Saturday, December 04, 2004

On Spirits and Stories

The week was long. The days are still hot. We spent copious time this week struggling with the administration of the school over petty things (and some not so petty things, like our salary). By Friday afternoon, I was exhausted and wanting to be anywhere but teaching fourth grade. Usually on Friday afternoons, I read to them, but we had finished our book and I didn’t want to start another one so close to the end of the semester. I explained how to make nouns plural, which they picked up rather quick (I’m sure they will forget it all by Monday). Not really caring about plurals, they asked me to tell them a story. Not really wanting to put forth the effort to drag them through singular/plural exercises, I obliged.

I asked them what they wanted to hear a story about. They said, “spirits,” “ghosts” “evil”. This wasn’t exactly the kind of story that I had in mind, but I thought for a minute and something came to mind.

In the second grade Bible class I teach, we had just talked about a story from Acts 16, where Paul casts the evil spirit out of a servant girl and ends up in jail. Paul prays and sings in jail and an earthquake shakes the doors open. I started telling this story and fourteen pairs of eyes stayed glued on me.

As I was telling the story, they stopped me, “Ma’am, true story ma’am?” I told them it was. I saw the fright on their faces of the idea of an evil spirit being inside a little girl. I saw them look relieved when Paul cast the spirit out. They had no problem believing that spirits were real. None of them tried to explain away about the spirit. There was no need to.

I thought for a while after that. The western world approaches spirits and spiritual ideas with great caution. Spirits need to be explained away with scientific explanations and nothing is real unless it can be proven. After being on planes and in airports for 44 hours, we stepped into a world where the seen and the unseen are equally real. Magic and ghosts are alive and well. The children have no problem believing that there was an evil spirit in a little girl. No one tried to explain it away as a seizure.

In other news:
Matt will be preaching tomorrow morning at a local church.
My leg is doing well, still slightly swollen, but much better.


Joshua Daniel Franklin said...

I wouldn't say people in the US think "nothing is real unless it can be proven," just that you can't rely on the unprovable--I'm thinking of the scene in the movie version of _Contact_ where Matthew McConaughey asks Jodie Foster if love is real.

Sure, there are probably a few people who don't believe in things like love, but I don't think they're as numerous as some churchgoers seem to believe.

M. Lumpkin said...

Are you purporting that your love for Molly is something that you can not or have not proven?

Anonymous said...

If DC Talk has taught us nothing else, it's that "love" is a verb.

Joshua Daniel Franklin said...

Not me! But, for example, B. F. Skinner might not consider it proven. Actually, anyone who doesn't trust me well would probably consider it unproven... mmm, relying on witness authority, tasty.

Viator said...

Aaaaand now (drumroll please!) . . .

Is it, uh, about time for, y'know, maybe another update?
For all your breathless fans?