Pain and Privilege
This morning once more, I began my annual journey through the scriptures. As I meditated on the writings of Moses, the Book of Genesis, my mind circulated around these phenomenal past few weeks. As a community leader, I share both the privilege and the pain of loving people. Mainly because true love (reference the Velveteen Rabbit below) always contains an element of pain, along with the capacity love lends to being Real!
As late as yesterday afternoon, I seem to have been cast into an awareness of the crisis of an emerging generation, quite experienced with the drug culture, in part due to the enormous amount of prescription drugs on the market. Our medicine cabinets are full of narcotics, awaiting innocent experimentation and eventual addiction. Why the need for such experimentation; perhaps, it’s simply a part of growing up! In my day it was sex and cigarettes! However we are kidding ourselves, if we don’t recognize a growing and deepening pain in the youth of our day; one that often requires an escape, easily found in the contents of the cabinets of their parents!
In my day, the remedy was as easy as finding a good church! I am learning much as I spend time with the grieving parents of those prematurely taken from them.
As I have tried to provide some spiritual solace for my community, my writings have been scrutinized by well-meaning “scholars” who by virtue of their self-discovery of scientific data are a part of a growing number of atheist. Loving these folk has its own set of complications and yet I truly sense a deep love, one that makes refereeing their comments on Facebook painful.
In fact, last week I temporarily “unfriended” a couple of them for the sake of the emotional state of others, given their well-meaning but ruthless criticism; leveraging a grieving audience for a moment to educate others to their point of view seemed unjustifiable. I still struggle with how I went about that. You might sense my concern, given the privilege and responsibility for a speaking into a diverse audience, and the pain that comes from truly loving all!
How does this relate to my morning meditation, as I cycled back from John’s Revelation to Moses’ Genesis? The Creation story is quite a challenge, even for me, given my lifelong study and infatuation with the sciences. I marvel at the galaxies each morning during my early walk down the driveway to collect my morning hardcopy of news, most often read the night before online! I really think my addiction to the Winston-Salem Journal has more to do with the thrill of my early morning gaze into the heavens, than it does any written copy inside that clear environmentally damaging plastic bag meant to protect the dry wasteful pulp inside. I say that in love!
This morning I pictured a visual graphic that seemed to form in my head, with points of axis to include: inspiration; the various religions that form around such inspiration; scientific observations and theory; assumptions made based on all of the above; and the literature that emerges over time to include scripture. One of my readers referred to me as “deep”! I must confess that I take that to mean, that I am poor at articulating what runs through my brain.
Back to Genesis and the challenge that comes with believing that Moses could have received some divine dictation that would provide thorough insights into Creation. Some allegorically parallel the thoughts of many creationists in the field of science, yet so contrary at other points, that the term “junk science” has emerged. The latter is where my atheist friends, two that I have known since their childhood, seem to insist that I settle. One even apologized for some of my writings, as they were convinced that I meant well by the community! Maybe that is what has taken me to the point of exploring theories as to the origin of Genesis and the Pentateuch. Here too, one must not overlook the science of archeology and the discovery of hard data from that field.
“Abraham came from a country where the knowledge of writing and reading was common and from an important city mentioned in the code of Hammurabi . . . In that country traditions of the creation and the flood were preserved, which have much in common with those in Genesis. That is the very country also in which Genesis places the site of the Garden of Eden and where the confusion of tongues is said to have occurred. There, if anywhere, the remains of an original revelation concerning creation and an accurate story of the flood would be handed down. What could be more natural than that Abraham carried such records and genealogies with him from the banks of the Euphrates to the land of Canaan? ‘Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac’ (Genesis 25:5). Perhaps those priceless records were among his possessions. If so, they went down with Jacob into Egypt and formed the basis of Genesis 1-11 as written by Moses. (Raven 1910: 131-2.)1
You might find the link below interesting.
Yet, what I must communicate, the driving force behind my passion for scriptures is not the hard data that supports my understanding, though I’ll admit quite far from that of my fundamentalist friends! Rather, the love that squeezes my heart when my community is in pain. A love that I hardly knew before a moment, which unexpectedly seized my heart the night of January 3, 1973, when I walked in on my Dad as he called out to the heavens for his wayward son!
That love that has soothed my heart each time that my shortcomings shamed my soul, and has pressed me onward and upward when I was tired of loving. A love that will not allow me to succumb to my own intellect, so often challenged by the contrarian viewpoint of those not yet having experienced the deep privilege of God’s love!
“The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others.
He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the
seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled
out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long
succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and
by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they
were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery
magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that
are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by
side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does
it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that
happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just
to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When
you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It
takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who
break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved
off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very
shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are
Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”2