Universe of Thought Companion

Earlier this week, Lead Team members David Walker, Cameron Walker, and Aaron Keyes sat down to talk about an idea we call the Universe of Thought. It was recorded as a full podcast episode and focused on the idea that multiple interpretations and perspectives on theology and the practice in church are essential for spiritual and emotional maturity.

Listening to their conversation in full is the only way to experience their wisdom. Throughout the talk, they mention traditions, authors, theories, and stories from the Bible. We thought we might expand on these quick references for the listeners. Consider this a podcast companion of sorts.


Daniel 1

While discussing the importance of educating ourselves through multiple sources and perspectives, Daniel 1 is mentioned. Specifically Daniel 1:17

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To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

It continues with verse 18 and 19

At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service.

The story tells of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, being exiled to Babylon to serve a new king. They remained faithful to God, kept their diet kosher, and focused on a variety of skills, knowledge, and wisdom, A\all of which is deemed as invaluable to the king. 


Teaching Through Questioning

When waxing on the need for curiosity, Cameron mentions the emphasis on questioning in Jewish teachings.

As Jews we believe that to defend a country you need an army, but to defend a civilization you need education.
— Britain's Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

 Judaism is unique by explicitly asking its followers to be inquisitive as much as they are obedient. In fact, not until the 19th century did Hebrew have a word that could translate to “obey.

Moses, Abraham, Jeremiah, and Job were full of questions for the Lord, and asked openly. All throughout the Torah is an emphasis on the need for children to ask questions, and that their parents should answer and obey the curiosity of the child. Through this perspective, children and parents (or students and teachers) walk the path of Holy curiosity together.


Psalm 84 and Hold The Fort

Aaron contrasts Psalm 84, as a call to seek forward, and the hymnal, Hold the Fort

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
    listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
    look with favor on your anointed one.

Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.

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Hold The Fort
Ho, my comrades, see the signal, waving in the sky!
Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.
Refrain:
“Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to Heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”
See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on;
Mighty ones around us falling, courage almost gone!
See the glorious banner waving! Hear the trumpet blow!
In our Leader’s Name we triumph over every foe.
Fierce and long the battle rages, but our help is near;
Onward comes our great Commander, cheer, my comrades, cheer!


Deuteronomy 20:19

In a discussion of humility and the need to learn from other people, there’s mention of Moses saying “Don’t cut down any fruit-bearing trees.” The passage says:

When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?

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Even foreign fruit should be eaten and allowed to nourish us. Much in the same way that foreign ideas should be heard to broaden our minds.


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Henri Nouwen

“To learn patience is not to rebel against every hardship.”

Cameron mentions Henri Nouwen’s incredible wisdom, and that it was ignored by entire denominations

An author of more than 39 books, Nouwen is an acclaimed priest and professor, having taught at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard. His derived his breath of knowledge from living with Trappist monks, the impoverished people of Peru, and a community of developmentally disabled in France. You can learn more about his life and work here.


The Downing Effect

In discussing the dangers of remaining closed off from different ideas, Aaron mentions the Downing Effect, which is when undereducated people overestimate their IQ, while well-educated people underestimate theirs. This was developed by C.L. Downing, and was later elaborated on by Justin Krueger and David Dunning to show that the effect didn’t just skew people’s perception of their IQ; they also had misconceptions of their skills and quality of work. It’s an illuminating study that illustrates those who are humble stay hungry for wisdom, insight, and perspective.



This conversation showed us that one of the most critical aspects of a heart on pilgrimage is to be ever seeking of new and challenging knowledge. We must always be asking ourselves...

Are you being honest with your sense of Holy curiosity?

Are you seeking wisdom and knowledge from different points of view?

Are you being patient with God?