“Both read the Bible day and night, But thou read’st black where I read white.” WIlliam Blake
When we, her students, got restless and inattentive, our English teacher in 11th grade would line us up, one row of classmates against the wall and the other row against the window. Then she wrote on two slips of paper the exact same word or short phrase and handed a slip to the beginning student at the head of each line. That person was instructed to whisper the writing on the slip of paper to the next student and pass it in the same manner of whispering on down the line.
It was a great lesson in life when the last student in each line repeated what had been whispered. Never was it the writing on the paper and never, ever, were both lines in agreement with the word or phrase that our teacher had written.
So it is with anything I read. My life’s experiences, my upbringing, my inherent prejudices, my likes and dislikes all temper the reading material at hand. Where I see black, my best friend may see white. Where I see a tragedy, my partner may see hope and renewal.
I try to read scriptures with an open mind, but, even then where I see black, my neighbor across the street may see white or many shades of gray. In the best of circumstances we simply agree to disagree. However, the civilization in which we participate today does not provide us with the best of circumstances. Brothers are driven to disagreement and divisiveness by what they read.
In the realm of religion much of that division is fueled by theologians and Biblical scholars who justify their credentials in the world of philosophy by theorizing and then naming that theory “truth”. Whose truth is it? Yes, it is their truth but, it must be tested by the litmus test of “inherent rights” to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is not an American invention, rather, it is confirmed by the centerpiece of Christianity, Jesus whom Christianity titles as the Christ. Therein is the caveat of religious theory. Every bit of it is man’s philosophy based on interpretations formed in man’s mind. Where I see black, you may see white.
So, what do I do? Do I simply give up passing a message down the line because the end result will never be agreement?
No, this is where the God-given innate traits of logic and reason come into play. I need to apply the standard which Jesus taught in the message of the Gospels.
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27
Does my message honor my Lord? Does it promote the well-being of not only myself, but, all creation? If not, then that message is not logical or reasonable because the bare, minimal truth of anyone’s life is survival. Every one of the 2 billion+ people on this earth is driven by that spark inside which says, “I will survive. I have a right to live in freedom, liberty, and happiness.”
That drive has nothing to do with religious doctrine. If I apply this basic right of all humanity to my message and that message doesn’t cut the mustard, then I am wrong in my faith assumptions. In my mind that is the nugget of truth which religionists have missed. God is undefinable by human standards. God is indescribable by human words. God simply is. No religion owns God. God is that ultimate mystery which terrorizes some men while other men rejoice. Where some men read black, others read white.