Some random thoughts…
Remember that scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Its right after young Indy narrowly escapes the treasure bandits with Coronado’s cross. The picture cuts away and suddenly shows Henry Jones Sr. reading his grail diary, praying this prayer: “may he who illuminated this also illuminate me.”
I think that’s what compels me to be a reader… Not so that I can have more knowledge or be able to spout out facts on command, but that I can be illuminated by the thoughts and dreams of others… There are corners of our souls that are too dark and hidden to be recognized from our own perspective. We need the words of those who have gone before us to shine into us and illuminate things about ourselves that we never knew existed. C. S. Lewis once said that the reason he read a lot of books was so that he could learn to ‘see through others’ eyes.’ I’d like to be able to do that…to see the world not only through my limited perspective, but to experience the world from another’s.
Tonight I went and saw the Book of Eli. It’s a post-apocalyptic story about Denzel Washington trying to carry the last copy of the Bible westward. There’s a moment in the movie where he says “I got so focused on protecting this book that I forgot to live what it says.” It made me wonder if the goal of any book of faith, or any authoritative text is not so that people can prove that its authoritative, but to actually change a person’s life… some folks are so concerned with trying to convince people that the Bible is true that they forget to allow it to illuminate themselves… to shine light into the darkness in their hearts. As a result, the Bible becomes a ‘weapon,’ and people use it to win battles over their opinions, rather than a guidebook for daily living. When I was in Israel, our tour guide, an Israeli Jew, said that you could go up to any Jewish person in Israel and ask them about what they believed about “end times,” and most of them wouldn’t have an answer. They are mostly concerned with correct living today, and the Torah is a book that helps you live right before God today. Its not for proving ideologies or theologies or its own veracity, it’s a guide for all that we do, think, and say.
It’d be great if we would all stop using the Bible, or any holy text for that matter, as a ‘weapon’ and start using it more as a guide to help us live and love in a way that transcends our own selfish natures and points people to the ultimate reality and fulfillment that we find in God.