Climbing Jacob’s Letter — whoa there now!

To Dear Jacob from Dear Susie: (neither of us shooting the messenger I hope.)  Your beautiful name filled with Biblical allusions running the gamut from purchase of brother Esau’s birthright to synonymy with ” Israel “?  Well, be advised that “Susie” Is Hebrew-originated also.  Thus, our Judeo-names, selected by our parents, place us squarely upon the same playing field or turf with one another, right?  I shall restore my words into the context within which they were written, as both of us live in a Judo-Christian America which guarantees free speech and, incidentally, welcomes all manner of beliefs and ethnicities.

Please note my use of  the word “presently” which was emphasized in my letter as I consulted the April 13th edition of NEWSWEEK opened upon my desk; I had just concluded perusing a scholarly, thoroughly documented and researched article by Jon Meacham, editor and self-admittedly devout Christian.  Armed with a vast body of statistics (do read the article), his clear vision, with subsequent advice, creates a picture–in the mind’s eye–of dwindling church membership. He seems to wish to avert the “Post-Christian” era encroaching upon us. I did not gallop backwards through ancient history, nor even the middle ages, with either or hatchet or a cherry-picker.  I wrote of NOW–and not contentiously.

Bacon or Mendel, Luther or Henry VIII, Joan of Arc or John the Baptist, Albert Einstein or Robert Oppenheimer–you name ’em– beckon to us from the past and taught us much, and their instruction and deeds reverberate still today…as do the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Inventions, philosophies, medical discoveries, cures for illnesses, planetary explorations, etc., etc.–all are established and facilitated by those before us in this evolution of mankind.  We reach for the stars, not to dwell among them nor to permanently float upon the clouds, but to better understand our universe and ourselves and to challenge supposed truths within our limited–or limitless–world of reality. Most often, understanding and building upon the past leads to a better future, moving forward.

Yes, often we visit reality only as tourists.  Your sense of reality and mine may differ, and we can only hope to reach a compromise, probably neither of us changing our minds completely for we have both lived, I assume, pretty long lives full of similar and dissimilar experiences.  Our future? The children.  We owe an improved world to them, better than even we were fortunate enough to have enjoyed, by speaking face to face to exchange ideas and truths in a spirit of common-sense sharing. Those moments might happen inside or outside of a church home. Children learn by example.  We both can cite references and can thump paragraphs within the history textbooks we have been handed by those before us, but we must blend these references with our own experiences, and, most importantly’ allow current thinking to infiltrate inside our circle lest we simply go round and round with the same old traditions, many of which require adjustment and refreshing.

Neither of us possess a handle on absolute logic; logic may result from engagement in dialogue–still not a sure thing.  No need for either of us to feel smug on that score!  Sides should not be taken nor battles fought over religious concepts.  Aspersions, cast upon other religions, seem unintelligent and dangerous and vainglorious.  You wrote of “making gods of ourselves”, yet you catalog all kinds of reasons, most of them from your study of one book–the Bible, as to why you accept the God, with a capital G, created thousands of years ago by humanity, possibly resulting from fear of elements and each other.  Back to square one.  Also, happily, you speak of Christian-oriented scientists; yet you criticize scientific advancement, which holds the potential to alleviate human suffering, in your opposition to stem-cell research in a previous letter.  Let us not toss the word LOGIC about…this skill, mastered by the Greek philosopher Socrates, arose from open-ended questions and answers, deductions occurring after lengthy conversation, welcoming and including all who wished to learn.

I wrote not of “restrictions” (that’s your word), but of exclusions, and yes, a false superiority which allows no questioning nor exploration. Those very questions would surely arrive at beautiful, helpful conclusions which would revive enthusiasm for the religious discipline you and I were trained to respect.  Jesus lived at a time not so long ago, but far enough back, that certainly He would be pleased to witness ongoing improvements and alterations maintaining beneficial pace with the world as it is now, filling Earth evermore with love and understanding and acceptance of differences among ourselves.  Every great, meaningful religion survives the questioning.  Do not be fearful of challenges.  Why are you?

“Exegesis” and bioethics” discussions would be enlightening, and I thank you for the invitation.  One question though.  Will there be a question and answer session afterwards or during, as I am maybe at the end (if our voices be hushed, muffled, pooh-poohed, censored) of a long procession of white, Anglo-Saxon PROTESTants, supremely church indoctrinated as well as college educated, and a participant in the game of life and one who welcomes new ideas and fresh approaches from people of varying backgrounds and persuasions?  I have more questions than I can count.  How about you?  Wouldn’t becoming more tolerant of differences make this world, while we inhabit it, a far better place to live?  I liken this to Christ questioning the authority of  Roman oppressors, or the materialism of the money-changers in the temple, or His query, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”  Yes, Jesus certainly questioned  voices of authority, misguided or otherwise.  He even questioned himself.  “I am the truth?  I am the light?  I am the way?”  How could you have missed that?  Why have you no interest in the historical Jesus?  He walked among us; why do you wish to take him away from us?

As far as Christ’s call to “put out into the deep” (double preposition there–is that an accurate quote?) in the book of Luke, which you referenced in closing?  I admit I am forced to consult one of my 15 Bibles in my religious library, which includes books descriptive of the worlds’ great religions and explanations of their similarities and differences, to locate your quotation.   I only guess that since Jesus appeared to walk on water, you either wish me, a mere mortal, to drown…or to plummet to greater depths of thinking?  Well, I would find it difficult to employ logic while submerged in water, nor perched upon a dreamy floating cloud in a blue, blue sky high above our Earth and looking down.  Like it or not, we are both earth-bound PRESENTLY , and this is our responsibility: to live nobly daily right where we live.  Since Bible writings exist for all of us to interpret figuratively, I’ll locate the perfect chapter and verse soon to fit my logic, and I shall thump it for you. In the meantime, let us move forward and learn to understand and possibly accept belief systems other than our own. That should keep both of us very busy for the rest of our lives.

Peace Through Understanding and Acceptance and Inclusiveness

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