Idiot savant comes from the French meaning “learned idiot”.
One who is learned about a particular subject or topic and yet continues to live in a way that is totally inconsistent with what one knows.
Eugene Peterson sheds insight about learned idiots in his book “Jesus Way.” He writes:
One of the chores to which my friend was routinely assigned by his parents was what they called “riding fence.” It was mindless work: he simply rode his horse along the barbed wire fence that enclosed the cattle, who were always, it seems. Looking for breaks or weaknesses. When he found one he repaired it…
He told me that cattle are the dumbest members of the entire livestock family, animals of “little brain.” But in one thing they are absolutely brilliant: they have a genius for finding a hole or weak place in a fence. And the moment they find it they are through it, leading their sister cows and brother bulls after them into dangerous terrain where they have no skills for protecting themselves or avoiding calamity. You then have to spend the next two or three days rounding them up and returning then to where they belong and be kept alive.
I never knew I had so much in common with cattle.
Idiot savants. Learned idiots.
Ones who know what to do and how to live, and yet don’t do what they know.
Alright. That’s too much learning and confessing and reflecting and stuff.
I’m going to go watch Sports Center…