05 June 2018

The Bee

Bumblebee pollinating orange flower
Today, during Ramadan 1439, as I am refreshed and encouraged while musing upon "the bee" (surah xvi al-nahl/النحلة), I have renewed my understanding of why some are disconcerted about the mythological nature of many passages in sacred scripture (of all religions).  As adults we have learned the value of verifiable reason. As such we recognize that passages in sacred scriptures are not necessarily verifiable sources of detailed history.  So can these narratives about experiencing events be considered folktales and myths? 

I suggest labeling them as such should not necessarily be understood as being offensive. There is a foundation of actual historic fact underlying myths and stories passed down through time, whether or not they convey enough verifiable fact for us to justifiably recognize them as being actual history. What we can experience, instead, are the "stories" revealed to us about historic events for their value as object lessons, passed on to us as the lessons learned  by the original narrator - whomever it may have been - even though these renditions do not fulfill our desire for verifiable history. I suggest that as such, they are interpretations. 

When we encounter these narratives in sacred religious texts we considered them to be divinely inspired interpretations of known prophets, or of unknown prophets whose names may be lost in the fog of deep time but whose wisdom has not been lost.  However, interpretations of sacred scriptures do not limit deeper and additional insightful understanding of believers. And while the interpretations of clergy and learned religious academics are also of high value, neither do those interpretations limit deeper and additional insightful personal understanding.  The revealing of further insight and understanding is the nature of, a characteristic of, and a gift associated with the personal faith of a believer.  Regardless of the beliefs to which any one of of us is drawn, to know what we believe and why is the key to our own understanding, though not necessarily the key to understanding the beliefs of others.

Perhaps it is built into human nature, because we care, that we may doubt the faith of others and want "proof" of their faith which we are able to recognize in the same way we are accustomed to wanting proof from children about their understanding of everything.  However, at issue to each one of us, as adults, is not the faith of others, which many are tempted to doubt when other people do not express faith in ways we want to expect they should express it.  At personal issue is the viability of one's own faith - the maintenance of which is reaffirming and insightful as it guides and brings joy to our lives.

Everyone has faith in something - no matter one's religion or lack thereof, though it is not always expressed, by anyone, as best it can be in all that is said and done.  Myself, I do not expect people to believe exactly as I do even within the framework of  similarly expressed beliefs.   But I also do not suffer fools gladly who want to harass me and worse try to convert me because of what I personally believe, especially when I know I have not shared these thoughts with them.

As for me, whatever anyone's point of reference may be for choosing to step onto the path of living a life of faith as a believer, God willing, I recognize when the divinely inspired sincere faith of other folks is a personal experience much much larger and deeper in breadth and depth than only oneself . . . and other people.