I will not be asking or even encouraging Peanut to memorize Bible verses. I think it’s like finding the funniest part of Sartre’s No Exit and calling it a comedy. It misses the point. The Bible is a BODY of LITERATURE, written by many different people, or if we’re honest, men, over thousands of years. Much of it was oral tradition for several generations before being written down. Much of it would be science fiction and fantasy at best if we didn’t call it “Holy.” It is our canon, our Christian Story, our Jewish heritage, and it IS special, but we don’t have to worship it as an idol.
The current Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church is fond of saying that science and religion are two different ways of knowing that can and do coexist rather nicely for her. She was first an oceanographer – a scientist – before her time as a priest and then bishop. She says science gives up the nuts and bolts of life and religion and faith give us the WHY. You can hear two minutes of Katherine talking about science and religion HERE. She also says that you can answer questions with one or the other, but using both gives you greater depth.
As I’m researching options for educating Peanut, I’m running into “young earth” “science,” which is just theology wrapped in a pretty, science-y cover. I don’t understand the need for God to have made each living thing separately. If I’m a Christian, and I am, I think a God who put a nifty mechanism in place to make that happen is a lot more creative and worthy of worship.
I don’t want a God who runs my life – who I turn to for finding my car keys, avoiding traffic, or punishing people who aren’t like me. I want a God who treats me more like a college student – I can call home once a week or twice a month and bring my dirty laundry home when it overflows. To depend on God as if God did not give me my own two legs, two arms, and a (sometimes really clever) brain is not an option to me.
I often think about what I should tell Peanut about things – spiritual things like sin, and everyday things like why chocolate is not a food group in our house (though we don’t judge folks for whom it is!). I like to think that what she thinks will matter more than my current opinion on the subject and that I will ask her what she thinks about sin and what she thinks of our life, and whatever she tells me, I hope I remind her that at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean we’re right or better, and her job as a Christian is to care about people and love them more than she thinks they deserve. A long time ago, I asked a pastor-friend about how she knows what she’s doing is right, and she said her measurement was the ever widening circle of God’s love – from Jesus to his family and the disciples, to other Jews and then Gentiles and eventually to us. That is a benchmark – THAT is the point, the one I hope we never miss.