Monday, November 20, 2006

But the Lilies of the Field Use Photosynthesis!

A friend directed me to a very funny sketch that originally appeared on British TV. For those who are fans of The Wittenberg Door, Monty Python's Life of Brian, and the like, be prepared to literally laugh out loud.

If you are of the opinion that one ought not to ever laugh about something as important and sacred as our faith, then please do not play this video:

The clip's about 3 1/2 minutes long.

I think the running gag lasts about 30 seconds too long, but there are some great moments in the clip. And it does give one pause, on a number of issues:

  • The issue of those who wave a Bible over their heads, completely forgetting (or not knowing) that Jesus didn't speak in English. So the English words they quote are translations from Greek. And if you translate word for word, you're going to lose meaning. And if you translate for meaning, you're going to lose some word-for word accuracy. So somewhere along the way, translators have had to make decisions of how things were going to be said. And the Greek texts...well, the scrolls that we get the Greek texts from had no spaces between words or punctuation marks sobasicallyinordertocreateeventhegreeknewtestamenttheyhadtodecipher somethingthatlookedkindoflikethis Where do you cut off words? How do you create sentences? Again, editorial decisions had to be made. So does a camel go through the eye of a needle, or was it a very large rope? And the earliest-written gospel? Mark? You know, the one written in 60-ish AD? How long was that after Jesus' death and resurrection? 30 years or so? So, you're saying about the same amount of time as has passed from Nixon's resignation until now. And all that time in between, Jesus' words were kept alive by an oral tradition? So then, you who judge based on one or two verses of Scripture, you who insist on truth residing on figuring out exactly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin but completely miss the wide expanses of Truth that flow through the entire narrative of scripture...I pity you. Not for your narrowmindedness, but rather that by insisting on little particles of truth, you have missed the transforming grace of Truth with a capital T.

  • The other main issue is one that the Matthew character brings up. God has told us not to worry. God has told us he will give us what we need. But he never told us HOW. There's a joke I heard once. A man was in his house as it was raining and raining and raining. Before long, it was apparent that the rain wasn't going to stop anytime soon, and flooding became a real possibility. He prayed to God, "Lord, keep me safe. Rescue me from the oncoming flood." He had prayed many times before, but for the first time, he heard a little voice answer. It said, "do not be afraid. I will take care of you." Not long after that, a policeman knocked at the door. "Come with me," the policeman said, "and I'll make sure you get to safety." "No thanks," the man replied. "God will take care of me." The waters continued to rise. A while later, someone came by in a rowboat. "Come with me, and I'll get you to safety." The man had the same response: "God will take care of me. No thank you." Finally, the waters had risen so high that the man had to go to the roof of his house. A heliocopter came by, and someone called out, "come with us--we'll take you to safety." The man yelled back, "no thanks, God will take care of me." Eventually, the flood waters swallowed up the whole house and the man drowned. In heaven, he marched right up to Jesus and said, "Lord, you promised you'd take care of me, yet I drowned. What gives?" Jesus shook his head sadly and said, "my child, I sent you a policeman, a rowboat, and a heliocopter. What else did you want?"

So many people take God's promises and put their own limitations on how God can fulfill those promises. They don't want God to be God. Far more often than I care to admit, I'm one of those people. It's easier to try to keep God in his small, predictable little God-box in the corner of the room.

Or at least it seems easier. At the time.



1 comment:

Brian said...


Great clip. There are times when I read or hear scripture that I feel just as Matthew might have felt in this clip.

I often think back to the episode of Friends when Joey just nods his head and pretends to understand.

How many of us (me included) pretend to understand what we're reading, or hearing? How often do we just nod our heads at God, never intending to figure out what He's asking?