According to the American Bible Society, there are some 900 translations of the Holy Scriptures.
And, that number in English, alone.
Our esteemed and Oxford-emeritus vicar, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Girard Rev. Charles Brock, made this known on Orthodox Easter.
I sat in attendance from a physical distance of some 14.5 miles, virtually, via remote online viewing. This being my social mode for over two years, I’d become inured to the limits of two dimensions – the restricted frame; the often glitching, inferior audio; and, the perimeters of the space chosen for broadcast. Like the playpen into which I’d been plunked as a developing infant, its bounds were long familiar.
The subject was Mary Magdalene. She’d be the first on record – every record, in fact, including that of the Gnostic Gospels (finally also bound, but many centuries since the Holy Canon decreed around the table at Nice) – to see the risen Christ. Not actually recognizing him, at first, the prevailing mystery (“thinking him to be the gardener”); her eyes were opened, by way of her ears. Jesus spoke, and called her… “Mary.”
But, upon her realization, Jesus gave Mary an immediate directive. He told her not to touch him.
The love between this woman and her Christ has been contemplated by every scholar and pious, from the secular apostate to the devout. Perhaps there are several reasons why.
One considers the power of both magnetism, and its reverse; how she could keep from wrapping him in embrace, at the very moment when he spoke her name, defies common comprehension. But, enter those pesky 900 translations; one interpretation of his declaration reads: “Don’t cling to me.”
The school of that thought sees his instruction in a broader context. Christ could not be held – held on earth, held back from his destination, held by any force. He was on a path which would take his resurrected body away from the present space and time, the very moment of that encounter.
Well outside of the realm of codependent theory, “clinging” in this case was rejected not because of the nature of the relationship between Jesus and Mary but because, as Christ said, he had “not yet ascended” unto his “Father.”
Speaking of theory, there are many with regard to the intent behind this statement. Would the ascension be required, in order for Christ to be “touched” again by his beloved? Or, was the idea that being touched at all giving cause to defile him? Would human contact with his as yet unglorified body perhaps contaminate it?
There is momentary relevance, here.
The human touch. We’ve missed it, so. Any number of substitutions have had to suffice, from “virtual” hugs to gestures made in the air across a wide swath of grass or concrete.
What would Christ say? This writer clings to a yearning for human embrace. Humanity’s need for physical nearness is part of what makes us vitally healthy, and not just physically.
For many years, this writer has been alluding to having been raised by a sect of Christian Fundamentalists. Most of the time, the context has been apologetic, or in the form of some excuse for alarming or curious reactions to life events. Almost assuming others are looking on with cocked eye or raised eyebrow, I have felt the need to explain why it is that I respond differently to just about everything.
Enter the coronavirus pandemic.
At first sign, I was sure we were in for a radical change in our social and professional landscape. Most thought me purely reactionary, alarmist, then sensationalist. Some laughed, handing me their version of a tin foil hat.
All this proved true but, by the time such reality was manifesting, my prophetic cries were muffled by dictae from the voices of hastily appointed if frequently shifting actual authority.
What ultimately ensued is still affecting everyone, today; yet, the ones out front sounding the call are still pushed aside in favor of some vaguely gathered general consensus by those firmly planted in the middle of the collective scope of reference.
You won’t find me among these. Why?
Because I was raised by a sect of Christian Fundamentalists.
What distinguishes me, and those of my ilk?
First, we view the world through firmly entrenched dependence on the black and white lens. It’s in our cells; we can’t – without excruciating, conscious effort – escape it. We see things from an all or nothing perspective; one is either saved or lost, bound or free, right or wrong.
And, this informs our judgments. When things happen outside of our deliberate action, we must immediately evaluate according to a moral paradigm. “Whatsoever things are true….honest….of good report……” Is there truth, inherent? Is there candor? Is the source trustworthy? Are the instructions clear, and appropriate? And, based on all of the above, what should our course of action then be?
But, it doesn’t end there.
Like most students of the Scriptures, we dig. Deeply. We read, and listen, and consider. We check references. We constantly ask of these: where is your evidence? From whom do you derive your data? No alleged, or self imposed, authority bends our knee. Having been taught to believe that the devil appears as an angel of light, we peel back face value to find what may be hiding behind.
