Beliefs and Convictions
Friedmans’s Fables, is a collection of 24 fables written by religious leader and family therapist, Edwin Friedman. In one of the fables, “The Power of Belief,” a man announced to his family and friends that he was dead. At once, everyone tried to convince him of the foolishness of his announcement. His body and brain were functioning. He was breathing. He could not be dead. Whenever someone challenged the notion that he was dead, he had a crafty way of putting the burden of proof upon them.
Some concluded he was crazy. Others believed he was sick and others felt he was tired. He simply responded that a dead man could not be crazy, sick, or tired. A psychiatrist and a pastor were called in but they could do nothing to change the man’s mind. Finally, a respected physician in the community was brought in. He had been the man’s family doctor since the man was a small boy. The doctor asked the man if dead people bleed. The man immediately replied, “Of course not.” Then the doctor asked if he could make a small cut in the man’s arm. This would settle the matter once and for all. If he bled, then he was alive. But if he did not bleed, then he indeed would be dead.
The man’s family and friends gathered around and the doctor made the cut in the man’s arm and blood immediately began to flow. The doctor quickly dressed the wound and turned to everyone and said, “Well, I hope this puts an end to this foolishness.” The family members and friends were relieved and they all congratulated the doctor for a job well done. Finally the man announced to the group, “I see that I was wrong. Dead men, in fact, do bleed.”
As the fable demonstrates, faith and belief are powerful things. A person’s beliefs or set of ideas can form their entire perspective of the world and such beliefs and ideas can affect those persons with whom that person is associated. But cherished beliefs are important. Such beliefs form the foundation of who we are. Friedman maintains that the moral of this fable is this: The way to cure an ostrich is to make him afraid of the dark. But this begs the question, why would one want to cure an ostrich anyway? What makes an ostrich unique is the fact that it sticks its head in the ground.
The Easter celebration is over and now is when our cherished beliefs are put to the test. It is easy to say we believe on Easter Sunday, but what about after Easter? How are we to believe in a God, whose son brings salvation to the world, when there is senseless killing in various parts of the world? How are we to believe when some people exhibit a strong commitment to God and others think they can get along in this world without him?
But according to the Gospel of John and the early church, the strength of the resurrection lies solely in our willingness to believe. A few persons had the privilege to see the risen Christ but most persons in the early church came to faith in the same way you and I come to faith. We believe without tangible evidence. We believe without the proof of mathematical equations and theorems. We believe because Christ is inside of us. We believe because God calls us to continue the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together.
Most of us believe that dead people do not bleed. But the risen Christ? Now that’s another story altogether.