Friday, February 4, 2011

Uncomplicated is not Unsophisticated

So, I am tasting wine the other day in Paso Robles, and the wine shop owner says to me, "that is a very sophisticated wine you are drinking." Not knowing much about viticultural parlance or wine jargon I asked the wine owner what he meant. "What is a sophisticated wine?" I asked. The wine owner paused before he looked over his spectacles and said, "A sophisticated wine is one where the flavors all blend together in a way that is mysterious and indecipherable." I decided not to press the question, since it seemed like one more query might be a grape too far. One more question might have actually gotten me thrown out of the wine shop. Had I been able to follow up, though, I would have said; "don't you just mean that the wine is complicated?" "How can a wine be sophisticated? How can wine be mysterious? It's just a drink..."

Let me get to my main point. I feel that a lot of things that are simply uncomplicated in this life, are given the label unsophisticated.

Let me give an example. I have a friend who works hard from 6:00AM each day until around 8:00PM every evening. My friend is a contractor who works for the state of California building roads and bridges and such. He's very smart with building and constructing, though his grammar may not always be complete. He uses a lot of colorful metaphors. My friend is a Christian, a good dad, a football coach, a good husband, and an all round nice guy. He doesn't read too many books, or newspapers, or engage in polemic discussions about politics. He wouldn't be caught dead in a wine bar, but give him a can of Miller Lite, and he lights up. He doesn't have any dark areas of sin (that I know of) or any glaring areas of personal existential angst. He works hard, loves God, loves his family, and knows what he thinks and believes. Now, let me ask you a question. Is my friend Uncomplicated or Unsophisticated?

The answer is obvious. He is uncomplicated.

Remember that the word Sophisticated comes from the Greek root - Sophos - (which is where we derive our words sophomoric, and sophistry, and practical, flashy wisdom - sophia). Early sophists were people you shouldn't trust, because they told you things you wanted to hear, not what you needed to hear. Sophists were teflon-tongued con men who swilled wine in wine bars and suggested that drinks can be sophisticated...I digress.

Actually, we are called to live uncomplicated lives. Jesus loved uncomplicated people. He reviled sophisticated ones...

The next time you hear someone describe another person as unsophisticated - ask yourself, is it unsophisticated or just uncomplicated...

All for Now,

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