Wednesday, June 4, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XXV

Essential Knowledge

Never before in history have we been surrounded by more information. Never before have we wanted so severely for essential knowledge!

It is easy and simplistic to lament the replacement of  "old" communications technology with new. In a way that misses the real point. Yes, I can use a search engine to find just about any published fact I want to know. Yes I can search for and look at thousands of news stories. Still a friend of mine lamented that real investigative journalism is sorely lacking these days. Very little 'reporting' gets very far beneath the surface. "There's not the money for it;" he opined. We are likely to hear over and over again what a handful of 'experts' think happened to a missing Malaysian airliner while no one bothers to lay out the background of the situation in Ukrania. In fact, on election night in 2008, we hear reporters celebrate the election of 'their' candidate, Obama, and almost in the same breath they admit: "We know very little about him.!"

There is no excuse for that. Bill Ayers helped him write a book and if you really wanted to understand the man who would be President, all you had to do was read it. Read in the context of who his parents and mentors were, it would tell you exactly what anti-colonial principles drove him. Vetting a Presidential candidate, even one who did NOT have an average American childhood, going instead to a Muslim school in Indonesia, is not rocket science. [1.]

But even more disturbing than the inability to investigate a candidate is the inability to pass along to our next generation the foundational truths our society and our great nation were built on.

I watched a little movie this past weekend that nicely packaged a bit of very important truth in an unlikely medium. It spoke of how the Divine is able to speak into a life through a simple interaction between two human beings. The movie, The Letter Writer shows how one person can speak the truth of Imago Dei into the life of another.

The Letter Writer (2011) puts essential knowledge in a new perspective using a most traditional medium.

Lessons from The Letter Writer

I use modern technology for a lot of my communications. This is no Luddite rant against it. The printing press was once new technology and it put the Bible in the hands of the people. I can read the Holy Scriptures on my Iphone now. I also communicate with family using it. FaceTime with my granddaughter is a great blessing. Facebook helps me pray for those close to me. Smugmug is the family photo album we can all share. Yet, when my young friend and colleague and her fiancee graduated from college recently, I felt a REAL card was in order. Clicking the 'LIKE' button does lack the personal touch that paper and ink provide.

This is the wonderful discovery that Maggie Fuller makes as she receives a mysterious letter from someone she does not know. Tracking down the source brings Maggie into a wonderful journey discovering how her life can serve as a beacon to others. The young singer tracks down the letter writer and finds an unlikely community of mentorship in love and servanthood. Her Epiphany comes about as she joins her new friends in singing Henry Alford's famous hymn: Come Ye Thankful People, Come [click to read more]. The story speaks of how truth and values can and should be passed from one generation to another. Unrealistic? A lot of secular critics dismissed the film and its message, but think of how Jewish culture places the transferal of great truth in the context of the Passover Meal. Think of the Redemptive message of the celebration of the Eucharist.

Walking with my little granddaughter on the tree shaded campus of the nearby college, I find myself humming the tune of Come Ye Thankful People, Come. She smiles as I show her squirrels and bright flowers. Is the message of the movie really so unrealistic? Our Pastor shared with us the story of a little church in our denomination (Mennonite) that prayed for a vision of what G-d might do through them... not a program that THEY would do, but the true seeking of an opportunity to allow G-d to work through them. Through much prayer they felt drawn to minister to the youth of their community. There was a problem, however, as the YOUNGEST member of the congregation was in her sixties!

They shared the vision with their Pastor and continued to pray. There was NO WAY this congregation was ever going to pull off the youth coffee house type of outreach or anything of the kind! But a funny thing happened. The older people, now with enlarged vision for the young people in their neighborhoods, found themselves building relationships where once they might have been saying: "Keep off my grass!" Kids started conversing with older neighbors. Gradually they ventured onto the front porch. Eventually they were enjoying warm cookies and milk in the kitchen. These kids didn't need another youth-centered event, they needed some FAMILY!... and that is just what the church was able to give them.

(to be continued)

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