Gavin Peacock's new career
(HT: Stephen Murray)
"I can’t understand why you missionaries present the Bible to us in India as a book of religion. It is not a book of religion – and anyway we have plenty of books of religion in India. We don’t need any more! I find in your Bible a unique interpretation of universal history, the history of the whole creation and the history of the whole human race. And therefore a unique interpretation of the human person as a responsible actor in history. That is unique. There is nothing else in the whole religious literature of the world to put alongside it."And so the Bible, while not necessarily answering every single specific question we have, nonetheless gives us fixed points in our reflections on this question. It gives us the shape of the story we’re in.
The German term Sehnsucht describes this obstinate aspiration for something that satisfies even though we seem perpetually estranged from it. Amidst the storms and stresses of daily life, this "inconsolable longing" gets triggered unexpectedly and stabs us in mind and heart with a “pang” in most unexpected ways and times. Whether it’s elicited by a blue sky, a beautiful face, the melancholy of a requiem, the lure of romance, the crashing waves of the sea, the scintillations of sex, the profundity of a film, an illuminating line of poetry, a beautiful song, or an unobstructed view of the Milky Way, we occasionally experience a mysterious and tremendous feeling that attracts and baffles us simultaneously. We need “it” and want “it”, whatever “it” is. We are convinced it is what we have been searching for all our lives. (p.28)But was it such a bad thing? Well, surely yes? Why would I want my feelings of joy to be contaminated by all these unwanted dregs of melancholy? Unless I’m a masochist. Or is this how it’s going to be all the time? Never 100% happy. Suddenly that Buddhist doctrine of getting rid of all desire doesn’t sound so strange after all.
When in doubt, tell the truthI’ve gotten to know someone who is doing postdoctoral work here in biochemistry a little. He is not a believer, although he occasionally comes to church, and we tend to have a chat after the evening service when I see him. Often, he asks me what I’ve been up to during the week gone by. And to my shame, sometimes my stomach tightens up and goes all squishy at the same time. I mumble something about some of the practical work I get up to, maybe mention the Bible study prep that took up Monday night. And I become intensely aware that I’ve received the unwanted blessing of X-ray vision and see his internal eyebrow rising a little too high.
– Mark Twain
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
- 1 John 1:1-3