Wonder Is Not a Fable

Originally uploaded by zinkwazi.
I was taking a second pass around at something I read by George MacDonald, something that only encourages me but likely used to frighten me. He seems to have this burr under his saddle about the weight we put on words. In his most direct context, he is talking about Christians and their constant ability to be more concerned and focused on the Bible than on the one to whom it is about. But it doesn’t just have to be all christiany. How many of us regularly put our faith in words and not the one saying those words?

Macdonald says, ”To the man who would live through the whole divine form of his being, not confining himself to one broken corner of his kingdom, and leaving the rest to the demons that haunt such deserts, a thousand questions will arise to which the Bible does not even allude.”

Now I must admit he writes with such poetry – something that tends to be lacking in today’ writing – that I could even make the mistake of giving more credit to his words than the heart behind them. He paints a picture of the difference between those that only ask questions to which the answers are easily accessible and those that step out into questions that may not get answers, but are no more reticent to ask the questions anyway. OR to put it another way, “You believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better is in store for those who believe without seeing.”

Which one would you want to be?

When I used to go to regular church – that Sunday event thingy – there was a “kind” of church that always caught me as odd – granted aren’t they all? The gist is, this particular church spends a lot of time flipping through their bibles on Sunday morning…sometimes it seems the value of the teaching is proportional to the number of times everybody has to flip pages in a bible. At its most arrogant, you will hear a phrase from these churches that sounds like, “We are a bible-based community.” To which I internally respond, “No shit, isn’t that what all Christians are?” What is meant, though, is their tendency is to give more credibility to the words written than to the one who spoke them.

I must confess that I rarely have seen humanity do anything better with words than this these churches. Most of the debates over law in the Supreme Court have their basis in this kind of thinking. There are generally two schools of thought: those that believe the Constitution is static, the words are unchanging with the times; and those that believe The Constitution is dynamic and alive, to be bent and flexed to meet the times, the spirit of the words is more important than the words themselves. At a smaller level, it is the debate children might have when their parents’ request that they not play with fire. One says, “Well, mom didn’t say we couldn’t turn on the stove to cook, did she? I mean she doesn’t want us to starve?!!” And the other might say, “ No, she said ‘fire,’ which means all forms of it – even if it is the stove.” I’ll admit, a weak analogy, but the point is still the same.

There are too many of us that read the words of God and are too small, too timid to ask any more of him. It’s safer that way, if not miserable. It is easier to make plans and get things done based of the words alone. To those then, I give the music of Colin Hay (Formerly of the band Men at Work), “Be still, my love, open up your heart, let the light come shining in.” Be still with the one who spoke the words, then have the courage to ask the hard questions to him…even if it is just about the words. Only, the response will be no different than Colin’s in the same song, “Don’t you understand? I already have a plan, I’m waiting for my real to begin.”

Macdonald, also says, “They are blessed to whom wonder is not a fable, to whom a mystery is not a mockery, to whom a glory is not an unreality.” Oh that I would let a thousand questions rise and go at it with the one who provoked them in the first place, than to sit safely by and ask nothing of him and be content with just words…