Magical Thinking

Luke 24:44-53 & Acts 1:1-11 – Ascension Day – for Sunday, May 12, 2013 (or May 9, 2013 for ascension sticklers)

“…he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven…” (Luke 24:51)

I felt compelled to write about Jesus’ ascension to heaven. And, as Fox Mulder fervently intoned on the classic “X Files” television show, “I want to believe.”Fox-Mulder-fox-mulder-25366898-500-375

I wanted to believe Luke and Acts were correct when they described Jesus rising from earth to the sky and then . . . out of sight. I want to believe Ephesians 4:8-10 (“…when he ascended far above the heavens…”) and I Timothy 3:16 (“taken up in glory…”) were additional factual, Biblical and faithful confirmations of Jesus’ divine flight.

This is what I told myself on the morning I read (again) about Jesus’ ascension and decided this time I’d approach it as true.

It happened!

But I couldn’t do it. Not for a thoughtful moment. Not for a faithful second.

I think the ascension is holy who-ha. Fanciful faith. It’s splashy and flashy but without a dash of historical veracity.

While I wonder about the contradictory and confounding resurrection stories, there’s an inexplicable core belief that something transcendent happened to, with and for Jesus at Easter. I can read, and agree with, critical scholars like Bert Ehrman or Marcus Borg (who have rigorously questioned the Biblical accounts of the resurrection) and yet their views don’t shake my Easter faith. Indeed, Ehrman, Borg and other progressive scholars have strengthened my faith. Continue reading →