Stories that Are True
If you read the Scriptures of the great monotheistic traditions you will find that all of them refer to a God who is named as “Creator.” I read this as beautifully poetic language — describing a relationship between the world we know and a Divine presence and life that has a stake in that world, and in us. This Creator, the Hebrew Scripture, the New Testament, and the Qu’ran all say, desires relationship with us. “Listen!” God says, “Behold!” “Recite!” The story of Scripture in the Jewish and Christian traditions is a rocky love story. where the Divine Lover-Creator offers the chosen people of God all kinds of ways to grow into deeper and fuller relationship with the mystery and beauty at the heart of life. They are invited to live in harmony with each other and the Creation around them ,and to be a blessing to the world. But they are also left free to choose whether to accept these invitations or to turn away from them. The story of Scripture seems to be the story of a continually renewed pattern of fall and forgiveness, exile and return, death and resurrection, judgment and mercy for the world.
I believe these stories are in some way true. Not in a verifiable, scientific way, of course — but in a deep, patterned way that speaks to our hearts and longings. On some level I think we know that we are made to cooperate with one another and with the earth, not to destroy one another. We know that the relationship of love over hate, the way of reconciliation over violence, of sharing over self-regard, is the way that we have to find again, when the world seems to be disintegating into tribalism, violence and domination.
I am distressed when people and societies and religious groups not only fail to live up to the loving Creator’s dream for us, but corrupt it into tribalism and sectarianism. The tendency to say “We have the truth and you don’t” “You are out, going to hell, etc., and we are in” This or that authority has the one true way,” does not demonstrate the falsity of revealed religion but rather the human failure to seek genuine truth and understanding. If there is any truth at all to what I say I believe, as a Christian, then it is also impossible that I have it completely right: the truth is too big, the mystery of love too far beyond my grasp. All I can do is to try to find the path that is open to me, to follow it in freedom and in love, and to use all that I am — mind, heart, and body — to do so. There is challenge and struggle in this but there is also great joy.
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