Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A World Without the Beatles

Today allow me to mix in a little movie review with this installment of Moments with the Minster.  Not long ago I went to see the film Yesterday.  It’s a delightful and heart-warming story of a struggling musician who mysteriously is brought to a world where the Beatles never existed. No one else but himself knows these songs that defined rock n roll in the 1960’s. Once he realizes this, he makes himself famous singing all the tunes of the Fab Four. He becomes an overnight sensation. Of course, he faces the moral dilemma of essentially stealing these songs as well as trying to balance a love interest. There are also some other amusing and interesting peculiarities of this modified world. It’s definitely worth the price of admission especially for those of us who grow up idolizing the Beatles.

Now here comes a little spoiler, so if you don’t want to read on and are frustrated that you came to this column wanting some spiritual insight, then I suggest you just put down the paper and read the Bible. It’s much better than anything I ever write anyway. With that said, let’s proceed.

Throughout the main character’s rise to fame there are two people who obviously know what’s going on. While the rest of the world is oblivious to this altered reality, these two remember John, Paul, Ringo, and George.  They recognize these songs. They know he’s a fraud. As these two insiders are followed throughout the movie the audience wonders what they will do.  Will they expose the scam? Will they threaten blackmail demanding a piece of the profit in exchange for their silence?

The day comes when these two confront the now famous singer. And their reaction is unexpected. Instead of criticizing or threatening they embrace the singer with overwhelming expressions of thankfulness and gratitude for giving them back the songs they remember and love. A beautiful piece of their world that was taken away has been restored and for that they are grateful. It took these songs being taken away for them to truly appreciate them. Their absence accentuated their brilliance.

That scene made me think about all the beautiful pieces of my life that I often take for granted. I thought about a world without my wife and children.  A world without my friends. A world without my faith. Do I truly recognize all the beautiful things of this life? What would my world be like without them?

I suppose every movie leaves each member of the audience with a somewhat different message, but this one reminded me to be grateful. It reminded me of all the songs people have sung into my life and how each one of those songs have made my world a better place. It made me wonder how less the world would be without them and how I need to live in daily appreciate for what is.

Too often we are resentful for what we don’t have rather than grateful for what do have. Without a doubt, the world would be a lesser place without the Beatles but how much more would the world be a lesser place without so many of the other splendors of this world? We are indeed blessed.

So, let’s not forget to embrace with overwhelming expressions of thankfulness and gratitude those people who make our yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s so fabulous.

A Tale of Two Trips

Last month I got to take the trip of a lifetime. I got to go to Israel which, especially for a minister, is like letting a kid loose in a candy store. I ate up every single artifact, ruin, and historical site.  I have read about these places for decades, but to actually be there - to see these them with my own eyes - is beyond description. There it was all right in front of me. I walked through the holy city of Jerusalem. I looked down upon the ruins of ancient Jericho. I prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane just down from the Mount of Olives. I sailed on the Sea of Galilee.  Capernaum, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Dan, Beersheba, the Jordan River – all of them - I was there. My eyes have seen what only my ears had heard. All of those places mentioned in the pages of the Bible actually exist.

One critique of Scripture is that it’s just a book of myths and fairy tales.  Stories created to provide a history and legacy for the Jewish nation.  Fables of a Jewish rabbi invented decades later to provide a foundation for a new religion. Sure, there are some wonderful truths contained in this ancient book, but to actually believe that the stories have any historical basis is asking people to suspend their sense of reality.

Last month some of my family got to take a trip of a lifetime. They got to go to London. In addition to taking in all the customary sites of the old town they took a side trip to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio tour. Here were some of the sets where the blockbuster movies were filmed. They saw Daigon Alley, The Great Hall, Gringotts Wizarding Bank, walked through the Forbidden Forest, and saw the Hogwarts Express.  What an experience for those Harry Potter fans. Yet as mesmerizing and spellbinding that visit may have been, the fact of the matter is that all those places are fictional. There is no Hogwarts Express. There is no Wizarding Bank. There is no Daigon Alley.

That’s the difference between the Bible and Harry Potter. The world of Harry Potter is made up. It’s not real. And that’s okay because never does the author imply that her books are history. The world of the Bible is not made up. And that’s important because the Bible does make the claim that it’s talking about real people and real places. The Bible talks about Abraham, David, Jesus, and Paul as if they were real human beings who walked the earth. The Bible talks about Ur, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Capernaum as if they are actual places on a map. And although not every person or place mentioned in the Bible has been verified archaeologically, enough have been to lead to the undeniable conclusion that Scripture’s claim to be the story of real people and real places cannot be reasonable disputed.

To believers, this adds a deeper layer to our faith. Since we can trust the Bible in regard to the historical and geographical details, we surely can trust it in matters of faith.  To non-believers, it gives an air of credibility to an ancient text that many simply dismiss as being a work of fanciful fiction with little or no basis in history. The message of the Bible is too important to ignore based on the assumption that is on the level of Harry Potter.

I believe the Bible to be true. True in matters of history and, more importantly, true in matters of life and faith. The Bible is the true story of our God who created us and redeemed us. And I’ve seen it with my own eyes.