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Give a mouse a Bible.

I read Jeannette Cooperman's article "Going beyond the kiddie version of God," (NCR, March 26) first on the Internet, then again the other day after I received in the mail my copy of the paper.

In between, I gave it a fair amount of thought.

The story If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is really tantalizing. Now, if the mouse is Japanese, he will want a Japanese cookie called senbei made of rice flour--crispy, not sweet, but maybe flavored with soy sauce. Then he will want a cup of warm green tea to go with it. And since this is the cherry blossom time, he will want it served under the cherry trees. So he will need a straw mat to sit on. And next, he may want a bottle of sake, which is customary for cherry-blossom viewing. He will need a small porcelain cup from which to drink the sake. After that he may feel like singing, and will want a portable karaoke stereo cassette player.

And so it is when you start with the assumption that the Bible is not inspired, God is not almighty and Jesus is not divine.

Suppose we grant that the Bible is inspired. That doesn't mean that God dictated it word for word. Only that God insured that the basic message, "I Am With You Always" ("Yahweh"), didn't get lost, and the rest was up to the writers' ingenuity and imagination.

If God is not almighty, then there is no answer to the problem of human evil. All we can say is that we are really in trouble and it looks like it is getting worse. Or we can struggle with the problem, as the author of Job did, and conclude that because God is almighty, somehow God will find a way.

If Jesus is not divine, then maybe we should look to the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as more relevant. But let's think about the Incarnate Word. Jesus wasn't just a nicer human, as the first Christian heresy maintained. His humanity wasn't merely a mirage, as others thought. He was not two people, one divine and one human, somehow joined. God was so completely human in Jesus that even he didn't understand fully what was happening. He prayed in Gethsemane, "Father, if it is possible, take this cup from me, but your will be done." This was the only way he could show God's "I Am With You Always." Surely, he was the one most surprised at the moment of Resurrection.

Anyway, if the Bible is not inspired, etc., all we can look forward to is being remembered as a photo in a family album--and maybe not even that.

(Fr.) DENIS McGOWAN, C.P.

Ikeda City, Japan
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:McGowan, Denis
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Apr 30, 2004
Words:459
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