An excerpt from SOULJOURN, my new novel (Chapter 6):
I went home, said goodnight to Dad, and went to bed. The moonlight bathed my bedroom. The silence seemed to beg to be filled. I opened the bedroom window and leaned out and looked up at Cobre Mountain, faintly glowing in the white light. I felt like I could reach out and touch it, it seemed so close. The weight, the mass of the mountain overwhelmed me. There really was something holy about it.
I thought about the rose quartz and the “peep stones”. I thought about my visions. I questioned everything. Maybe Joseph Smith made it all up, lied about the “peep stones” and the Urim and Thummim and the golden plates that recorded the Book of Mormon. Maybe he was just a con artist, a flim-flam man. Maybe Ellen White’s visions and revelations were indeed the result of a rock thrown at her head. Maybe the Bible was mostly a bunch of myths made up by people who bumped their heads, too. Maybe the Bible stories lacked any historical accuracy. Maybe the visions I had were just the jumbled result of my imagination, and it was only accidental that any of it related to the stories of several religious traditions. So what? Maybe that didn’t matter.
Maybe what mattered was that my visions were meaningful to me, no matter how they happened. The visions of Ellen White were meaningful for Seventh-day Adventists, whether or not she had temporal lobe epilepsy. Whatever the real story behind it might have been, the Book of Mormon was meaningful for Mormons. Whether the imprint of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Juan Diego’s tunic was put there by God, or was just the first silk-screened Hispanic tee-shirt art in the Americas, that image of the Virgin meant a great deal to Catholic Mexicans.
Behind all the claims made by religion, many of them fantastic, I was finding another level of truth. These stories and scriptures and beliefs pointed to a reality beyond factual explanation. Maybe it didn’t matter how a rose quartz crystal could open my heart to a hurting woman who had lost her boyfriend in the desert. Maybe it was enough that my heart had been opened at all.
by Jim Burklo
Now available as an e-book at Patheos Press
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Associate Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California