One night, during my early childhood, I was rolling around on the living room floor being dramatic. Something was annoying me about grade school homework and I was trying to entertain my way out of having to learn something. Who can remember? All I see, in this dim memory, is a view of my parents, as I looked up from the pinkish rug, and yelled, “I want to be illiterate!” I think my sisters laughed and joined in. However, this chant was cut short by my buzz-kill dad, telling me to hush, because our upstairs renters were Wycliffe missionaries, whose entire lives were dedicated to teaching literacy and translating the Bible into tribal languages.
Well, FINE. I suppose its okay that I can read.
It’s hard to say what all I learned from my Portland Public education, outside of my exceptional social skills. The occasional teacher praised me for my writing abilities and sent me to some young writers workshop downtown. That’s translated in to some measure of confidence. In general, I didn’t read fast enough to keep up with Honors English classes, and I got a real “You’re selling yourself short” speech from one Sophomore Honors teacher when I choose student government over her more rigorous work load. Maybe it would have been cool to read more, and definitely it would have been nice to learn world history, but in general, I am thankful for the leadership and social skills I gained in order to self-educate as an adult upon the discovery of the world wide web.
Now that I live in Europe, surrounded by multi-lingual people who definitely know more about world history, the learning curve is massive. Certainly, I have moments where the more I know, the more I wish I lived in a small town and only obsessed over provincial matters, but something I have learned is just how important it is to be literate. Much of European history is power hungry bullies manipulating the masses with religion. What made Martin Luther’s reformation so important, was how he simply snatched the power from the catholic church by translating the Bible into the language of the people. “Here! This is what God says and what He wants you to know. There’s nothing in here about paying to get yourself and relatives out of purgatory!” Suddenly people didn’t have to go through some untrustworthy guy to know about God, they could read about Him themselves.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and people are still trying to manipulate each other by paraphrasing the Bible to suit their fancies. To this I say, “If you want to know, just read it for yourself. It’s not impossible. It’s been translated into your language!”
My friend Carly and I started a website a few years back to allow people to join in on the studies we’d shared via e-mail three years leading up to it. We don’t want to tell anyone what the Bible says, we want to help them read it for themselves. Don’t let someone else tell you what God is like! Capitalize on the fact that you can read and learn things for yourself!
If you have questions, ASK! This was one of my favorite lessons from Sesame Street. There are no bad questions! We have Google and YouTube. You don’t have to wonder about anything.
In summation, choose literacy, and join us at BibleWithUs.com if you want.