The Twilight Zone
Whoever came up with that name was inspired. The cusp between light and dark. The transition between “that is that” and “what was that”. The sense of leaving the known of day for the unknown of night. And things that go bump in the dark.
We have all heard the stories. We have all dismissed them as fanciful. We have all wondered if that was true. Some of us have experienced our own “out of this world” moments. Some experience that on a regular basis and live in a world that thinks them crazy. Being normal demands being average. And being average demands no extremes. Extremes are not average and extremes are not to be trusted. Which in statistical terms is crazy. In statistical terms the average demands extremes at both ends in order to find the average in the middle.
“Jesus said to the crowd, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.“ Mark 4:26-34
Do I know this to be true? No I do not know this to be true.
Not as written. Not as recorded and interpreted and revised and reworked time after time. I have no way of knowing if the “original” was even true . If indeed there was a Jesus who said and did all this. And because I don’t know, for some that means I should dismiss this and all of “it”- that there is no God and Jesus who did any of this and it is all childish (and dangerous) fiction. And for others it means I really should stop doubting and believe this and all of “it” – because that is faith (and so very obvious) – and if it was all provable we wouldn’t need faith.
I have had enough “out of this world” experiences to do neither. Those experiences cause me to reject both the call of blind faith AND blind dismissal. Because somewhere in all of this I think there is something.
I think there always has been “something”. And I think I would have as much trouble convincing you of my “something” as the bible has. So I read the language of the bible and these verses with empathy and curiosity. I resonate with its attempt to describe something not of this world – something not average – not normal – and not “safe”.
But if my experiences had been different would I think this? Would I more easily accept all of “it” – or reject all of “it”? An in-the-middle-average, which is BOTH “either/or” and BOTH “true/false” because BOTH are a “crazy statistical calculation” keeping me firmly away from those “crazy extremes”.
And because I see blind faith AND blind dismissal as the SAME sides of the SAME coin. Both reject the extremes because they are “the extremes”. Both are belief in the safety of the middle.
I know that to be true because of my own experiences which showed me the extremes exist. But not as recorded in the bible. Not as simplistic as “I believe and so should you” NOR as dismissive as “I don’t believe and nor should you.”
Those verses says: “ … is as if someone would … With what can we compare … It is like a … “ And I get that: “How can I get this from my brain into your brain in such a way that you “get it” as well?”
And yet in the bible all we have is this written record.
A record that is picked apart like a deconstructed corpse. A deconstruction that is looking for life in a lifeless set of dead words. An exercise that proves death and not life. An exercise that proves its own presupposition: “I have proved there is nothing here – see the evidence … ” I also wonder how those of blind faith can read the same lifeless words and finds life in its own presupposition: “I believe and so should you – see the evidence … “
The evidence. The middle needs evidence.
I think the middle fears the extremes … fears losing control … fears anything that cannot be nailed to a laboratory workbench and picked apart. Fears the absence of “evidence” because the middle is safe – and has the evidence to be safe – so never says: “I don’t know.”
My own position? I don’t know and I empathise with both. I can be irritated by both. i can talk to both but not prove anything to either. And I struggle to get from my brain to your brain so that you get “the why”. And you might call me a few names because of my stubborness to play by my rules. And you might tell me I am wrong because I have no evidence for either (or that I reject the evidence for both). And you might be right.
It’s just that I do not find the extremes scary. It is the safe middle that scares me.
Make of that what you will.