Beanery Online Literary Magazine

February 22, 2010




Joe F. Stierheim

     During the week I found a plastic grocery bag hanging on the front door of the Unitarian Universalist Church. I looked in the bag and saw that it contained two videotapes and, thinking it was a delivery that someone in the congregation had requested, I took it into the church and out of the weather.

     On Sunday I found out that no one knew anything about the tapes. On closer inspection it was found that the tapes were a two-part copy of “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. It is assumed that they were left at the church as an act of proselytizing—trying to make our congregation aware of the Truth.
     In the January UUFLV Newsletter there was pictured a circular design that incorporates the symbols of fourteen religions. There are many in each of those religions who believe that their religion is based on the Truth. Add to those religions others whose designs are not pictured, plus the groups who profess atheism or the status of being “nonreligious,” and you have quite a few “Truths”. Problems arise when those believing in one Truth object to some other group or individual believing in an opposing Truth.
     Does anybody have the Truth? In spite of centuries of argument, wrangling and much worse activities, all we have are beliefs. Sometimes these very beliefs become so important that they occupy the whole focus of life. To make these beliefs and their differences the basis of division and a reason for illogical and damaging argument is a constant danger.
     It is possible that the person who left the videotapes hanging on the door latch of the church did so out of love—a desire to make others aware of something that would be for their benefit.

     It is also possible that the act was one of fear. Despite their protestations to the contrary, many who have any given belief are not really secure in that belief. Lingering doubts plague them. The act of convincing others that the belief is true is a method of strengthening their own wavering faith. Such people are often the most active in proselytizing. Their own security depends upon it.
     The UU theologian Forrest Church likens Truth to light coming through the windows of the world’s cathedral. The light coming through each window has a different appearance and an observer of this light does not have the ability to look through all windows at once. Through which window the observer looks and his own personal makeup determine the “Truth” that he sees.

     Church also pointed out that people have a pronounced tendency to divide over disagreements. They stress their negations, assume that only one person can be right in an argument, and muster passion only for division. In this context Church was speaking specifically of Unitarian Universalists, but the comment is applicable to people in general. Intolerance exists in many forms and at many levels. When unchecked it frequently results in unpleasantries—including wars.
     And what of the videotapes that were hanging on the door of the UU church? I have them. I’m going to watch them. I want to find out what makes the story so great. Perhaps the photography, the script, the direction and the acting play a part. Or it could be that Truth, or a piece of it—call it truth, is a part of the story, for I believe that that’s just the way it is: a piece of the Truth is a part of every sincere belief. Some day the people of the world may find the wisdom to listen to each other and start to construct a meaningful Belief for the benefit of all.




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