1 Chronicles 29.18:
O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our ancestors, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts towards you
Word of Hope
Todayis National Freethought Day. The National Day Calendar says this day was promoted by several groups and that:
The day promotes logic and evidence-based decision making. Additionally, the observance offers an opportunity for freethinkers to have a sense of community. It also provides a way to open a dialogue and share their opinions…
…The organizers selected the date of October 12th due to a series of events dating back to the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. Throughout the trials, questionable evidence and accusers’ claims of witnessing devils and specters caused the case to be halted. Eventually, the hysteria surrounding the case and a letter written by the Massachusetts Governor William Phips on October 12th declared “spectral evidence” inadmissible in court. Up until that point, at least 20 accused had already been executed. The governor’s letter saved hundreds of lives.
…At some point, the trials did resume and “spectral evidence” was allowed but largely discounted and those convicted were swiftly pardoned by Phips.
Many years ago I heard a preacher who was a biblical literalist say something that has stuck with me. He said that there are two ways to approach biblical proof. One is the scientific method and one is the historical method. Scientific method cannot prove Jesus existed or that any of the Bible is literally true. For that matter scientific method cannot prove George Washington existed.
Scientific method involves a theory expressed, tested, and repeated. This is how vaccines are developed, for example. Historical method involves looking at the influence a person had on the times in which they lived, the records of their deeds, and impact of their presence. It does not imply absolute truth. George Washington existed and this can be shown by all of these things. But, young George did not cut down the cherry tree. That was a fiction created to expound on his integrity. Historical truth is found by examining the stories and finding commonality. ‘Washington and the cherry tree’ is a metaphor. It is fiction; but it is true to the person.
When I was in high school, a catholic priest in theology class gave us an exercise which he said would either destroy or embolden our faith. He gave us a form to fill out on the stories of the resurrection. We looked at who came to the tomb; whom did they met or not, what did they see, who did they tell; etc.. Because we don’t often hear these stories together we may not realize how different the details are. One of the most important events, perhaps the most important, is not detailed well. Spoiler alert: there are two definite points of communality; Jesus was buried and three days later he was not in the tomb.
And here is how it was explained to us that this comparison would make or break our faith. Either we would call the whole thing as farce because the most significant thing about Jesus, his resurrection, was not clearly reported; or we would realize that there is an overriding message about Jesus that transcends the details.
So, this priest took a bold step and called upon our free will and free thinking. I cannot say how the class as a whole fell out on this. Being someone who is geared toward the metaphorical I personally had no problem understanding the details, told many years after the fact, might differ; but that there is an underlying truth.
So, I invite you today to examine your faith. I believe that an honest evaluation of the message of the Bible will lead to a deeper faith for many. I also believe that it will lead many to a different walk. We must be able to live, love and respect all those differences.
Great Creator who gave us hands for reaching out, hearts for loving, minds for thinking, guide us to use all you have given us for the benefit of all your people and all your creation. Lead us in truth beyond facts into an experience of the true meaning of living.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare.