The Agora
Bible Editorials

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One way or the other

Years ago Barbara and I headed cross-country (in Texas, that can be some distance) to attend a week-long "fraternal gathering" for one day. (Why only one day? Could it be that that's as long as we felt the whole-weekers could stand us? Maybe.) (And why "fraternal gathering"? Because this particular brand of Christadelphians were conscientiously opposed to calling their get-together a "Bible school"... because -- I'm not joking here -- to call it a "Bible school" would "perpetuate the unwholesome and artificial and unseemly dichotomy between teachers and students as found in worldly seminaries of orthodoxy"!)

Now, where was I? Oh, yes.

Turns out our one-day visit (on a Wednesday) coincided with huge rainstorms upriver in the hill country (we didn't know that, of course, when we started out... but we soon found out!). In Texas they are called "gully-washers", because most of the year in the hill country you find these more-or-less dry creekbeds (like the Hebrew "wadis"), but in a sudden downpour they can turn into torrential rushing rivers (like the Assyrian Euphratean-like "flood" that overran the Holy Land in Isa 8:7!).

Anyway, by the time we arrived at the vicinity of the campgrounds, the Pedernales River that ran in front of the grounds was assuming impressive and threatening dimensions. It was usually a little rivulet (my mother talked about hopping across it from one stone to another stone as a little girl, never touching the water), but by now it was about 100 feet across, and the current was lapping at the one bridge, for miles around, that led into and out of the campgrounds.

The park rangers attached to the LBJ National Park had general jurisdiction in the immediate vicinity, although the Christadelphian campgrounds were private property, and they were out in force turning people away from the bridge crossing. "Don't go in," they were telling people, "with the river rising, we don't know when you can get out again!" So we dutifully turned around and retraced our steps, homeward bound.

But here's the really interesting part. We learned later that not every attendee at the Bible school (excuse me, fraternal gathering) reacted the same way. There were some folks who lived on the grounds for the week, in barracks; some of them chose to stay put ('So what if the river rises; we'll be here on high ground; we have food; and we'll carry on with our Bible studies') while others chose to get out while the getting was good ('Let me out of here; the flood is coming.')

Meanwhile, there were other regular attendees who slept at a motel a few miles down the road (and on the safe side of the raging river) and drove into the campgrounds every day. Some motel dwellers stayed where they were, and waited ('Let's just see how it goes, okay?'). But some others, hearing about the rising waters, made haste to pack their bags and cross the bridge while it was still operational... desperately trying to get into the "ark" of the campground before it was too late.

And so it was that, at the same time, while the rains pelted down, and the river continued to rise, and the park rangers monitored the situation, there were carloads of Christadelphians hurrying to get OUT of the campground before it was too late... passing on the bridge other carloads of Christadelphians hastening to get IN before it was too late!

Who was right? I don't know. I do know that the folks in the grounds were virtually isolated for a couple of days, but the waters subsided and they emerged no worse for wear.

So I guess the moral is: No matter how right one way seems to you, there'll always be someone who feels just as strongly that the exact opposite is the only right way.

People... whatcha gonna do with 'em?

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