Pastor's Corner

21 Oct
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Mid-Week Challenge

I’m beginning to feel my age, but I’m not that old.  Normally when you hear someone say that it has something to do with the limiting of their physical abilities.  No, I cannot keep up with my son running cross country or match the energy level of my teenage daughter, but physically I still feel great.  When I say I’m feeling my age I’m talking about technology, music and what those younger than me call art.  I find it harder to relate because many of them don’t get my references in conversation.  I’ll say something like “patience of Job” and they will look at me funny.  I’ll joke to one of the teens on my son’s team, “you’ve got hair like Samson, too bad your arms don’t match his.”  They will look at me like and say, “uh, I don’t get it.”  I thought it was because that is how we used to look at the old guys who tried to joke with us when we were teens, but what I have come to learn is they really don’t get it.  It’s not that they don’t get the joke because some old guy is telling it; they honestly don’t know the common stories of the Bible.  I had this confirmed for me when I read an article by Luther Ray Abel titled:   How Biblical Illiteracy Is Ruining the Humanities. In the essay Abel points out how difficult it is attending a liberal-arts school in the Midwest where very few students are familiar with the basics of the Bible.    

The essay begins:  I attend a well-to-do liberal-arts school in the Midwest. The professors are wonderful and the classmates impressive. However, I find myself consistently pained by one thing: Many have little to no familiarity with even the most widely known Bible stories.  When a class must stop at almost every biblical reference in the poetry of Emily Dickinson — so that a student or the professor can explain who John the Baptist was or why the Book of Revelation is kind of a big deal — the quality and pace of instruction decline.  A student attending college in the humanities should know who Noah was and what made his boat better than most. The student need not believe that Noah existed, or that his animal magnetism was as great as is said, or how long-lived his children were. Yet he ought to at least be aware of the fact that, say, the image of the dove returning to the vessel with the olive branch in its beak repeats as a symbol of peace and salvation throughout the Bible and Western literature.  When schools, and the parents whose voices influence said institutions, balk at the thought of their children being exposed to the Bible — not as a religious text but as an affecting collection of stories — the kids are deprived of the groundwork necessary to approach the Great Books with any level of background understanding. 

That’s exactly what I’m experiencing.  It is hard to go through life together when we don’t have a shared pool of knowledge to draw from. Different generations have never agreed on music, but we have always had the great literary works.  Some have mocked this conclusion and point to more modern resources we need to embrace, but it would be foolish to abandon the Great Books. Able concludes the essay with this:   No, the Great Books cannot be replaced because to do so would be to scrub history, to cast it as a backward time of no value to our present selves. The hubris of such a line of thought beggars belief. We are just as vain, just as brutal, and just as fallen as those who came before us. Thankfully, the Great Books allow us a window into how such a vain, brutal, and fallen people as we overcame these impulses in order to have a freer, wealthier, and more peaceful world than has been seen.

We cannot, we must not, escape our past.  It has shaped who we are as a culture and it helps to explain the differences. Frustration and confusion can be explained by the fact that generations cannot communicate with each other because we don’t have a common vocabulary.  In the past we grew out of our differences and embraced our roles as adults because we learned to speak the language.  This go around, it looks like that might not be true.  Let’s work harder to bridge the gap and make sure the stories of the Bible are part of our everyday life.      

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

Serving the Savior,

Bro. Jonathan

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