the writes may apply to many others!?
    glad you shared this. your “not genius” writer/friend!!! 🙂

  2. Glenn Lehman says:

    I’d say thanks, but no thanks to this letter.

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