Letters - 24 April 2020

From looking deep into nature to faith and practice

Look deep into nature

‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better’ (Albert Einstein). The article on the Stop Ecocide campaign (10 April) has made me reflect on how urgently Britain Yearly Meeting needs to reconsider its priorities. Does our present call for ‘Climate Justice’ really match up to the planetary crisis?

I deeply regret the loss of Yearly Meeting Gathering, which would have given us a precious week of worshipful reflection on this matter. I fear that our longstanding concern for social and economic equality, and our current focus on ‘privilege’, may have led us into an unintentionally anthropocentric view of the world and its manifold problems.

Overshadowing our world, and fuelling the present pandemic, is our grievous abuse of the natural world. Without a balanced and well-functioning global ecology, there can be no human equality, and ultimately no human future at all.

Julia Bush

Worthwhile alternative

I sympathise with Barbara Mark (10 April) when she says that she finds having a computer on a distraction from the silence, and that there are alternatives.

I was inspired by an interview with Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi (https://bit.ly/FTmagJSacks) in which he says: ‘At the real moments of pain, I listened to Schubert’s string quartet… Leaning into Schubert at that time took me through the valley of the shadow and out the other side.’

Music is indeed an alternative worth exploring.

Eva Deręgowska

In at the death

In Janet Scott’s article (10 April) on John 11:5, there is absolutely no justification for using capital letters for the word which she translates as ‘resurrection’, nor for the word ‘life’ either, for there are no capitals in the original Greek. Nor do the words ‘I AM’ appear at all and by including them in her translation suggests a reference to God, and there is none.

Translating anastasis as ‘resurrection’ puts a theological interpretation on the word which is not necessarily required in the text. Jesus was known to have a great reputation as a healer, and had experience in dealing with many different illnesses (Mark 1:32-34, Matthew 9:36-38) and he doubtless brought many sick people ‘back to life’. He had seemed confident that he understood what was wrong with Lazarus (and with some illnesses it is wrong to rush the patient to hospital). Perhaps he did not reckon with ignorant villagers deciding Lazarus was dead too early.

To the distraught Martha, Jesus is saying ‘I am one who can bring (sick people) back to life’. She must trust him, and she replies that she does and always has (pepisteuka).

So, Lazarus recovers to share a thank you supper for Jesus with his family. There is no suggestion in the story as John tells it that Lazarus was of theological importance, and no other gospel mentions him.

Elaine Miles

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