B.U.N.K. Volume 2, Number 1 (1984)
John H. Acorn
Department of Entomology
University of Alberta
T6G 2E3, CANADA
Hello, friends, and how long has it been since we last chose to venture together into the uncharted regions of our common pursuit of answers to questions rarely asked by members of our modern world? Too long! That would be my answer, and so, let us waste no further time in petty introduction, and proceed to a query which I feel assured will pique all but the very dullest intellect. And what, you ask, is this inquiry? Well let me first present you with the same seed of inspiration which I myself came upon just the other day, while reading an excellent small volume (the title of which need not concern us here). Herein, on page 72, near the bottom, I found the following passage which was no doubt derived from yet another volume. The passage reads, "Jesus said...split wood: I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."
Now, what are we to make of such a statement? Jesus, the acclaimed son of God, the supreme creator of the universe itself, advising us to seek Him out under stones and in the heart of wood. Aha! you may say, He did not really mean that one would find Him in a substantial form in these places, but rather that He is a mysterious being with powers beyond our comprehension, and that if He says He is under a stone, we must be prepared to take His word for it. And yet, I respond, there is surely a difference between saying "I am there: " (i.e. in wood) and "You will find me there" (under stones). Certainly, in the former instance our powers may not be sufficient to locate Jesus, but in the latter He assures us that we will find Him there.
At this timely juncture, I think it advisable to point out a basic empirical premise which underlies this entire controversy. You, dear reader, may share with me the satisfaction of having first-hand experience with both wood splitting and stone turning. In so doing, you will as well join with me in saying that no, in no such instance have we found anything even vaguely reminescent of a supreme deity residing in such places.
Faugh! I hear the man in the back row call me out. How can we be asked to tolerate such filthy satirical word games. Sacrilege! But wait, don't be so hasty. I really do have a point. Doesn't it bother you, as people of substantial wit and intelligence, to continually put up with just that sort of word game from the mouths of the clergy? Of course it does, it bothers us all. Why can they not think clearly enough to accept the word of Scripture at its face value? I for one, could not dare to question the word of God Himself, assuming of course that there is such a Him to begin with. Let us give Him, or at least His word, the benefit of the doubt. When we are implored to look under stones for Jesus, I say (with considerable sincerity) let us look there!
Now, lest we arrive at a heated state of mind, let us break momentarily from this final test of Jesus' own word, to consider the remarks of the great biologist J.B.S. Haldane who, when asked what the study of nature reveals about the nature of the Creator, responded, "an inordinate fondness for beetles." Yes, beetles, those shiny, hard-crusted denizens of field and forest with whom we share our every waking moment of time. The lowly, insignificant, but remarkably diverse group of animals which the Lord God has seen fit to use as the most bountiful form of life on our planet.
Friend, we may now return to that spot in the garden with fresh interest, and grasp with anticipation the edge of the granite slab adorning the margin that borders the peonies. Yes, pull harder and lift the still rock from the firmament, and let the sun's rays penetrate the resulting cavity. There, what do we see? A serene man, clothed in robes, with a noble look in his eye, and unkempt hair? Alas, no. But there, under a clod of clay, a dark shape scurries toward the peony at your side. "A carabid!" you exclaim. And another! Surely this is a cruel harbinger, a hoax on us all. You stoop to look again, perhaps for a golden cross, or the vestiges at least of a chalice, or even a shred of shroud. No, there will be no ultimate vision.
Your mind reels, as does mine, and the horns of the incipient dilemma close in on us. Was Jesus lying to us, or playing a mean trick? Or were His words merely the inventions of ordinary men, leaving us stranded in a godless, materialistic universe? Wraught with confusion, we step into the house, and proceed to the bathroom sink to cleanse our fingernails of the clay from the garden. Our loved ones nod to us, and one is heard to say, "Yes, do wash up, cleanliness is next to godliness." But the phrase does not pass quickly across our consciousness. Cleanliness is next to godliness! What can this mean? Certainly one can not hope to deify oneself merely by washing! How presumptuous!
What, however, if this phrase has been changed over time, if in fact, its original meaning was something else altogether? We have been presented with some intriguing ideas the like of which we really have little experience with. Jesus assuring us that He will be found under stones. A test of this resulting in naught but a few carabids. The statement of Professor Haldane. Wait! Could the carabid have had more significance than we think? What a magnificent family of beetles, with so many genera: Carabus, Bembidion, Dyschirius, Chlaenius, and Mormolyce to name but a few. Again the mind stops short, as if caught on a barb of wire. Chlaenius! It is not cleanliness, but Chlaenius which is next to godliness! Oh happy day! Such vision, such resounding insight into the heart of reality! Such closeness to the Heart which so tenderly moves the world! Yes, we have solved our problem, and the solution will inspire us, surely, to further pursue our destined goals.