Once we have made all of the determinations outlined above, we are compelled to act. And, act we do, but in a manner which some might term beyond earnest.
It’s called zeal. We don’t just decide, for ourselves. We stand, on the proverbial corner, and preach.
That comes from having been told to do so. “Go ye, into all the world, and preach the gospel to every tongue, people, nation…..” To us, there are no limits to either our scope or sphere of influence. We must tell it, on the mountain, to all.
So, the next time you find yourself recoiling at yet another declaration on social media which doesn’t quite align with that which you and your milieu have come to accept as true, stop. Look. Lean in. Take a moment, or more, and really investigate what is being presented. And, if it’s coming from me or somebody else so inclined, you might find yourself enduring a shift. Don’t let that frighten you. Many call this growth, and most celebrate its worth.
When you do, you may notice a certain kind of clarity of purpose forming. And, this will drive your action toward decisions which bring an even deeper peace. You will have developed a plan for living which no longer depends on following what just seems like an acceptable path presented by those with either the loudest or most pervasive voices; rather, you will have carved one for yourself, from the inside out, and nobody will be able to take that from you.
We in the Plymouth Brethren were taught that this source was the Spirit of God, and the gift given: discernment. I can’t prove the presence of such a Spirit. I have no hard data, on that. What I do have is a driving force, that comes from the center of my cellular nuclei, which moves me to both think, look, listen, read, compare, contrast, verify, contemplate, and then act. And, for that, I make no apology at all.
Quote footnotes: “How Shall We Then Live?” – Francis Schaeffer; “Go ye into all the world…” Mark 16:15; “Whatsoever things are true…..” Philippians 4:8.
The parent of one of my newest students sent me a video, the other day. I could tell, as soon as I saw the opening frame – a collage of syringes, masked faces, vaguely magnified documents, and a Bible verse in quotes – that this would be no stuffy, scholarly presentation. I was in for a treat.
I viewed the video.
Gradually, my opinion formed.
My plan was to express said opinion – gently, with care, being sure to avoid offending her potentially sensitive sensibilities. She was, after all, mother to two young boys, their grandmother also in house; I, childless and socially isolated, had no business confronting one defending such sacred ground.
What I wasn’t prepared to discover was that this earnest parent was herself a certified science professional. Undergraduate degree in Biology, Masters in Forensic Sciences, she’d worked as assistant to countless autopsies and now as microbiologist for a water testing laboratory. Plus, she’d spent many recent hours researching immunology. Here was a fully actualized American woman – and, I had been graced to become her child’s teacher.
This would require the employment of a tactical strategy.
I’d begin with a line of questioning. Questioning was indirect. Asking was different from telling. Asking presumed she had the answer I was seeking. I’d ask her about many things.
Question #1: The video opened with images of a female, twitching and contorting and barely able to walk, allegedly just three days from a first vaccine inoculation. (I would come to read of two similar anecdotes, in a YouTube comment thread.)
Whence had this clip been obtained, and who had the name and station of the patient, let alone which inoculation during which year? Why were we, the viewers, only privileged to view a disturbing display, without any captioned identifiers?
Question #2: : Its voice over that of one whose inflections suggested minimal education, the next narrative presented a make shift clinical experiment. We were able to view moving images, distinguish a cotton swab from a longer nasal swab, and observe an extracted clump of fibers one of which seemed to be moving of its own volition, another at the end of a tweezer. The narrator claimed to have obtained the nasal swab, by signing up for a covid test and then driving away with it.
But, whence the conclusions drawn by the demonstration? Didn’t static electricity allow synthetic fibers to adhere, even to each other? The claim that these were “alive” suited a sensationalist intent, but what of any further testing on said fibers?
Question #3: Similar fibers were shown to protrude from a close up of a man’s hand. Called Morgellon fibers, by another interviewee, these were said to be of unknown, inorganic origin. Finally extracting the fibers from the man’s hand, a piece of flesh was seen attached.
