Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Sky is Falling

I saw something recently that made me do some thinking about an old fable I grew up with. What I saw doesn't matter, but the thinking I was doing started to turn into a blog post (as often happens) .... so here I am.

The tale of Chicken Little is the story of an alarmist young hen who one sunny day, got bopped on the head by a falling acorn and thought that the world was coming to an end: "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" She told everyone she knew about it (Hmmm. Some people would call that "witnessing" - but I digress). Her alarm caused mass hysteria among all the fowl (duck, goose, turkey), and they all ended up being part of a smorgasbord menu for a fox who took advantage of their desire to go tell the king something they'd convinced themselves was something to be afraid of. 

Photo "Chestnut" courtesy of olovedog at
This kind of thing happens all the time in denominations. Some perceptive (if unenlightened) person gets it into his or her head that such-and-such a belief is something to be focusing on. The word spreads like wildfire, and soon everyone is all in a dither about it, leaving us vulnerable to be the victims of deception - possibly even harming our spiritual lives in the process. We get our eyes off how the Son shines and gives everything life not only around us, but in us. We focus on the circumstances and base our belief on them instead of what we know to be true. We gad about and spread panic and havoc in our own lives and in the lives of others, over things that really just don't matter at all. 

And we put ourselves in danger. We add to what God says by creating rules and restrictions ... and then judge those who don't do the same. We feel threatened by someone who lives his or her life in liberty without feeling the need to toe the party line.  We judge that person: we like knowing what the rules are and that we're following them, so we limit our own freedom and aren't satisfied until everyone else is as uptight as we are. If they refuse to get uptight, we judge them because we feel threatened by a lack of structure, a lack of control. 

And control is key...  because we like to be in control, to have a say, to not feel at the mercy of something that is bigger and more generous and more powerful than we can imagine. We like to either put limits on it, or put requirements on ourselves to access it.

Such was the case with Eve (yes, Adam's wife.)  She wasn't aware of all the reasons God said not to eat of that fruit. She didn't think about how marvelous was His wonderful love toward her. She just knew the one rule of the Garden: don't eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eating it would make her "die" - whatever that was - and that didn't sound good. So she felt that she had to add to that rule - and adding to it was her downfall. She figured that in order to not eat the fruit, it would be best not to touch it or to even go near the tree. Eventually she came to believe that even those things were forbidden and carried the same punishment. Along comes Foxy Loxy (the serpent) and says (in essence), "Look. I'm on the tree. I'm touching the fruit. Am I dead?" He planted that seed of doubt - and then came the clincher - "Maybe God's been lying to you all this time. Maybe He's holding out on you." It wasn't so much that Eve was convinced by the serpent; it was that she had allowed herself to get caught up in the trap of swallowing tradition as gospel, and made herself easy pickings for the deceiver.

It's no different today.  Just like the Pharisees of Jesus' day whom we all-too-quickly condemn, we add burdens and place restrictions on ourselves and on other believers... and even on unbelievers! I remember hearing one well-seasoned (pickled? stagnated?) believer express amusement at the zeal of a new convert, commenting (in an "isn't that cute" tone) "That's okay, this will pass." (Really?!)  Yet that same believer will be one of the first to sign a petition and/or carry placards when some politician tries to grant equality to all people (even the ones with whose lifestyles we don't agree) calling it an "attack on the sanctity of marriage."  Or object when there are too many "street people" in the church (whatever that means).  Or some such thing.


I was brought up in the church from my infancy. And I've closely and seriously examined the teachings of Jesus ever since I was sixteen years old - nearly forty years ago now. Nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE, did He ever judge or condemn anyone who wasn't religious. Over and over again, He ate with and enjoyed the company of the dregs of society: tax-collectors, prostitutes, even non-Jews (Samaritans, Romans!) and never once did He condemn. He saved His scathing condemnation for those (like the Pharisees and Saducees) who used their religion like a weapon instead of a magnet, or for those who used their power to oppress (like Herod, and even then, only once!) instead of to protect the innocent. His teachings were more about living a quiet life in faith and love, rather than brandishing a spear and shield and tackling political and societal ills like some holier-than-thou Don Quixote. 

I've also examined our modern society at some length. We can say all we like about how it is broken and so forth, but it's pretty accepting of most types of people.  However, among the things it can't abide are dogmatism, hypocrisy and elitism - three things the church has historically been famous for, ever since 300 AD. It's one of the top criticisms that unbelievers have about the church. It's probably the main thing that keeps them away by the hundreds.

Photo "Sun In The Sky" by
graur razvan ionut at
We're too busy yelling "The sky is falling!" in their faces ... and - unfortunately - in each other's faces as well. We run all over the place trying to get each other to be concerned and passionate over the same things we are, when God has clearly created each of us different from the other. And we burn ourselves out in the process of our search for sameness. 

We wear ourselves down and worry about keeping hold of things He's already bought and paid for. His yoke is easy and His burden is light - but you'd never know it to look at us. 

Maybe, just maybe, He allowed the acorn to fall from the tree, not to alarm us into trying to convince each other that we're right, or to warn us that we're doing something wrong, but so that we'd think to look up to the Giver of all things, realize that He is right here with us and loving us. Maybe we'd figure out that the Son is still shining, and just say "Thank You."

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