The News and the Bible

St. Tim's stained glass window    It is said that Karl Barth advised young theologians ‘to take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.’

On October 1 I posted about the magnificence of the sunset that evening as I drove home from work. I often have after thoughts about what I have  posted…and this one I immediately thought I should post a proviso. Reading the news with the lens of the Bible, isn’t easy these days. In the face of great tragedy at face value neither one makes sense. But then, the Bible was never meant to make its appeal to reason. Events like this defy reason and assault our sensibilities.

I was not insensitive or oblivious to the shooting in Roseburg, Oregon that day. We saw it most of the day on the lobby TVs and when I arrived home the President was speaking about this tragedy. But I couldn’t watch. I turned off the television and slid open the doors to the deck. Just then a large flock of geese came in for a landing on the pond outside my door. My thoughts, heavy, numb, sad, sick with another shooting, went to nature and to the sunset for solace.

What I wrote came in a flash, as they sometimes do. Looking back I  think too that that vibrant red-orange sunset was the blood orange of those who were making their way home. There was nothing to be said. Nothing could be said in the wake of such tragedy. But perhaps, just perhaps, the skies over the Heartland were reminding us that nothing, no one is lost to us. They remain, like the ever recurring sunrises and sunsets, to send us signs that they are safe at last in the beating heart of the Creator. Perhaps, just perhaps, the recurring seasons, remind us of the eternal round of life, that is never far away or lost to us, although at times it feels that way.

After our father died my sisters and I each got a ‘sign’ – each in a way that spoke to her assuredly that it came from the other side. It was a kind of assurance, a tap on the shoulder to indicate that life goes on, just in another way, that we cannot fully grasp nor see here. But I cannot loose my sense of the sacred; and perhaps that is why my meditation turned to the heavens, to the sky, to the sunset, to an indecipherable message written in colors across God’s palette.


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