Many men I have met inside prison had more inner freedom than citizens outside who do not see the iron bars they live within. On those visits at Attica, I bore witness to more focused desire to grow than I have ever seen outside—not in churches, or seminars, or therapy groups.
It is not too simple to say of the whole human enterprise through thousands of years that at any moment, only one of two things is happening. Either we are cursing and struggling to be seen and loved. Or we are blessing and being peace.
If we pull the camera lens way back on the Bible stories, so that all of them fit in one big picture, the way all of Planet Earth finally fit in the lens of a moonwalker’s camera many decades ago; if we pull so far back that the particular stories seem like Italies and Indias did to the spacemen, yet so clearly part of something bigger, what is that bigger thing, bigger than any single story, bigger even than all of them together, yet present and full in every single one of them?
Every year in America, thousands of churches fail because they had nothing to say to the children—the grown children, that is, like Abram and his wife Sarai when Papa Terah made Haran home. Consider. When we won’t cross the rivers always known to us for lands never yet shown to us, money is always the matter.
Jesus always demanded the discipline of diversity from his disciples. More than words, his teaching aid was a table of food and fellowship. His invitation was to any and to all to come together at table and eat. He got specific. Do not invite your friends and family to your feasts. Instead, he said, Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Two questions, now: Why them? And, now that we’re about 100,000 Sundays into the game, How are we doing?
I have never read stories of any nation so boldly self-critical as those of ancient Israel. What a gift! The people were old, tired, and few, say the stories, and they sinned monstrously. By all the stars, they should have failed. What did they do to get through? The answers are here in Just these few dozen stories called Genesis, kept because they contain lessons from the beginning for how a community in crisis can come through.