Irreversible Transformation: Choose Your Adventure

Column by Rev. Lauren Van Ham on 16 November 2023 0 Comments

We who get to be alive right now are living in the sixth great age of extinctions. We passed planetary overshoot a while ago and the ecological and societal effects are irreversible. This is the doom some speak of.

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Which of the Gospels is your favorite and why? 


Dear RoseAnn,

Let’s start with the process of elimination. I’m not a big fan of John. Besides the dating, which puts it further away from the time of Jesus than any of the other Gospels, it has a very high Christology that I just don’t find in the parallel Gospels. So, take it off the list of contenders for my favorite.

Matthew is a fairly legalistic, judgement oriented Gospel. When you look at the other teachings of Jesus, I find it difficult to believe there was ever this much emphasis on the “final judgement” and the “coming of Christ.” So, for me, it’s out of the favorite category as well.

We are down to Luke and Mark. This is going to be a tough one for me.

Luke is a great storyteller. I was actually part of a storytelling team all the way back in 5th grade. I have a special place in my heart for storytellers. Luke also tells us a lot more about the women in the story, which I find helpful. Ultimately, though, Luke seems to favor storytelling over historical acuity. I’d say it’s good for some things, not so much for others.

That brings us to Mark. Mark has its own issues, but considering that there are no other Gospels left, let me tell you what I like about it.

It’s probably the earliest dated Gospel which carries a lot of weight with me.

There’s no list of “begats” in it. I’ve always found that the list of genealogy comes off as someone trying too hard to establish importance.

There’s also no birth narrative. Now that may seem like a bad thing, but with the way some Christians make the birth more important than the teachings of Jesus, I count it as a good thing.

In its original form, it ends before any of the after-resurrection appearances. Yep, no Jesus walking around after death. Again, set in our modern context, that works for me.

So, in the end, I chose my namesake: Mark. That’s my favorite Gospel.

~ Rev. Dr. Mark Sandlin




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