By Bob Flynn
When my parents asked what I wanted for my 9th birthday, I said I wanted a Bible. My mother said I would have a Bible someday but she thought I was too young to be reading the Bible by myself. My father believed too much Bible-reading made people crazy. I don’t know that boy either. But I was there and I still have the Bible. I began with Genesis and read it all the way through. And I proved that my father’s opinion was correct. My Bible-reading drove him crazy. Why can’t snakes still talk? Is that why their tongues are split? What does begat mean? Why did a rabbi cut his concubine into 12 pieces? Head and two shoulders are three. Upper legs and lower legs make seven. How did he cut her into 12 pieces?
When I was 13 or 14, I took a free Bible class by mail. I bought a Scofield Reference Bible as a resource. Every week I received a new lesson and a test over the last lesson. I made an A on each lesson, even the dispensations. I knew more about the Bible but I didn’t believe it could be reduced to numbers and equations. One year in high school the Bible was taught as an elective. The first semester was taught by my Baptist pastor and I loved it. The second semester was taught by the Church of Christ pastor who was still tangled up in Ham, who saw his father Noah naked. Noah pronounced a curse on Canaan, Ham’s son, that he and his children would be servants. Noah’s curse still applied to black people anywhere in the world, but especially in Chillicothe. That seemed unfair then and it does now.
I majored in Religion at Baylor and minored in Greek. We translated the Gospel of John. I learned a lot about the Bible at Baylor, less so in the seminary where I studied Old Testament history while translating Ephesians. But the best teacher I had for reading and understanding the Bible is the writing process.
Writing allowed me to see a bit of the insight, the intent, the methods of those whose writing is in the Biblical canon. The first thing writing taught me was the shortcomings of language. There are not enough words.
Recently there was a story about scientists who had discovered an object in space that they couldn’t describe because they didn’t have anything to compare it with. “These warm, red planets are unlike any other known object in our universe. All four planets have different spectra, and all four are peculiar. The theorists have a lot of work to do now.” I liked the story because it reminded me of the task of the Gospel writers. If you can’t describe a strange object in space, how do you describe God?
“Ouch! What was that?”
“All I saw was wings … maybe a butterfly.”
“Nope, definitely not a butterfly; it just stung me!”
This exchange was near the top of the tower to slide into the pond at Camp Buckner last weekend. I made sure a stinger was not lodged in my leg and waited my turn to take the plunge into the pond below.
I even made another trip back up to slide again. This time, one of the youth got stung and then a child. We discovered a large (football size) wasp nest under a landing near the top of the tower. I guess it did not like us walking up there or maybe our sunscreen.
I did not let it slow me down from enjoining the experience of the slide or the retreat. Sure, it hurt. The pain went away after a while, but the reminder was still there as I felt intermittent burning.
Why can’t I always do that when faced with challenges — especially stings from people? Why can’t I just keep going and move forward? My natural response is to defend or attack back. How about you?
Philippians 2:3-8 tells us to look out for other’s interests and to be humble. Ephesians 4:29 tells us to choose our words wisely and use them only to help. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind and forgive.
Much easier said than done.
When responding to a sting from someone, hit your pause button and choose to be kind, humble, wise, and forgiving. And certainly ask God to give you the strength you need to do so.
By Edgar Twedt
In “The Book of Eli” Denzel portrays a wanderer in a dark, post-apocalyptic world. He is protecting a book which he carries as he walks westward toward the ocean. It’s a complicated and violent film to which Roger Ebert gives a sort of yes and no review. There are many interesting (if unbelievable) turns in the movie, but in the end Eli (if that is truly his name) winds up in Alcatraz. The book winds up in his enemy’s hands, who finds that it is written entirely in braille, and he has no one to translate it. The book turns out to be the Bible in the King James Version, and Denzel Washington has memorized it verbatim and ends his life dictating it to someone in Alcatraz.
While the film has many interesting twists and turns and tells us something about violence and the depths to which humans can stoop, I think the most poignant scene is one toward the end of the movie where Denzel Washington says, “Maybe I shouldn’t have been so concerned about protecting this book, but should have been more concerned about living it.” WOW!!! Maybe this line turns out to be a message to all of us who name the name of Christ. This Book needs no protection from us. Turns out it’s a road map if you will, a guide book, or a book of instructions in living the Kingdom life. And so it is meant to be lived, because it is in living it that we truly tell its message to others.