Distinctions (and The Lost Tools of Learning)

In the older days of social media, I remember being amused whenever I would come across Facebook or Myspace profiles that listed favorite music as "I LIKE ALL KINDS OF MUSIC!!11!!xoxox!!!"  (Today, they might also list Jesus as their "bae.")

This of course only meant they liked no music at all.  Somewhat endearingly, they failed to realize that there is a difference between consuming something and truly enjoying it.  Or as the saying goes, "When everything is beautiful, nothing is."  Without standards, there are (oddly) no standards.

With Dorothy Sayers in her essay "The Lost Tools of Learning," we heartily affirm, "Distinguo!"  Distinguish.  Differentiate.  Discriminate.  With King Solomon in his prayer for wisdom, we want to "discern between good and evil" (1 Kings 3:9), between truth and falsehood.  When everything is true, nothing is.

And yet with Robert Louis Stevenson, we also know that

The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.

So which is it?  Be choosy, or love a ton of things?  Both.  As we teach our children, we teach them to love as many things as possible (our neighbor, studying, hikes, the gospel, quilting, peanut butter, presidential biographies) and to hate a few things, too (lies, low standards, death, the Devil, and United Airlines).  But when we pursue interests and decide what we like, we must always remember the way God is: before anything else, he created a Garden full of countless Yesses with a single tree of No.  Which means, at the very least, that we should like most kinds of music.