By Terry Pettee
Originally published on November 29, 2017
I have already confessed to being an amateur etymologist. That is a person who studies the meanings and origins of words.
I am also a homespun philosopher. You already know what a philosopher is. My etymologist alter-ego will bring you up to speed on the meaning of homespun.
Homespun means unsophisticated, unpolished, unrefined or rustic. As a philosopher, I satisfy all those qualities.
I had a philosophy course in college. It was taught by a professor who actually majored in philosophy as an undergraduate. And, as if that was not enough, he went on to earn a Master of Arts Degree in Philosophy. I guess that puts the alphabet soup of M.A.D. in Philosophy after his name.
That college philosophy course reminds me of a GPS device I once owned. It was constantly recalculating and never quite got me exactly to where I wanted to be. I suppose that is why I remain a homespun philosopher. I have learned it does not require an advanced degree in philosophy to wander the landscape of thought and never quite come to a final certain destination.
Incidentally, I got a “C” in that philosophy class. I am proud of that “C”. It means I am just a common everyday thinker. I am not brilliant enough to get so lost in thought as to never be quite sure I reached where I was headed for in the first place.
I find being homespun brings me closer to an understanding of the realities of the world I actually do live in. Nevertheless, I ponder the imponderables, just not on the same level of those educated folks with alphabets following their names.
Here’s a for-instance.
If the Bible is correct, and I believe it is, we humans are made in the image of God. I take it, that means God’s character and attributes, not his physical appearance. So, the big philosophical question I ponder is this:
Does God have a sense of humor?
I believe he does. And I submit as proof the platypus.
The platypus is a semi-aquatic mammal with a furry body, a duck-like-bill, flat-rudder-tail, clawed-webbed-feet and is the only mammal that lays eggs.
I think that’s a hoot.
Now you may not see the connection between a platypus and God having a sense of humor. I can only say, respectfully and without malice, that is the difference in thinking that separates the layman from the homespun philosopher. In short, I have thunk it through.
I can hear the rebuttals from all of you nay-sayers. You are saying my journey through thought does not lead me to a logical conclusion.
Ah-ha, I got you. Philosophy is not supposed to be logical. That is why someone who studies philosophy gets an Arts degree not a Science degree. In my own homespun way, I have come to think of it as a degree in abstract art.
The etymologist side of me has to give you the origin of the word Philosophy. The Greek word Philo means love. The Greek word Sophos means wisdom. And you remember the meaning of homespun. The combination of the three fits me perfectly.
I would love to be wise but I am much too unsophisticated to pull it off.
Instead, I have to look for wisdom beyond the limitations of my pondering permutations. I have found the Bible to be the most reliable resource for wisdom. In the Bible, there is a verse that particularly suits my inclination toward homespun philosophy. It is Ephesians 2:10.
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
I like the idea that God has a plan for me. I have purpose.
The GPS of my ambition points me toward good works. I like being useful.
I find it comforting to think my To-Do-List remains incomplete. I still have value.
It is a homespun philosophy but it suits me just fine.
Terry Pettee is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University where his undergraduate study prepared him for a career in secondary education. Prior to attending EMU, he was Editor-In-Chief of the Erie Square Gazette while a student at the St. Clair County Community College. Between his community college and university years, he was Marysville Editor of the St. Clair County Independent Press where he was a newspaper reporter and columnist. After a brief teaching stint, his life’s journey led him into human resource and industrial relations management; a career spanning four decades. Now retired, Terry writes both Christian values based fiction and non-fiction for his own amusement, which is babble-speak for saying he has only a single published book to his credit.
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