When I was a child we used to play cowboys and indians. Then japs and commandos. Pretend guns were part of both. Pretend death and pretend weapons. The cowboys and commandos were always the goodies. The indians and japanese never were. Then older still and jokes about the Irish – about fat people – stupid people – gullible people – mother-in-laws – the jokes kept coming – directed towards an infinite set of labels behind which were real people. But for the moment of that joke not real people. For that moment pretend people. Just as pretend cowboys and pretend commandos and pretend indians and pretend japs and pretend weapons and pretend death were not real either for those short moments.
I wonder whether we are in a phase where we take ourselves a tad too seriously.
“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’” Mark 16:15-18
Taken literally these verses equal outrage. Believers v Unbelievers.
Taken literally believers do not need modern medicine (nor do their children and friends). Prayer and faith will heal. Yet unbelievers have a stock of cases where prayer and faith did not heal – and the “innocent child” of a believer died painfully and unnecessarily. Just as believers have a stock of cases where modern medicine was amazed at the healing of a believer who was prayed for by the faithful. Each side believes they are right and the other side is wrong. And each side is outraged that the other will not believe they are right/wrong.
My experience is that believers AND unbelievers trot to their local doctor when ill – both collect a prescription – both take their meds – and both expect to be healed. My experience is that when surgical intervention is required BOTH sign the forms – both offer a prayer to someone – and both hope they will be healed – that both expect to be healed. That is what modern medicine does (or does not) just as that is what prayer and faith does (or does not).
Belief in modern medicine and/or belief in prayer and faith is still just “belief”. Still has exceptions. Will always have exceptions. Those “cases” who succumb AND those “cases” who heal (when the exact opposite was expected).
We ALL live by belief and this word “unbelievers” is as “real” as the pretend games I played as a child. There is no such thing as “unbelief”.
There is merely belief in something else.
More and more I wonder why we fight the good fight over “belief”. More and more I wonder why we turn belief into fact – that the “japs” ARE baddies and commandos ARE goodies – that cowboys MUST win and indians MUST not – why pretend guns are BAD and pretend death …
Just where does “pretend death” fit into this?
Because it is the one sure thing we ALL face (no belief or pretending required). And because we ALL do something else as well … We ALL live knowing we will ALL die.
So isn’t HOW we live each day more important than WHAT we “believe”? Isn’t that more important than this pretend word “unbeliever” … ? Because we all believe in something – just not the same something. And no matter what the “something” we will ALL die – just as today we are ALL living knowing we will ALL die (just without knowing when).
I believe I can make today better for me and those I love … for those who love me … AND for those I have never met (but will bump into today by phone, email or face-face).
I believe this world needs loads of TLC because our children and grandchildren will be me some day and they will want the same – to live with hope and belief that THEIR children and grandchildren can live with hope and belief for THEIR children and ….
And whether you believe in God or not – I believe there is more the same than different in that last paragraph. Cowboys and indians is pretend AND believers and unbelievers is pretend.
So why all the outrage?