Hooray for Fiction!

I watched The Da Vinci Code recently. (I’ve always loved most of the films that Paul Bettany is in, even those of the slightly girly persuasion. I’m OK with that. I’ve got lots of issues in life. Enjoying certain not-so-manly genres of talkies—minor issue. I have bigger battles to fight. I put off watching The Da Vinci Code for a while because I thought the book was quite decent, and I didn’t want to ruin it. I read this particular book while I was staying in Paris with a few friends. The hour that I finished reading the book, I got on a metro and went to the Louvre. Tom Hanks was nowhere to be found. He was probably off on an island somewhere growing a massive beard and doing some spear fishing. He’s awesome.

I enjoyed the book, although it appeared I was in a Christian minority. Apparently some people missed the fact that it was in the fiction section and decided to boycott the book and film. Christians, I’d like you to meet the fiction section. Fiction section, likewise, these are Christians. You two should be friends. I had heard that the film was a bit sub-par, but I was hoping for the best. And I’ll admit, I think the film was decent, but I also think there could have been more character development, and also the dialogue was a little thin at times. I give it 2.5 out of 5 Longbrakes.

After the movie was over my father looked over at me and asked, “Why do you believe that the Bible is true?” Right away my head started racing for the standard answers that I’ve been taught all my life through various media: Sunday school, Christian education, sermons, apologetics classes at university and the like. All the answers felt trite and not genuine to what I believe. I didn’t want to give my father some stock answer just to satisfy his question, and my father wasn’t trying to ask me this to corner me in any way. That’s not his style.

I’ve thought about this question in the past. I’ve run into some (a lot) of people who believe that the men, who decided in numerous meetings what books would be in and what would be out of the Bible, were guided by the Holy Spirit in much the same way that the 40+ authors were inspired to write the Bible. It’s a fascinating thought for sure, but some people hold to this as doctrine, which I don’t quite understand. I will readily admit a lack of knowledge in these regards.

The Bible is an interesting compilation to me. It’s sort of like a mix-tape in some ways: numerous authors, numerous themes. I love you. I hate you. Come back. Go away. There are narratives and riddles and passion and anger and romance and battles and poetry—all components of a solid road trip mix-tape. For a long time, I thought of the Bible as a bullet-point/alliteration/7-steps to a better life sort of thing. It’s not really like that at all. A lot of the time, for me at least, it’s terribly confusing. Let’s take the book of Jonah. 1, 2, 3, go:

A man hears God. Man gets instructions from God. Man says no. Man feels that he can physically run away from God, and therefore has tremendous hustle. Man goes on boat. Big storm. Man gets thrown overboard. Big fish eats man. Unfortunate. Man lives inside big fish for three days. Odd. Man prays. Fish gets sick from all of the bad sushi it’s had that day. Fish vomits man onto the shore. Convenient for man. Fish takes Pepto Bismol. Mmmm pink healing. All better. Man obeys God. Goes to city. Tells city to repent. King tells every person and every animal in city to fast and wear sackcloth. City obeys. City gets itchy. God doesn’t destroy city. Hooray! (Kind of.) Jonah gets angry at God. Obviously. Jonah goes on to a hill. Stays angry. Jonah wants to die. Makes shelter on hill. Big plant grows. Gives shade to Jonah. Jonah happy. Worm comes. Eats plant. Jonah wants to die. Book ends with God asking a question.

I read that book the other day and thought honestly, God, this story seems a tad bit ridiculous. I’m OK with that, but I just thought I’d let You know.

I’ve read the Bible a few times straight through as well as reading different sections throughout my life. I’ve heard of many people having read through it dozens of times, which is incredible. I’m just beginning to find the surface in order to know how to scratch it. It’s the most amazing book ever compiled. People give all sorts of scientific facts for its validity. People try to explain it away as if it’s this simple thing that can be defined in sentence or in a track. I haven’t found it to be so simple.

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“People,” I told my father. “People are why I believe the Bible to be true.”

“Excellent,” he said with a big smile.

I’ve observed the teachings of Jesus, the themes of the Torah, the poetry of the Psalms, the wisdom of the Proverbs, the rants of the prophets, the letters of Paul and the words of other authors authentically lived out in the lives of people around me. My friends. My family. My local gathering. The Church. It’s everywhere. These words have transcended history. I’ve read scholars, brilliant men and women who have given detailed accounts to the validity of Scripture, but oddly it almost always, for me, comes back to people. I’ve seen these words continually change my life and change the lives of everyone around me. That is how I know it to be true. Yes, it is incredibly confusing and frustrating and brilliant all at the same time, but it is true.

I think people will always be saving points for me. It fascinates me that people, who are imperfect, are the ones that continually lead me to believe in God more and more.

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