Beginning at a very early age I tested everything. My earliest operational model was ‘don’t tell me what to do; for surely if you tell me something is bad then rest assured I am going to do it and find out for myself.’

It doesn’t take a genius here to see that the results for any child who takes a pragmatic approach to subjects requiring more adult like life experiences would obviously always prove to be more reckless than coherent. Consequently, my experimentations were met with more punishment than I care to remember.
FYI, I wrote a previous post – ‘My earliest crimes’ – that captured some of those lowlights.

Note: Pragmatism, noun. An approach that assesses the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application.
Correspondingly, rationalism is the application of reason to gain knowledge.

Combining the two, test everything. Throw out the impractical and the unsuccessful models and always be prepared to defend the remaining model(s) with reason; that is with measured data and data analysis.

So preamble aside, I was perusing my old hometown newspaper online this morning – scanning the obits, if you must know, for familiar faces – when I spied an article entitled ‘Liberated by grace’, written by E.J. Dionne.

E.J., judging by his/her attached email address, writes for the Washington Post. And I am guessing that Petoskey News picked up the article on the Associated Press wire and published it locally.

E.J.’s second paragraph outlines the nature of his/her argument, “Over the last few weeks, white Americans who never paid much attention to the religious convictions of their brothers and sisters of color have received an education. As has happened before in our history, much of this learning is prompted by tragedy, beginning with the murder of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and also a series of church burnings, not all of which have been explained.

E.J. goes on to say somewhere later, “But the church is about more than politics, and a liberating Gospel is also a Gospel of love. The family members of those slain at Emanuel AME astonished so many Americans by offering forgiveness to the racist shooter, Dylann Roof.
There was nothing passive about this act of graciousness, for forgiveness is also subversive. By offering pardon to Roof, said the Rev. Cheryl Sanders, professor of Christian Ethics at Howard University’s Divinity School, the families of the victims demonstrated that there was “something radically different” about their worldview. The act itself “was a radical refusal to conform to what’s expected of you. It’s a way to avoid hating back.” They were, she said, following Jesus, who declared on the cross: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

If you are so inclined to read the rest of the article, please click here – Liberated by grace.

I was very moved by the article, not just because the story itself was so well written about such an important subject nor because of E.J.’s careful and thoughtful linkage of the aspect of Christian grace to that recent tragedy; but more so by the dignified rationality that threaded the entire article.

I felt inclined to respond to E.J. and sent a quick email to his/her Washington Post email address.

I simply said, “I just read your lovely article – online – that was published in today’s PetoskeyNews (Michigan) and I felt compelled to respond. I am always immensely grateful when someone can articulate some aspect of the Christian faith rationally. Your well written story was much appreciated. Thank you very much for that.”

My personal response to anyone who disparages the Christian faith or the Bible is to merely ask if they’ve read the book. Because I liken the same experience to Book Club. You can’t go to Book Club and discuss that week’s book unless you’ve read the book.

If you do take time to read the book and study it I think you’ll be surprised by the shear immensity of connecting points. The book is interleaved to a complexity that can only be, by my way of thinking, supernatural. But you’ve got to read it front to back, back to front, and center out to both ends to begin to grasp the enormity of connecting points.
A written work of such multifaceted structure where the beginning foretells the end and the end explains the beginning, with reinforcing corresponding linkages through out, speaks to true rationality.
But you got to read the book…

PS – I know at least two of my atheist friends who find my Book Club argument objectionable (but I still like it).