Saturday, February 20, 2010

As Far as the East is from the West

Our pastor is quite the learned man and in one exciting sermon he learned us some pretty interesting stuff. I liked it enough to keep thinking about it still some months later.

The basic premise is this: In the old ancient eastern thought methods (Hebraic), a subject and a verb was good enough. But then along came the Greek and Roman (western) thought methods and everything—and I mean everything—got defined.

So that is why the Holy Scripture was written down on scrolls without paragraphs, chapters and verse numbers. It gives us the facts, ma’am, just the facts. Each writing (book) was written on its own scroll. And that is also why the Holy Scripture begins like this: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That was plenty good enough for the thought and understanding of the early people of the Hebrew nation.

Well then, not too many centuries later, western thought developed (Greco/Roman) and everything got organized. Line by line. Jots and tittles. Numbers and punctuation. Text and subtext. Research and theory. Scores and positions. A place for everything and everything in its place.

And so the western guy shouts incredulously, “He created the heavens and the earth in one day? That’s impossible! You can’t do anything in just one day! Come here, let’s break this down! Lemme show you something.” [And much later] “…and so there you have it: it only took 200 billion years—give or take. See how simple that is, man? It’s called evolution.”

And the eastern guy shrugs and says, “That’s not what it says here, man. It says ‘…and God saw that it was good.’ ”

So it’s no wonder that western children are transfused with information, grades and degrees; competition and games, winners and losers, possessions and bigger possessions, speed and finish lines, charts and maps, statistics and trophies, chapters and verses, dictionaries and thesauruses, Honey-Do lists and 12-Step programs and Nielsen Ratings and Baby Beauty Pageants and Guinness record books and Super Bowls.* The fastest, the prettiest, the biggest, the smartest, the highest—and whoever dies with the most toys wins.

I think our pastor's sermon has given me pause to slow down with my thoughts; to anchor things/relationships that will stand long after I leave, to consider more patiently, to look at the big picture first, to let go of unimportant things, to live with integrity, to enjoy the wonder of it all. Or am I just getting older?

In the Holy Scripture written after Jesus, there is a place that tells us God will greet some of us with “Well, done, my good and faithful servant.” Wouldn't it be nice if He also says, “…and God saw that it was good.”

*(Baseball and The World Series are exempt because “In the big inning, God...")


kenju said...

I am definitely trying to let go of unimportant things!

Ily said...

I like how you ended this post, and the overall! To focus on the bigger picture, to live for what really matters, that's what it's all about. Now if I could just DO THAT...

Happy Sunday, amiguito!!

karen said...

Yep... we always think we have a better explanation. Let's just take God at His Word.

Cliff said...

My Dad oft repeated the old addage or adage or saying,
~The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.~

Janell said...

Psalm 90:12 "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Excellent, Paul. You remind us to focus on what's really important.

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