A noted Western philosopher, introduced to the world in 1926, was one day sitting on a log when he heard a buzzing sound. He was puzzled and fell to pondering. As his leading chronicler remembers the event, the philosopher reasoned along the following lines:

“ ‘If there’s a buzzing-noise, somebody’s making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you’re a bee.’

“Then he thought another long time, and said: ‘And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey.’

“And then he got up, and said: ‘And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it.’ ”

Now, even though this philosopher carries the strange title of Winnie-the-Pooh, and even though his work is mostly appreciated by children, this bit of reflection deserves our serious attention. After all, it resembles the way the American church is more and more thinking about God and discipleship.

This incident shows Pooh to be a pragmatic individualist. He cannot imagine the bees possessing an existence and purpose apart from his own use and interest. The Pooh is the quintessential consumer, entirely practical and entirely self-centered: The only reason for being a bee is to make honey, and the “only reason for making honey is so I can eat it.”

Thus reasoning, the Pooh has a range of other possibilities blocked from his vision. He cannot see, for instance, the wider ecological purpose of bees, how they weave into a fabric of flora and fauna not only by providing honey, but also by such crafts as pollinating flowers. Another thing Pooh cannot see is a theological purpose for bees: that in the wonder of their existence, they speak and spell the glory of a Creator God.


The Pooh, in short, is a bear of very little ...

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