New Monasticism 8: “…full of grace & truth.” Pt. 1

Hello everyone! I can only offer my apologies for my disjointed efforts as this sharing of thoughts begins drawing to its close. However, after reading chapter 8 again today, I am at least thankful for the time that has passed since my first reading. The first time I read chapter 8, I walked away unsure how to communicate anything real from it. I felt distracted and without focus. Returning to the material at hand, two particular things stood out to me. I’d like to treat these separately, so they will appear as two different posts.

To begin this first post, I am giving you a name and an event from recent history. Take a moment to think after you read them. What do you know of the man named? What do you think of him as a person? What part did he play in the event and why?

Ready? OK, here they are.

William Jennings Bryan & the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Take a few moments to mull it over and recall all you can.

Got it? Now, I’m going to give you what the author gave me – information I wasn’t aware of.

William Jennings Bryan was a “progressive reformer who advocated for women’s suffrage, preached against imperial war-making, and resisted corporate control of public life.” What he is most known for, mounting a campaign against the theory of evolution, is the only thing I knew of him prior to reading these words. Furthermore, we are invited into his reasons for fighting against the theory of evolution. First, he did believe that evolution contradicted scripture because it tells us God created man in His image, but he also believed teaching evolution as fact would “inevitably lead to social Darwinism, where the poor and needy whom Christ had blessed would be deemed unfit for survival because they were an impediment to human progress.”

Is that as unfamiliar a picture of William Jennings Bryan to you as it was to me?

While the author used him as an example of some the problems we face because of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, something I will go into in more detail in the next post, I was more struck by thought that a man like this would be exceedingly rare in our present day. Where we have been more divided along lines of political and moral left and right, he might be seen as trying to live in both worlds yet at the same time in neither. I wish I had heard more of this man than the neutered version conveniently portrayed in textbooks and sermons.

That wish is why I am taking a moment to write an entirely separate post. His example and the seeming dismissal of a whole picture of him in telling the story has challenged me and I hope it also challenges you. It reminds me to be careful. It also challenges me to be authentic even when that does not fit into an agreed upon mold in this world.

I can’t really think of more to say at the moment. Any thoughts you’d care to share?



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