It’s study time. I head down the windy path to the study chalet, Farel House. It’s a 3 min walk through the memorial garden and pass by the volleyball field and the Bradford’s little apple orchard. Farel has a certain magic to it. A library-magic. The shelves are kinda quiet as you pass by and let your eyes roll over the spines. But don’t be fooled. There’s wisdom on every shelf.
Getting lost in books need not be a bad thing. But often, an introduction is really where it’s at. This is where the lecture collection comes in: “What is reality?”, “Shame and the Fig Leaf Fashion” or “Praying at Burger King”. On a slow day, I flip through and grab the first that catches my attention. Good old Start Anywhere. The lectures are mostly by folks, who’ve been seriously wrestling with the material. You might not always agree with the speaker, but then again, you don’t go to L’Abri to be patted on the back.
I sit myself upstairs, where large panorama windows open to what Amelia calls her “favorite view on the planet”: A majestic mountain range struts high – right on the other side of a deep valley. A living postcard. So overwhelming, that people sometimes can’t believe its real when they arrive … The sun is warm enough for the balcony, but I’ve got reading to do.
I read lightly in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. But I’m halted by a section that puzzles me. Paul presents a list of stumbling blocks … But what does he mean by “Party Spirit?” … I grab a commentary on the letter and walk through the passage. It turns out, that he’s referring to “faction making” or “clique forming” in the Galatian church. A killer for any community. Including this one.
Next, I dive into an article on science and scripture, by L’Abri fellows George Diepstra (Biology Professor) and Dr. Greg Laughery (Philosophy and Theology scholar). It’s heavy material. I’m in deep waters, gasping through with the dictionary on overtime. It’s serious, potent material about how Christians need to acknowledge nature – and therefore science – as an informer. (See Romans 1:18). Meanwhile, we can insist that science needs to be true to it’s form, and not claim supremacy as a meta-narrative.
Tough passages expose how theology has been seriously influenced by rationalist thinking. Particularly concerning the creation story. If we read Genesis literally as a straight historical account, we read it like a modernist. But Genesis itself signals, that it’s written in a different genre. Laughery and Diepstra calls it ”a founding narrative – a creative-poetic text”. Others refer to it as “Poetry/Myth”. Myth, not as in Fairy Tale, but in as in truth-potent narrative.
In a sense, that could come as a great relief. It allows scripture to hold its own, while being open for dialogue with scientific discoveries, be they from neuroscience or evolution. We can take a deep breath and wipe “The Bible falls, unless 7 days means 7×24 hours” off the chalkboard. The problem never was science. The problem is how we read and interpret. There’s little way around that, it seems. Following then, is figuring out what are the better (or worse) interpretations.
What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to use the comments section below.
The sun is setting. Clouds are forming around the mountain tips in yet unseen patterns. I hear soft sounds from lower floor: students are washing mugs and gathering their books, headphones and slippers. We head up the winding path in dark blue light, while warm hues shines cozily from the Chalet’s. We reach Bellevue with visible breath. Chatter, clanks and laughter flows from the L’Abri kitchen: Ramen Noodles!?