Episode 46: Inviting the Real, with Esther Lightcap Meek, author of A Little Manual for Knowing

In her book, A Little Manual for Knowing, Esther Lightcap Meek says that in order to truly know something, we must welcome “the yet-to-be-known with respect, humility, patience, and attentiveness.”  In fact, radical attentiveness, says Meek, is essential to true knowing.

In this episode of Spiritual Life and Leadership, Esther Lightcap Meek, unpacks what she calls “covenant epistemology,” an approach to knowing that acknowledges the relationship between the knower and the known.  This all sounds very academic, but it’s an approach that I believe can help us better life into the way God is calling us–actually calling us–to bring healing to the world.






  • Esther Lightcap Meek is the author of A Little Manual for Knowing and Professor of Philosophy at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.
  • Epistemology is the study of knowledge.
  • Esther grew up “a good little Christian girl.” In eighth grade, she began to question her faith, including, “How do I know there is a world outside my mind?”
  • Esther read The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer when she was in high school. It was then that her questions were not sin, they were philosophical.
  • When we make contact with reality, it’s like reality contacts us back.
  • There is an unfolding relationship between the “yet-to-be-knower” and the “yet-to-be-known.”
  • The dominant paradigm for thinking about knowledge is that knowledge is nothing more than information to be acquired.
  • Subsidiary Focal Integration is a way of describing the fact that knowing relies on a multitude of “subsidiary” knowings. In riding a bicycle, we focus on where we are going. Subsidiary to that focus is the knowledge of balance, pedaling, braking, steering, and so forth. When we know something we are integrating into our focus all the subsidiary patterns that make up that knowledge.
  • When we focus on the Bible as information to be gathered, we end up blocking reality.
  • When we talk to our neighbors about Jesus, Esther suggests that to our neighbor it often feels like we’re asking them to check their brain at the door.
  • When we memorize scripture, it’s not so that we can merely have scripture memorized. It is so that we can indwell scripture subsidiarily.
  • We are called to a generosity of attention. When we pay attention—truly pay attention—we invite the real.
  • You can find out more about Esther on her website, http://www.longingtoknow.com/, and on her Facebook page.
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