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Mother Necessity Reads the Bible

??????????????????There is little doubt in my mind that there is a constancy to human nature that maintains a vital unity and relevance for human experience from age to age and culture to culture. Documents rooted in principle are not invalidated by changes in the external elements in society, are not rendered unviable because public sentiments shift with the fickleness of a Jr. High crush.

That said, our attempts to “understand” the peoples, cultures, and social systems of those distant to us, those whose practical struggle for survival seems radically different from our own, is complicated by our ignorance of the full nature of those struggles. We judge too harshly at times based on our struggles, our society’s fanciful fascinations and assumed truths, most of which are based on the “easy life” created for us by technology, and the fallacious vision of reality and fictionalized sense of cause and effect created for us by TV and Movie makers.

As you read Scripture and feel the powerful temptation to judge what you find there, ask yourself a series of important questions. “What are the most revolutionary inventions?” “What inventions have so radically transformed human experience as to render our modern minds incapable of comprehending the practical struggles of life in communities like the biblical world, which lacked them?” “However distasteful to me, how do these texts, these laws, these poems, these stories speak meaningfully about the human experience before an all loving but Holy creator?”

Here are a few I thought of:

The computer, the internet, wireless data transfer, cell phones, video cameras, telephone, radio, walkie-talkie, and television… Records, Tape decks, DVD and CD players. Before these we had the printing press, the type writer, and the telegraph. We have electricity and light bulbs.

We have the loom, the spindle, the cotton gin, the sewing machine, the washing machine and dryer, the dishwasher, oven, and that all transforming refrigerator and freezer. We have water heaters, furnaces, and air conditioning. We have a wide array of birth control. We have canning processes. We have microwaves, for goodness sake!

There is fermentation, storm drains, sewerage piping, leeching fields and septic tanks, indoor plumbing, and pasteurization, which was a godsend without refrigeration. We have antibiotics and pain killers, microscopes and X-ray machines. We have soap… we know about germs!

We have the engine, leading to cars and trucks and trains on tracks, not to mention airplanes, satellites, and rockets. We have assembly lines. We have tractors, harvesters, bailing machines, and milking machines. We have the pump. I could go to the airport today, and be in china by this time tomorrow!

We have gun powder, guns, bullets, canons, missiles, tanks, flamethrowers, and grenades. We have locks.

We have the rudiments of most of these wonders—The screw, hammer and nail; the wheel, axel and gear; the axe, saw, drill and plow; the domestication of animals as beasts of burden. We have the boat and mining. We have the bow and arrow, the sling, the knife, the lever and the club. We have smelting, and glass making,

We could fill volumes describing the survival dynamic that any combination of these or their lack created in other societies. Our indignation at the limitations for “marginalized” people’s of the past are often based on childish imaginings about what the struggle to survive entailed in the ancient world. Vast amounts of energy, thus vast numbers of people, were needed to provide the family and community with basic needs that we take for granted.

We pop down to the Walmart, 20 miles down the highway, in our store bought clothes, to buy the things we need to whip up a dinner for 20… people who, having showered, will come at night, in the winter, taking a break from their endlessly entertaining TV’s, Netflix, movie collections and video games to join us, but not their smart phones with internet and text messaging. As we drink our chilled beverages, use the washrooms, and clean our germ diseased hands with anti-bacterial soap, and listen to the thrumming of the dishwasher and the thump thump thump of the washing machine and dryer continuing the household’s laundry, we can sit around the heated room, some of us having murdered our own children in sterile abortion chambers, complaining how misogynistic Scripture is, how unfair to homosexuals, how brutal in war, and unkind in its defense of the death penalty.

We can talk and mock and pontificate, but never come to understand that it is they who best understood the danger of an unstable community and what principles of human interaction destabilized it; for divergences from the path of life manifested themselves quickly among them, while we, dimmed in our perceptions of reality, lulled into a false sense of security by our seemingly indestructible infrastructure, distracted from the important questions of life by our technological bobbles, will not see the disaster we are making for ourselves until it is too late.  May God have mercy on our souls.

[1] Media pic is from sxc.hu

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