The Value of Variance

86319435F078During my 90 years I have learned the need for  repetition in order to be understood.  So I am going to say again essentially what I said in my last post, hoping to be understood.

In a lecture to New Perspectives on Faith, Dr. David Litwa asked us to own the mythological nature of stories in the Bible.  He said that without provable data, Bible stories are usually told so matter-of-factly that it sounds like they actually happened as told.  From a scientific and scholarly perspective, it seems that little happened as told in the Bible, yet, its stories give us lessons that continue to shape our way of thinking and doing.

Consider the story of Peter and his sword.  It is easy to believe that Peter took pride in his carefully crafted sword.  The fisherman kept it polished and razor sharp against a time that it might be needed. The time came, so it seemed to Peter, on the night the soldiers came to the garden to arrest Jesus.

We cannot know for sure what motivated him. Impulsive Peter used his sword to cut off the ear of Malchus, possibly an unarmed servant of the High Priest.  Peter did only what came natural to him. What comes next in the story is the lesson to be learned.  For Jesus also reacted naturally. He first instructed Peter to put his sword in its sheath.  Then with a mere touch he healed the wounded man by putting the severed ear in its place.

This story speaks powerfully to me. Executives know the joy of successful execution of well-made plans and must sometimes endure the pain of  inflicting punishment, of execution, and of severing the variant. Variance is a problem for many, yet the past indicates that the  variant when a weak minority, needs to be protected from the power of a majority.

The MCUSA owes a debt to variant individuals, congregations and conferences.  Variance has given the church educational and service opportunities, relaxation of misguided nonconformity strictures and new worship styles.  Variance should be valued; treasured, not feared; a flicker to be sheltered, not snuffed out.

May 25, 2016, Peace Candle Reflection for College Mennonite Church –  “Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:   I shall not fear anyone on earth. I shall not bear ill will toward anyone. I shall not shall not submit to injustice from anyone. I shall conquer untruth by truth.  And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering. – Mahatma Ghandi


About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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2 Responses to The Value of Variance

  1. J. R. Burkholder says:

    Thank you for this affirmation of variance, and a hearty AMEN to the Old Fool!

  2. Lowell Nissley says:

    Thank you Martin!

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