There are two sorts of rumor. The first case being that of gossip which is slanderously spread in order to hurt a person or persons. The second case is more like oral news from a far away place that spreads out slowly and clumsily and sometimes gets mixed up or embellished along the way. Of the first case I have nothing here to say. Of the second, I will say the following.
We must be careful concerning rumor. Even legend, fable and myth cannot be viewed without some pause from their readers.
Once upon a time, Americans heard rumors about the atrocities taking place in Europe during World War II. These rumors were so incredible that many people just did not find them credible.
However, when our soldiers actually showed up in Europe, they found out the following about those rumors. They discovered that the rumors were true. The rumors had in fact become fact. Further, the atrocities these soldiers actually witnessed exceeded what the rumors had reported.
This is why I say that we must be careful concerning rumor.
It has been said that the Jewish book is a Holy Book. For illustrative purposes I hope you will not mind if I here mention that it is like a sort of book of rumors; and that when it was given me it was promptly asserted that it was divinely inspired by the inventor.
My eyes danced a bit and I thought, yeah. I then read the whole thing.
I will say that the other holy books are full of wonderful stories, psalms, proverbs, laws and regulations, ceremonial rituals and the like.
Not so with the Hebrew Holy Book. It is more like a historic record than it is anything else. It is not at all what I would have expected from a Holy Book. All of its psalms, proverbs and laws seem to be an aside, while the story of this people known by their God takes center stage.
The story these people have recorded makes them look, quite frankly, as though they are in some sort of very big trouble.
Now, it is said that the Hebrew people wrote their Holy Book. I will say that, if not divinely inspired, I have concluded that these folks were followed about for a period of about one-thousand years and coerced by spear point, or fully stretched and loaded bow: and forced to, “Tell it! exactly-the-way-it-really happened.”
It is unlike any inside story I have ever read. Other inside historic accounts make a people look honorable, powerful, victorious and heroic. This people, however, wrote a tale largely steeped in tragedy, despicable deeds (private matters folks don’t discuss, let alone publish).
Why, they even record their own God calling them prostitutes. Had it been me I’d have kept that one under my hat. These Hebrew people recorded a history that is heavy; a history that is not very flattering, at that.
If this book was not divinely inspired—if the Hebrew people invented it—then it seems to me that they should come to their senses and disclaim the whole thing; or at the least edit it.
Yet, they call it their Holy Book. Either it was divinely inspired, or they are a people gone completely and utterly mad. If it is divinely inspired, then this people did as they were told concerning this: they wrote it down exactly as it really happened.
And although tempted to shake a finger at these folks, this act of writing down the whole account won’t let me.
This act hushes me. In fact, it nearly seems to subpoena me.
For, it is reasonable to believe that one man, perhaps two...even three or five men could go mad and agree upon a conspiracy against themselves. But for an entire nation of human beings to agree upon a conspiracy which largely makes the human race look an ass? to believe this takes a strong faith, if not a fantastic faith!
These men recorded the truth about the human condition. And something influenced them to do so. There is no nation who records all that really happened.
They have left for us, the readers, suggestions of our own secret conspiracy to be left alone by God.
It is the account of humans flitting and piddling about with all their exhaustive auditions for some thing to satisfy what appears to be a common, secret, permanent human ache. And when the Divine comes up for consideration as a possible object, we humans hastily determine, “No, He could not be it.”
We conclude that the cause of human suffering is God and that the object of all our longing is something other. The Hebrew Holy Book suggests that we humans have it all turned around. It suggests that the cause of human suffering is humans and that the true object of all our longing is the Divine, Himself.
This does nothing to promote all our self sought endeavors to find our own solitary happiness. An endeavor which, if we are honest, has been hard work for us, even investment.
This human pursuit, this investment, is somewhat disturbed by this Jewish story and also by the Christian documents.
It disturbs our own pursuits because the main thrust therein lies in the suggestion that all our work has been a vain and meaningless endeavor. That we have been heading for progress in the wrong direction.
This Book prompts us to do the intolerable.
It challenges our entire life-paradigm. It reckons our pursuit to be left alone by our Maker to be a pursuit for a bridge out ahead. And this not only horrifies us, but it hurts our feelings.
Our thinking becomes inflexible because we have invested so much of ourselves into this endeavor to find our own happiness.
And as we follow this God about [in reading this Book of Rumors], taking on His perspective, we see Him appearing to hold back, or restrain Himself in some strange way. However, this restraint does not seem at all to stem from what we should recognize as weakness. He appears to restrain Himself on purpose.
It is, in some ways, comparable to our own delay of punishment to a child under our care when that child is behaving in such a way as to spoil all our plans for his good.
Of course, the Hebrew Book seems to freeze this people’s story at the cross-roads, if you will. The Divine appears to have said His piece and gone into a retreat of sorts; he appears to have pulled back for a time. Yet, His people were the ones to pen the whole tragedy.
For this, my respect for the Jewish people is unfathomably deep.
Faith is indeed a Jester in their court, puzzling the world to be for sure. They were the only ones to be so bold. Perhaps the Divine was right in saying that through this people all people’s of earth would be blessed.
They have braved the first and most treacherous of battles in the struggle for human redemption. The battle of: The Truth about Us.
The truth being not only our need for redemption, but our being the cause for there being a need for it in the first place. Something good will have to come from this people’s audacity to believe.
This is why I find the Hebrew Holy Book, with all of its myth, legend and rumor to be credible: it is entirely unembellished.
I find the same odd phenomena in the Christian legends; and I find them credible for the same reason.
We must be careful concerning rumor.
Once upon a time, the whole world heard rumors of a nation known by their God. They heard myth, they heard tales, they heard rumors of a God with a mind and a heart. They heard rumors of a Mighty Who creating man in His own image. Many found these rumors too incredible to believe.
And then, the most audacious of rumors began to circulate. A rumor suddenly surfaces that the God of the Jewish Nation had become a man in order to join with man in his humanity and in order to rescue them from the wrath of God. It was rumored that there would one day be an ultimate Day of Awe. Also, that there would be a day of feasting and of reward and debriefing from this life’s struggles.
These were even more preposterous and incredible to believe.
Perhaps one day it will so happen, when we land on that further shore, that all those rumors will suddenly become fact. And that the actual rest and reward will even exceed the rumors. Or else, well, we know not what for we have yet to arrive.
This is, finally, why I say that we must be careful about rumor. Even legend, fable, and myth cannot be viewed without some pause from their readers.
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