(Back in the old days)
No home was without a gigantic KING JAMES Bible.
Families diligently read Bible verses every day.
Inside these huge Bibles were extra pages whereupon a family listed Births (dates) Deaths (date) baptism, graduation - milestones of personal importance.)
My great grandmother (Florence Avery) read her Bible every day.
She had done so with her son when he was small (my grandfather was born in 1890).
My grand dad in his later years was fascinated and obsessed with discovering the "True" religion.
He would go out on the back porch and read books on Theosophy, Swedenborgism, Paramahansa Yogananda, Mormonism - etc. etc.
Well - he discussed these things WITH ME!
Imagine a 10-year-old boy, an only child, no kids in the neighborhood to play with, sitting with his grandfather discussing the teachings of some weird religious figure!!
He would speak and I would listen.
I remember when he invited two Mormon Elders into our living room!
He made me sit with him and listen.Two young men in black suits, white shirts, black tie; so earnest and wide-eyed as they lectured us using a large felt display board on a tripod.
It was kindergarten level. Paper doll-like figures were attached to the board as the Elder spoke.
They gifted us with a Book of Mormon and instructed us: "Tonight pray and ask Heavenly Father to activate your heart and mind and spirit as you determine if what I told you today is Truth or a Lie."
(**Spoiler** It was a LIE).
I was deeply flattered that my grandpa included me in his search and I wanted to live up to his confidence I could comprehend.
(**Spoiler** I discovered the cult of Jehovah's Witnesses and grandpa was NOT amused!)
That was much later, of course - I'm getting ahead of myself.
GRANDPA could print out quotations with perfect hand-painted letters and hang them over my bed for me to MEMORIZE. If could repeat the quote back to him the next day, I would receive one crisp new dollar bill!
He didn't realize he had released the KRAKEN!
This was chocolate cake to me. I could get rich!
Eventually, he moved on from Religion to other topics and more quotes would appear. Proverbs and Psalms from the Bible,
famous Author quotations, etc.
I was cleaning out his bank account!
Grandpa tried to up the ante and challenge me with more and more difficult things.
1. He gave me a book on Tying Knots, of all things.
I'd get a dollar for each knot I'd learn. Yeah Baby!!
2. He gave me a book on cow branding symbols!
(Each ranch would design a tricky brand to thwart cattle theft and being able to identify a BRAND was...a thing.)
I had a page of more about 100 brands. He carefully created flash cards
BY HAND, and quizzed me. (I'm not kidding!) That was the fastest half-hundred dollars a little kid ever earned in Fort Worth, Texas.)
3. SPELLING! (I could go on for an hour about this one.)
I was given a book on commonly misspelled words and I sucked it up and spit it out for cash!
4. MEMORY TRICKS book: yes, the most important book I ever read! Strategies for remembering anything (backwards or forwards). It has proved EXTREMELY useful in my lifetime.
5. Poems? Yep.
6. Composers! Yes. I could recognize classical music from just a few seconds listening to a random needle drop on a phonograph record. (This sounds like a BIG FAT LIE to most people) I swear I can do this even today. Thanks, grandpa!
Why am I telling you this?
I'll get to that in a few seconds.
BUT FIRST ...
An older person who takes an interest in a lonely, shy child and rewards them for learning something has a HUGE effect on their entire life. I started out my life confident I knew things and could do things in my brain.
I continued those habits, teaching myself. (Vocabulary word: Autodidact -self teacher)
The 3 most important and useful things I discovered doing this was:
1. A huge vocabulary (quite useful to a writer and reader).
I learned 16 new vocabulary words each day until I graduated High School.
2. A competent memory (I could prepare for a test at school in no time at all.)
I memorized Pi to 50 decimal places and the Period Table of Elements , Rime of the Ancient Mariner, etc
3. Methodology for learning difficult subjects.
Here is why I'm telling you this.
This morning, I heard an old expression I haven't heard since I was a little boy.
"By the skin of his teeth..."
What the hell! I KNEW where it originated automatically.
I memorized 853 scriptures, you see... why wouldn't I know?
(Job 19:20), where Job says, “I am escaped with the skin of my teeth,” presumably meaning he got away with nothing at all.
None of the above constitutes "intelligence."
It certainly doesn't qualify as "wisdom".
My grandfather identified or recognized something in me
that was also in himself.
FASCINATION and OBSESSION.
He and I were odd things as people.
If we were going to NOT be like other people, and I never have been, we needed a strategy to get through life somehow and he helped me develop tactics for learning, amusing myself, entertaining others, and that's about all it really is: a kind of magician's trick!
IT IS NOT INTELLIGENCE.
I became one of Jehovah's Witnesses for almost 20 years! That's not intelligent!
It was a religion which took advantage of my quirky 'talents' and gave me a showcase
for these otherwise useless obsessions!
What I have is a neurotic quirky heritable trait.
If you don't believe me - ask my children.
Cults exploit all kinds of people and tap into their need to be loved and accepted.
Cults put you to work and make you prove yourself in exchange for love, sort of like me learning to tie knots for $ from my grandpa!
JW religion tied me in knots with the promise of Paradise.
Only when I escaped did I find that paradise :)