God’s Name in Vain: The Rights and Wrongs of Religion in Politics

Carter, Stephen L.

Basic Books, 2000

p. 157

Tells of Hannah Arendt’s book on thinking (The Life of the Mind), and of her observation that in Plato’s dialogues, e.g., in the Crito and in the Republic, Socrates sometimes would simply stop and think. And that’s what Plato writes. “Here Socrates paused to think.” This is not what contemporary culture encourages. On TV it would be dead time. Even in church–places where you’d suppose a little thinking would happen, people try to fill in all the silences. No pondering. And so with standardized tests. They don’t measure reflectiveness. They measure speed. The faster student is said to be more intelligent, but maybe he’s just faster. “We train them not to stop and think but to think fast.” TV talk shows want a lot of snap, crackle, and pop. “When we lose reflectiveness and wisdom, we lose a kind of closeness to reality, the ability to see the things that exist only in nuance, in hidden corners, in the uncommon details of life. And when we lose sight of detail, we lose sight of God, whose magic is in the details.”