Monday, August 31, 2009

Do the Hoaxy Pokey

At church this morning the priest centered part of her sermon on the Prayer of St. Francis. It is found in the book of common prayer and on cross-stitch and calligraphied framed art everywhere. The BCP rightly calls the prayer "A Prayer Attributed to Saint Francis." Why "attributed"? Because Frank didn't write it, and the prayer itself can be traced back to 1912, not the 13th century.

This brings up the issue of legend and reality, and how the border between the two is so easily blurred.

When I was growing up, I went to a missionary Baptist church and I was very involved in the youth group. One day, one of my teachers put a copy of the Arkho Volume in my hands. For those who don't know it, read a brief introduction to the Arckho Volume here. The Archko Volume is essentially a (fake) account of interviews with the members of the Sanhedrin who convicted Jesus and even an interview with a shepherd who saw Jesus' star! It is an utter fabrication, an amatuerish one at that, and I believed it without question as a young adolescent. The book was originally written, in my opinion, to convince skeptics to become Christians without the burden of having faith.

I could write for hours here about the importance of demythologizing our culture-religion and starting again with a trusting relationship with God, one with pitfalls and uncertainty. But for know I think I will simply say that the truth of the church is always stranger than fiction, and more importantly, God and the Holy Scriptures can and should stand up to our most rigorous examination. Thanks be to God!

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