Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The lure of trivia

I couldn’t resist it! Some three years ago a worshipper at St. James’s in Cambridge (who claimed to be a Sufi) asked if we could have a study group on the book “The Da Vinci Code”.

I knew this person to be one who was interested mostly in the esoterica of religion, so I asked her a question.

“Have you”, I asked “read the New Testament?”

“No” was her predictable reply.

“So here’s the deal”, I said. “You read the New Testament and we’ll have a study group on that, after which I’ll read the Da Vinci Code, and we can study that”.

That was a bit mean of me, but I could not resist it.

I remembered that encounter today when I was in a local Supermarket. It was a quiet day, and Alejandro, a very bright young cashier from Cuba wanted to talk.

He asked me what I did before I retired, and so I told him. Of course he had never heard of the Episcopal Church, so he had some questions.

“Are you Christians?” “Do you believe in the Trinity?” “Do you believe the Bible?”

I said “yes” to each question. Then I asked if he were a Christian. “No” he replied, “but I believe in God and I read the Bible”.

Then he got to the heart of all his questions. He wanted to talk about the 144,000 “saved” from Revelation.

My heart sank. “Here we go again” I thought, “dabbling in esoterica, and missing the main point”.

He, and my Cambridge parishioner are truly children of this post-modern age. They are amongst those who are able to “hold” any number of “truths”, never questioning the compatibility of the various “world views” they hold.

I talked to Alejandro a bit about what it means to follow Jesus: - to care for the poor and hungry, to spread a welcome Table for all; to work for justice.

He listened politely, but he really wanted to talk about Biblical prophecy and all that jazz.

And who can blame him, or who can blame my Cambridge parishioner.

They know that we, the Church, have set an agenda of trivia, so no wonder they think that matters on the fringe of faith are more important than the core.

(For if the trumpet give an uncertain voice, who shall prepare himself for war?
1 Corinthians 14:8)

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