[Editor’s Note: Following are personal observations and conclusions I have reached. You may not agree with some or all of them and that’s okay. Think about some of the important observations and conclusions you have come to during your lifetime. Hey, I might not agree with some or all of yours either, but, it’s an informative and fun reflection on your life experiences.]
From infancy I attended Sunday school and church. I went on to college and seminary and was, somewhat simultaneously, a pastor/teacher for 50-plus years. Living life observantly has taught me more about religion, the church and the spiritual life that I could’ve ever absorbed from books. Here are a few serious (and silly) lessons I’ve learned:
♦ Most church signs display either bad spelling, poor grammar or faulty theology. Some, all three!
♦ Churches say they want to grow, but they don’t want to bring in new people with new ideas. They say “We’ve never done it that way before.”
♦ Christians preach generosity and practice frugality.
♦ Faith comes not from knowing; faith comes from not knowing. Faith does not arrive at what we’ll know, but journeys toward what we’ll never know.
♦ In spite of what some Christians believe, not everything in the Bible is demonstrably true.
♦ Atheists spend too much time talking about God. Think about it. Unicorns and trolls don’t exist, so we don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about them.
♦ Don’t count on tomorrow. It might not come.
♦ Everyone knows the “Golden Rule”; almost no one follows it.
♦ If Jesus returns on a Saturday evening, he won’t be in church on Sunday morning.
♦ There’s absolutely no saving grace in years of faithful church attendance.
♦ Love your neighbor, but erect a sturdy fence.
♦ Treat animals like you believe in reincarnation.
♦ In the long run, it IS true that “what goes ’round comes round.’
♦ It is not true that you can’t worship on the golf course or at the seashore as well as you can in church.
♦ Never make change out of the offering plate.
♦ Preachers who cannot properly interpret Shakespeare (17th Century English) shouldn’t be interpreting the King James Version of the Bible.
♦ Christians say heaven is a wonderful place, but they don’t seem overly anxious to go there.
♦ We humans are just discovering what the Creator has known all along.
♦ Just because a creed is old and oft-repeated does not make it true.
♦ The Ten Commandments do NOT need to be displayed; they need to be obeyed.
♦ According to physics, for every action there is an equal, opposite reaction; for every good there is an equal, opposite evil.
♦ The most abhorrent sin is bigotry. Bigotry thrives on a false sense of superiority. Bigotry is a disgusting form of hypocrisy.
♦ If parishioners cannot remember what the morning sermon was about, then the homily was either poorly constructed, feebly delivered or simply not worth remembering!
♦ Humans believe (and live) too many half-truths.
♦ It is better to be wrong and stand corrected than to be corrected and then take a wrong stand.
♦ If you fall for everything, you won’t believe in anything.
♦ The ways we are alike have a difficult time surfacing through the ways we are different.
Sometime, set aside some time to jot down the general, personal, religious/spiritual lessons you have learned in your lifetime, so far. I suspect it will be a longer list than you imagined. According to phrases.org.UK, Julius Caesar recorded the earliest known version of this proverb: “Experience is the best teacher.”
(c) 2017, L. Milton Hankins (all rights reserved)
[L. Milton Hankins is a theologian, former pastor, author and columnist and the publisher of Columnist with a View (columnistwithaview.com). He lives with his wife Deborah and Jose, their three year old chihuahua, in Ashland, Kentucky. This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch. Milt’s e-mail address is email@example.com]