Sunday, February 04, 2007

Virgins Don't Have Babies, But Why Mess With A Good Story

I love stories. I've heard people try to dismiss the bible as just "fairy tales" and others who defend the bible by saying it isn't "just" fairy tales. Others try to insist that the bible is "all true or not at all true," and such poorly thought out comments are meant to suggest that every word found in the bible is somehow factual. Of course, its easier to pretend to believe that than it is to try to make sense of the contraditions, unethical practices, historical inaccuracies, and scientific impossibilities that fill the bible.

The mistaken belief that the bible must be factual to be valuable means that people will either do terrible things in the name of the bible, or they will reject the bible from their lives. I think there is another alternative.

I love taking the stories of the bible and sharing them as stories. They are not for me "just" stories, they are sacred literature, a powerful art form that offers truth independent of fact. If not one thing in the stories ever actually happened, if not one person in the stories ever really lived, the stories remain true for me because they activate my imagination where new truths can constantly be discovered. The power of the bible doesn't depend on its being factual, but in its being creative. The stories are powerful. And if we let them be stories, they can be true by helping us discover new truths with each reading of them.

Virgin Birth? Resurrection? Walking on water? Raising the dead? Fiery chariot? Water into wine? Did these things ever really happen? I have my doubts, but the power of the stories for me isn't whether or not they happened. And that's why they can be true for me even if they didn't happen. More important than being true, they are relevant, and therefore sacred.

No comments: