As part of a recent religion in America report on the evening news a reporter stopped a placid looking middle-aged man who had apparently just stepped out of the church where he had attended mass. He was thrown a sissy pitch and asked to name the first four books of the New Testament. Sad to say, instead of knocking that one confidently out of the park he whiffed--whiffed! From his reaction to the question, nonplussed silence, one might have thought he had been asked to state and prove on the spot Fermat's last theorem. Studies may show America to be one of the most "religious" nations on the planet, but "religious" seems to be a Brobdingnagian garment commodious enough to fit any wearer who chooses to mark X in the box which asks him if he is religious.
Unfortunately, many religions, churches, and assorted Elmer Gantrys lick their chops at the prospect of a flock of these obedient, unquestioning, and pliable sheep who seem to welcome with relief being led around by the nose (and don't mind paying for the privilege) by any Pooh-Bah with a rope an a will. For far too many it is a comfort to turn over the burdensome task of serious study, thought, and prayer to someone else, and there never seems to be a shortage of someone elses. It was to better than many among us to whom Christ Jesus spoke when he said, no doubt with a leaden heart: "Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."
Once again I hope I am not alone in finding the final section of this week's lesson, "Doctrine of Atonement", distasteful and unsettling. To end the lesson with Jesus nailed to the cross could only appeal to those who would delight in hearing the chant, as the curtain drops, of the gloomily doleful "Stabat Mater dolorosa" as they kneel reverently before a crucifix, trembling in ecstasy like "St. Theresa in her wild lament". If that horrific closing tableau in this week's lesson doesn't give any Christian Scientist worthy of the name at least a twinge of the heebie-jeebies I don't know what would. "St. Paul said: 'For I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.' (I Cor ii 2) Christian Science says: I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him glorified." (S&H 200: 25-29)
If you think this is really nitpicking at the bottom of the barrel please fire at will, i.e., affix a gently reproving comment. If the sap is beginning to run a bit thin here I can always find something else to do with my time.
Note: In reference to the note posted a day later to the second entry before this one, I have rechecked and find that in the November 15-21 lesson John 5: 7 is not included, but the more objectionable John 5: 4 is.
The 200 in the previous entry is an acknowledgment that it was the 200th entry in this blog.