I had a very interesting conversation with my family while driving around Atlanta a few days ago, and I just remembered that I wanted to post about it.
My immediate family members are all practicing Catholics. My two younger brothers and I went to a convent-grade school/junior high, a Franciscan high school, and my middle brother and I are currently attending a Catholic college. I've studied my faith, its history and traditions, and the Bible fairly extensively. I'm certainly not the best Christian or Catholic ever to walk the face of the planet...but I know my stuff and I practice what I preach.
However, my family also raised me to use my brain...this sometimes can catch my mother off guard when it comes to matters of faith. She is a wonderful woman and easily one of the most truly Christian women I have ever or will ever know.
I have begun to label myself a Deist Catholic. Deism is a philosophical interpretation of God and faith applied to religion...Deism.com defines deism as such:
Deism is the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe, perpetuated and validated by the innate ability of human reason coupled with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions of having received special divine revelation.
While I don't buy into the deist philosophy one hundred percent, I very much appreciate its emphasis on using one's own brain to figure things out.
With the background set up now, I can get to the conversation.
My mother is intrigued by miracle stories, both modern and Biblical. I...am skeptical. The topic of conversation in the car on this particular day was the multiplying of loaves and fish (...the story would have first appeared in Mark, as it was the earliest Gospel written, so I'm going to refer to this particular version...Chapter 6 verses 34-44). Mark writes that Jesus went out to a deserted place; this means of course that he probably was out in the desert. Some 5,000 people followed him in the hopes that he would preach to them.
I don't even like to drive around for work each day without a bottle of water and an apple in the car...the idea that 5,000 people picked up and ran headfirst into the desert and then many hours later said to themselves, "CRAP! We didn't bring any food!" is one hundred percent ridiculous. The solution is somewhat less miraculous and awe-inspiring but just as important to Jesus' message.
When the people in the front of the crowd with food saw that Jesus was instructing his Apostles to share their food with those people who maybe hadn't realized how long they would be outside and hadn't brought enough sustenance, they acted in accordance with the instructions and began to pass around their own food. These acts of goodwill made their way among all the people present until all 5,000 people had enough to eat. I mean...they followed him to learn, right? The miracle story isn't about Jesus' power...it's about his revealing man's capacity and willingness to help himself, which is a great message!
My mom did concede this particular argument to me, which is always nice.
I won't claim to have a realistic interpretation of every miracle story or a logical explanation for every religious phenomena. And I'm certainly not an authority on all things Christian...but I would implore all Christians to think for themselves once in a while. God gave you a brain so you could use it.
That's all I've got.
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