Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday's Meditation: The Parable of the Brilliant Baby

Once there was a baby both brilliant and proud. He was brilliant because he grasped human language at just three weeks of age. Indeed, he could talk at six weeks. But he didn’t talk, because he was proud.
Why should I use the same language everyone else uses?” he thought. “That’s just imitating what others do.”
So instead of speaking his mother-tongue he made up his own language. At first everyone thought the infant was simply babbling like all babies do. The baby boy spoke clearly and directly in a way that made perfect sense to him: “Mother, I’m hungry,” he would say, but she did not understand his words. Because she loved her child she was acutely aware of his needs and managed to understand his hunger without understanding his language. “The fools,” thought Baby Brilliant. “Anyone can speak their language, but I have invented my own. I refuse to imitate their common speech.” Indeed, he also rejected the facial expressions common his culture. He knew that smiles meant happiness, but when he was happy he would squeeze his eyes shut and puff out his cheeks. When he was angry he would not frown, but instead hold his ears and breath. He had invented new expressions, but no one knew what he was feeling.
At a time when other children were learning their first words and beginning to communicate with words like “Momma” and “Dadda,” he was ready to discourse on the meaning of life. Of course, he had no one to talk to but it did not matter--his great intellect was company enough. He despised other babies and the parents who insisted they imitate the ways of society. Imitation was for sheep, brilliance demanded a new language, new thoughts, new ways. So great was his pride that he refused to communicate with others or imitate their language.
Eventually, at a time when other babies grew into children and toddled off to school (to imitate their elders even more) the Brilliant Baby was packed off to an institution for children “non-responsive to their surroundings.” 

There, at the institution, the night nurse fell asleep while reading at her desk, but not before underlining these words by the author: "A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon."

What meaning do you assign to this story?  I’d love to know.


  1. Everyone needs community. Being proud will get you nowhere. No matter how smart you are you can't just write others off. Brilliance is a waste if you do not share it.

  2. What I take from it is that relationship and intelligence aren't mutually exclusive except to the very foolish. Conformity within the constructs of the Kingdom of Heaven doesn't lead to loss of self, but lends to the blooming of one's the truest self.

    To feel that you are special or set apart isn't a crime. To let that feeling transform you into a misanthrope, well, that's crippling.

  3. Conformity is foolish to the wise... I wonder how many intelligent people are living in their own little worlds? Yet... We are called to fellowship one with another. We cannot lead others to Christ if we isolate ourselves. However, we are not supposed to conform to this world but be transformed in Christ Jesus. There is a thin line that we need to be aware of. People look to Christians to see if we are "real" and not just hypocrites on Sundays... Who are you in Christ and would you stand up to their scrutiny?

    Would it not have been better for this "Brilliant Baby" to communicate with others and teach them and share with them what he knew instead of "keeping it all to himself"? I'm very grateful that the Lord did not do that!

  4. Here's the final sentences, which I chose to leave out of the post:

    "There, at the institution, the night nurse fell asleep while reading at her desk, but not before underlining these words by the author:'A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon.""

  5. Maggie Murphy SeverinoMarch 29, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    I think we all do this many times: when we expect our spouses to read our minds; when we close off and pout when we are not understood; when we used catch phrases designed to make others feel left out instead of drawn in. It's a great lesson to be generous and seek to understand rather than to be understood. Thanks for sharing this, Ray!