Posted tagged ‘trivia’

Remembering What Has Been Forgotten

May 27, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           May 27, 2019


There is trivia and then there is truth. Trivia consists of those little morsels of interesting facts that may be known by a small percentage of the populace. Like yesterday’s “Trivia Hive” question: By what name is Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner better known? 

Give up?

Answer: Sting.

Interesting, right? But it does nothing to effect the rest of my day. It’s a trivia fact. Add an ‘L’ to trivia and you have trivial!

But then there is truth. Truth changes the way we live, the way we think, what grounds us. Truth is timeless. It is rooted in the past, lived in the present, and remembered for the future. Truth that is forgotten causes a drifting of our beliefs and life principles.

And yet, in our culture, truth seems to have been minimized. I think about this for three reasons: One, that it’s Memorial Day, a day rooted deep into our history, begun in 1866 following the Civil War and originally known as Decoration Day; two, because I see the disconnection between today’s younger generations and knowledge of the past; and three, because there is a tendency for truth to be distorted by those who either don’t know it or have agendas that seek to challenge it.

When we forget what has been we creep towards the edge of the dangerous cliff that leads to a slippage into old mistakes. When we forget where we have been we risk being careless about where we are going.

My wife and I were recently at the Luxembourg American Cemetery. 5,073 American soldiers, who lost their lives during World War II, mostly during the Ardennes Offensive, better known as the Battle of the Bulge, are buried there. As we gazed upon the rows of white crosses across 17 acres it was impossible to not think about what had happened and why they were here. The freedoms we so often take for granted today were solidified by their sacrifices. 

It is in that realization that I have my greatest appreciation, but it also in that realization that I cringe, for there is a forgetfulness in our midst that blurs the price of the past. The truth we forget gets bundled with the trivia that we tend to disregard. When we forget the principles of our democracy we become vulnerable to the corruption of the powers that be and the self-centeredness of personal privilege.

Never forget where we’ve been, because it is vital to the direction of where we need to be going.

Sixth Grade Trivia

February 21, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    February 21, 2019


Sixth graders have a warped understanding of a variety of things. Like the kid who is concerned about his hair looking awesome, but unaware that the hoodie jacket he’s been wearing for the last month smells putrid! That kind of warped!

Also, most of them would not do well in a game of Trivial Pursuit. If you asked a class of sixth graders what kind of cheese you would find on the moon a few of them would say “Swiss! Because of all of those craters!”

After all, it was a European cow that jumped over the moon!

Today at the end of each class I asked a trivia question and gave out a prize to the answer that was closest to being correct. Cell phones were required to be facedown!

Q. What is the distance in miles from Anchorage, Alaska to Key West, Florida?

A few hands shoot up instantly! Usually the first ones to provide an answer are not candidates for the school quiz bowl team.

I motion for a boy, whose hand is waving back and forth like Kansas wheat ready to be picked.

“Two miles!”

The girl beside him giggles, so I call on her next.

“A million miles!”

“It’s somewhere between those two,” I clarify. Several faces are transformed from genius to confused when I say that.

The answers keep coming. “Two hundred miles”, “a thousand”, “twenty-five thousand.” Finally, a young lady, who has been hanging back patiently, raises her hand and I call on her.

“Five thousand?”

“Close enough! The answer is 5,019!” I throw her a snack sized bag of Skittles.

I hear the whines of unfairness echoing as they exit the classroom. “I was going to say that!!”

On to the next class.

Q. How many words are in Webster’s International Dictionary?

“Call on me first!” urges a blonde-haired boy who usually causes his teachers to grind their teeth. I give him the okay and he opens the bidding.


A clueless young lady counters with “6,000!”

Another. “7,000!”

I say, “Is this The Price Is Right or something?”

One self-assured young man offers an answer with boldness, like he’s buying a Honus Wagner baseball card. “25,000!” He looks around as if a camera is about to take his picture for the Society page in Sunday’s newspaper.

           The guesses continue and range from 1,000 to 95,000. The class is dumbfounded when I tell them the answer is 476,000, an unfathomable figure for a few of them who haven’t progressed that far past their first grade primer book! 

“The average adult knows between 20 and 30 thousand words,” I inform them.

One boy replies, “Mine’s at least that!”, and he might be right. He looks like someone who takes the vocabulary quiz in each issue of Reader’s Digest.

Most sixth graders know more about video games, Harry Potter, and electronic devices than I will ever know. Trivia, however…no!

Of course, if I was asked a trivia question on any one of those three things my answer would be about as close as Key West is to Anchorage!

God Trivia and Trivializing

June 11, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    June 11, 2013


Our family used to play “Trivial Pursuit”- the non-Biblical version. We tried to play “Biblical Pursuit” and came away feeling that we really didn’t know Jesus because we couldn’t answer the question “Where was Benaiah, the valiant fighter and son of Jehoiada, from?” Many of you immediately responded “Kabzeel.” It was an any question, I know, but we couldn’t come up with it.

Trivial Pursuit wasn’t much better. I thought I was the cat’s meow when it came to the “Sports and Leisure” category, and would end up getting something about “cricket.”

Trivial Pursuit, the pursuit of trivia, was popular for a number of years. My brother, an expert on meaningless trivia, was actually a panelist on a call-in radio show back in Lexington, Kentucky, for a couple of years.

There have been a number of books written that deal with Bible trivia. Just google “amazing Bible facts” and see what comes up.

The thing about trivia is that is fails to create intimacy. It’s interesting, and may even cause us to open our mouths in sheer unbelief, but trivia doesn’t bring us to know God even as we’re knowing about God.

Almost twenty years ago Don McCullough wrote a book entitled The Trivialization of God. One of the points that he makes is that there has been a tendency within the church to de-emphasize the God of the Bible- all powerful, all-knowing, holy and majestic- and create a God that is more comfortable for our lives. The holiness of God is hard to focus on because it has such tremendous implications for the life of the believer and the church.

McCullough’s point is that the church has steadfastly lost its influence because it has trivialized the holy things of God. He writes, “We prefer the illusion of a safer deity, and so we have pared God down to more manageable proportions. Our era has no exclusive claim to the trivialization of God. This has always been the temptation and the failure for the people of God. (The Trivialization Of God, page 14)

Trivia is safer than deep relationship. Holiness, however, is God’s gift to the church. The realization that God has called us to be a community of love that seeks to reflect his holy love…is life lived at a deeper level.

I may not know where Benaiah was from, but I do know a little bit about what God has called us to.