One of my favorite things to do is to investigate. Like you, perhaps, I’ve always tended toward the curious side of life; wanting to know how things tick, what they mean, how they are interconnected. This has led to a life of discovery, most of it happily so.
I know how car engines work, and how waffle cut fries are made in factories. I know how to knit (albeit poorly), I can fish and I believe that if pressed, I could even build a Thoreauvian hut for shelter. Where of course, I would read Walden, because why wouldn’t you?
This curiosity of mine has meant, at least early in my life, many hours in a library. School library, public library, I love them all. I have kept every library card I’ve ever gotten. It’s a funny sort of thing to collect, but they’re small and easily transportable.
Now, however, thanks in part to Hedy Lamarr, Alan Turing and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, I can sit at my picnic table in my tree lined backyard and find the world’s collective knowing at my fingertips. I will confess, though, that I do miss the old subject organized card catalogs where you could discover subjects you didn’t know you didn’t know.
Our theological theme this month is Play, and so of course the first thing that popped into my mind was Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2; The Play’s The Thing Soliloquy. This is the scene where Hamlet decides to use a play to get his father’s murderer to confess. A surreptitious way to get the truth revealed.
Often fiction is used to explore and reveal topics of universal truths. Amy Tan fictionalized her childhood as a way to not only teach others about the experience of Chinese immigrants in twentieth century America, she used it to help her understand, to assuage what she calls her “neediness to know” about her own place in this world.
Speculative fiction, like that of Octavia Butler for example, is useful to help us explore the questions of “what if….?” By using contexts that are not our own, authors can help us remove some of our own unconscious biases while we explore the world around us.
As this is my last monthly message to you, I would like to leave you with a statement of gratitude for the honor of being your minister and one more thing.
Thank you for allowing me to walk with you as these two congregations became one, as we walked through the shadow of a global pandemic, as we explored strange new, largely digital and virtual worlds.
And now my final question for you. As you consider your own life, the lives of those that matter to you, and the lives of strangers to whom we are inextricably interconnected, how can you frame the stories in a speculative manner? Do you have the courage, for it takes courage to be bold, do you have the courage to ask for the world to be more fair, more just and more kind?
Blessings to you on your journeys.