The narrator declared that these were coming out of her body, as well. But, she had refused to insert the nasal swab. Whence were such fibers appearing to extrude from her body? And, did these match those found at the tip of the inspected nasal swab?
Question #4: The image of a woman submitting to the much longer, original nasal swab, inserted by a technician, came next. We saw more than one such test administration, with a discussion of the direction the swab took to penetrate into the facial sinus and accompanying graphics illustrating the vacant space between the forehead facial bone and the brain. Then, we viewed a close up of tiny dark squares of “confetti” sprinkled on a swab tip. These were described as nanoparticles, and declared to be purposely included in the nasal swab.
We never saw evidence that these particles were visible attached to a nasal swab from a labeled test kit. We saw them in a close up of what appeared to be a cotton swab – and, on the tip of a human finger.
Additionally, we were TOLD the purpose and the function of these nanoparticles. By whom? A medical authority? A speculator?
Question #5: In the next scene, we viewed a close up photo of a tiny translucent square attached to a swab rod. A different narrator declared this to be a “holographic chip” containing the synthesized element, technetium. Wiki says this is used as a tracer, in diagnostic media. The claim was one of outrage; why were we being “tracked”?
The video was two hours long. Addressing every point of observation as it appeared would have taken a doctoral dissertation. Neither I, as a solitary being, nor the mother of two young children would be entertaining each other at this level anytime soon.
But, this was before her credentials became known to me. Somehow, now, I was adrift – unable to defend against established authority. Was this just my trigger, or had I just careened headlong into the age old battle between opinion and fact, between belief and proof?
Perhaps I had.
At this point in my life, I’d become wary of most everyone. Americans, in particular, had taken to social media with the fervor of Romans at a weekly forum. The one gaping hole in the fabric of our collective discourse was an acute absence of verifiable fact. The Emperor at Large had repeated so many declarative statements representing his personally held belief and intent so many times, much of the public had accepted them as truth simply by virtue of their raw frequency. We had, in effect, been schooled by opinion. Now, we were facing life and death decision making, and even those of us inclined to investigate ad nauseum were discovering entirely too many dead ends in a maze of monstrous proportions.
What remained before us, staring us down unblinking, was a clear crossroads; either a relatively safe mediating vaccine in two or three formulations was finally being provided us, or a massive fraud had been perpetrated and was continuing against our entire populace, one intended to wipe out 80% of our citizenry. And, even the most educated, prudent, conscientious, and intellectually capable among us could not discern which represented the truth.
This left me contemplating. Like my Christian forebears, I resisted wholehearted acceptance of nefarious or bleak reality. I sought hopefulness, because it was embedded in the nuclei of my cells.
Could there be a third scenario?
Could all of these other-worldly claims of fibers and particles and holograms all be real, and intended, but for purposes which were actually benevolent?
Suppose the nanoparticles and fibers, electrically or magnetically charged, the holograms carrying technetium, possessing properties unknown to those outside of scientific circles, were [ merely ] being introduced – riding a vaccine, as vehicle – to provide a universal mechanism for “reading” the body’s systems? One scientific paper stated as much, that the cardiovascular system could be monitored in this manner. Perhaps this technology was part of something as benign as tracking the ever-mutating virus itself, as it moved both through the nasal passages and the organs of the body? Perhaps even the vaccines were being tracked, in this manner?
I haven’t yet presented these questions to the woman, both scholar and mother, who sent me the video. I present them to you, instead. Even my local allergist cannot answer every question I pose; does this mean he is practicing avoidance, as some co-conspirator, either willingly or otherwise?
Fear drives both resistance and speculation. It feeds interpolation and, worse, conflation; taking bits of inherent truth, but connecting them incorrectly, often leads to drawing errant conclusion.
That is deadly.
But, courage allows us to take a different tack, permitting new thought. I choose to lay hold of hope, in both productive and constructive progress as well as the soul of humankind. Instead of concluding that we are all heading for the slaughter, I will determine to allow this hope to permeate every avenue of my thought, even as my blood flows to the furthest reaches of my brain and body.
Such is self healing. That being my opinion.
May we lead one another through.
*Readers: here is the video, in question. Form your own opinion.