I don’t know how everything started. It must have been an incredible experience to realize, just shortly after we had washed off the primordial ooze, to recognize that we were here on this really strange, dangerous, and beautiful world, that we were all alone…and that our life would end long before we were ready for it to happen.
I imagine that we first had the notion of god as we sat around the campfire, gnawing the last vestige of flesh from the bone of the day’s prey, grunting a song or two, crudely “discussing” the latest raid on the neighboring tribe. Someone wandered aloud…crudely again, “How did this all happen? How did we get here? Where will this all lead?”
To make a long story short, someone looked up into the heavens and was stirred by what we call today “the glory of God’s handiwork”. He then noted…and it would be a “he” as women were disposable property at the time…”Well, there must be a god up there.” Someone answered with enthusiasm, “Yes, Yes, Yes.” (Later that would become a resounding “amen” in some circles.”)
Someone else then posed the question, “Well, what must we do to appease him? He is really powerful and we have done some really shitty things in our lifetime. What must we do to appease him and earn his forgiveness?”
Someone else then suggested, “Well, we should jump over the fire three times.” So in a matter of weeks there was a lot of jumping over the fire each night as the validity of this experience was proven in that the success of hunting forays increased dramatically, no savage beast killed any of the children, and none of the neighboring tribes raided the campfire and carted off the women and children.
But before too long the first theological dispute arose. Some suggested that spiritual valor was proven by jumping the highest over the camp fire. Others said, “Oh no. The greatest spiritual valor lies with those of us who can jump over the fire so low that we drag our feet through the flames.” So pretty soon the tribe was divided and eventually split, each side of the debate seeing no reason to debate something that was so clearly apparent to all reasonable human beings.
Well, this could go on and on but I must cut to the chase. I am so pleased that we have come so far that in our culture we have a Christian tradition and at this time of the year we can all offer praise and gratitude to Him, each in our own way. And none of us have to get our feet burned!