Sunday, April 29, 2007

People of the Book

In an online community, a discussion recently broke out on our identity as People of the Book. Of course, the question was immediately asked: just which book are we people of? Since this community is mostly Anglicans, there were two immediate choices: the bible and the Book of Common Prayer. Now, just about every word in the BCP comes directly from the bible, including the entire psalter. And our catechism says that everything necessary for salvation can be found in scripture, but it does not say that everything in scripture is necessary for salvation. So which book comes first?

This question rolled around in my mind for a couple weeks, like a marble. It would rest here for a time, then get jogged loose, roll around, and rest over there for a time. And I think I have the answer. I am a person of the book. Which book? All of them.

I have never encountered any book that has not held Truth. In some books I may have to look a little harder to find it than in others, but there are always Truth and Light and Beauty there for the finding.

I can hear you sighing now, and saying, "Oh please, Hedwyg, don't harp on intentionality again!" So I won't. I won't even bring it up. I won't even use the word. After all, you are the one who brought it into the conversation! :-)

But there is truth in the bible, and there is truth in the BCP, and there is truth in Superman comic books, and there is truth in trashy romances, and there is truth in the driest textbook or theological tome, and there is truth in far-out science fiction novels, and there's probably truth in erotic fiction, too. Not that I always watch out for truth - sometimes I miss it completely, and sometimes truth whacks me upside the head with the cosmic two-by-four. And that's okay - that's part of being human, a person. But I always have been, and always will be, a person of the book. It's just that there isn't any one book that I'm a person of.