The Human Experience

Dad reading to son

“There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human – in not having to be just happy or just sad – in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.” ~ C. JoyBell C.

“Studying whether there’s life on Mars or studying how the universe began, there’s something magical about pushing back the frontiers of knowledge. That’s something that is almost part of being human, and I’m certain that will continue.” ~ Sally Ride

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” ~ Oscar Wilde

The other night Barry and I watched The Da Vinci Code again. It’s a movie we love. The book was also very good. Watching it reminded me of the huge controversy that exploded when the book came out.

Our DVD has a bonus disc with a History Channel documentary about the book/movie and the source material that the book is based upon. You may be surprised to know that the idea of Jesus and Mary Magdalen being married and having children is not new. There are documents found at Nag Hammadi that indicate an extremely close relationship between Jesus and Mary. There are no documents stating that they were married, but knowing the Jewish practices, it would have been highly unusual for Jesus not to marry and have children.

As I recall, Dan Brown’s life was threatened because many Christians could not see Jesus as both human and divine. Some time later a similar book, The Expected One, was published and I know Kathleen McGowan received death threats. It’s story is similar to Dan Brown’s book, but it has a female protagonist and takes place over a much longer time period. It focuses on what happened to Mary and her children after the crucifixion. Through Mary’s leadership, her followers have different belief systems and practices than the church that becomes the Catholic Church, and that makes them a target for destruction.

It’s been forty years since I graduated with a Religious Studies degree. Watching the movie reminded me of how upset some of my fellow students got when they learned that all the books of The Bible were written decades after the events they relate. And that they were most likely written by anonymous authors, rather than the people who’s names are attached to them. I didn’t understand their feelings. The reason I was studying was to expand my knowledge. I expected my studies to shake up my belief system.

Some students didn’t like learning that what they’d been taught might be wrong. They had never considered that The Bible was written in one ancient language, then translated into three or four other languages before it was translated into English. Each version couldn’t help but be interpreted by a human being through the lens of their own culture and prejudices. I think what the students didn’t want to accept was that The Bible couldn’t possibly be dictated word for word by God. That’s not to say there aren’t truths within it but the concepts come through human filters.

Though I don’t remember all the details of what the source material was for each of the books of The Bible, I do remember I felt excited when I was told that the documents were written by ordinary people trying to make sense out of their extraordinary experiences. Or that they were trying to record the stories of the encounters their ancestors had with the Divine. These stories had been passed down generation to generation word of mouth and the writers wanted to preserve them for posterity. That fact made me feel more connected to The Bible. People like me had tried to understand the human/God connection just like I was trying to do. Knowing that made me feel less alone.

There is a quote from the play/movie Inherit the Wind that I love. “The Bible is a book. It is a good book, but it is not the only book.” The play is about the historical Scopes trial that took place in 1925 and much of the dialogue in the trial scenes are lifted from witness testimony.

In the play and in real life, a teacher breaks the law and introduces his students to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and is, of course, arrested for it. We’re still fighting over which is true, the creation story as written in The Bible, or the theory of evolution. Henry Drummond, the defense attorney, based on the real life attorney, Clarence Darrow, is the one who says the above quote and posits the idea that maybe both viewpoints are true. I love that idea because I think he was right, The Bible is just one example of human beings trying to understand our relationship with the Divine.

There are so many documents that are considered scripture that attempt to do the same thing. Each one has a different perspective of who we are, why we’re here, how we were created, and what our relationship to a divine power might be. I think those are the biggest questions we humans have and lots of people, not just religious leaders, try to find the answers to those questions. Darwin was just one of them.

People who pursue careers in the arts, humanities and sciences are trying to answer those same questions. They dig for information, or they do experiments, or explore, or interpret their own experience onto canvas, into dance, or they use the written word to try to understand what it means to be a human being. They aren’t any different than the people who wrote the documents of The Bible. And yet, as we grow in understanding and new information comes to light, we get an opportunity to adjust our belief systems.

I’ve never stopped being curious about how humans relate to the Divine. I’m always looking for that element in all my entertainment, in the discussions I have with friends, family and my students. When I write, like many others before me, I’m trying to understand what it means to be a human being. That quest is one of the reasons I left the church. I didn’t want to be constrained by a particular doctrine. The world is much larger than that.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate reading your thoughts. Have a lovely weekend on this Summer/Winter solstice.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Published by lucindasagemidgorden

I grew up in the West, the descendant of people traveling by wagon train to a new life. Some of their determination and wanderlust became a part of me. I imagine them sitting around the campfire telling stories, which is why I became first a theatre artist, then a teacher and now a writer. They are all ways of telling stories.

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