Letter to the Editor

When will they/we ever learn?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dear Editor:

Dr. Jones made an appeal recently regarding the truth. In an earlier letter to the editor, I made a similar request. If you have followed his writings and what I have written, there are distinct differences. How can two people, supposedly educated, arrive at such different opinions? To seek to clarify how this can happen, I would like to offer some information.

I am a few years senior to Dr. Jones. That, in itself, is not a recommendation, but I have lived through more history than he has. I grew up in an isolated area of the Ozark Mountains of south-central Missouri. Educated in an elementary school in that area put me at a disadvantage as some might see it. If I have any advantage it is in the area of reading and comprehension. My high school education was unique in that we lived and worked year round in the high school. Students came from many different communities and family situations. Living and working together, my education was broadened. Attending and graduating from the University of Missouri exposed me to much new information and outlooks. As a teacher, there was a lesson regarding the learning ability of individuals. In-service training as an employee of the University of Missouri opened my eyes to the difficulty of communication. The human race has a vast area of communication, including the words we say, how they are said, body language and many other factors. The words I say, or write and the meaning that I try to convey are mine but may come across to the one who hears me in a completely different way. Actually, it is a miracle when real communication occurs.

My education took a completely different turn about 1960. Feeling the call to be a minister, I enrolled in a seminary to learn about the church and much information that was new to me. There my studies, with guidance from professors who had spent years studying their field, brought me into a different world. My experience was helpful up to that point, but there were/are gaps in my knowledge. Actually, my troubles with beliefs or struggles with what they were teaching were slight. My gratitude for the education received there was that I found solutions to problems and support for rational belief.

Another aspect that affected me deeply about the same time was the music of the time and the differing views of the world in which we lived about the problems faced at the time. Prejudices and conflicting opinions were all about us as people struggled with new information and the technology that was becoming so evident. It became apparent to me the truth of the statement, "if we do not study history, we are doomed to repeat it." One of the great songs of the time contained a version of the heading I have given to this effort.

Today, we hear the same trite sayings repeated ad infinitum and many people think they must be true. My own reading and conversation with others I consider very wise convinces me that our lack of understanding of history and of the world in which we live is leading us in a direction that will destroy us. A Scripture quotation often used is: "those who live by the sword will die by the sword." Many will argue that war is necessary, though millions of people have died, misery has been visited on billions and resources have been burned or destroyed, cannot be replaced and are not available to meet the present needs of the world's populations. One soldier, who has endured war, calls for the necessity of rooting out the evil that begins with small groups before it engulfs the world. Another, equally versed in war, speaks of waging peace and makes a strong appeal for this approach. It seems to me that many of the leaders of our own country, and those of others, have been struggling to find this balance. Leaders, who have seen war at its worst, have warned us of its dangers and the accompanying destruction, coupled with the aggregation of wealth by those who promote it, have spoken what I believe are great truths.

Those who advocate hatred, prejudice against groups, superiority and classes of certain privilege and of divisions may sound good and agree with your thinking. As a Christian, a citizen of the United States, and most of all, one who believes in a loving God who created all the world, asks each and every one of us to carefully examine our response and our answers to the problems facing us today.

One extreme example surfaced after Orlando. A very prominent person, who is a "self-proclaimed Christian leader," said our country was better because 50 of the greatest sinners were dead. There are many who agree with this man's opinion. Their interpretation of the Bible justifies their hatred. I, and many others, believe that Jesus, who Dr. Jones approves, interprets the Bible differently.

The basis for my claim can be found in Scripture. In 1 John 4:7ff, (NRSV) we find these words, "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world that we might live through him. -- Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another". In another saying Jesus reminds us to pray for our enemies, those who persecute us.

Even the Native Americans had an important saying: "Don't criticize another until you have walked in his moccasins for 30 days."

Again, I ask, when will we ever learn God has a simple answer? Love others and want what is best for them.

Lester Thornton