Not long ago I had a small epiphany at the airport. I was removing my jacket and boots, attempting to unzip my carryon and extract a laptop while checking my pockets for metal and nudging gray plastic bins toward a conveyor belt. I was trying not to hurry the person in front of me or delay the person behind, who waited grimly with shoes in one hand and an iPad in the other.
Disobedience came hard for a nice girl like me. I was taught to respect authority, which I did, despite bumper stickers urging us to question it. I did my homework, kept to the speed limit and came home on time. I rarely got in trouble, though I admired those who did, like the people who joined picket lines or burned their draft cards.
I remember a film about Doubting Thomas that I saw in Sunday school as a girl. It was one of a series that our church showed us: the Bible story was read while a sequence of tableaux ran on the screen—it was not a motion picture, really, but more like a slide show. The actors were all attractive people with earnest expressions, and their faces stayed on the screen for a long time while the text was read. Sometimes the camera would zoom in, so that we could get a really good, long look at a particularly earnest expression.
I think I would find it all a bit too much if I were to view it today. But this was a long time ago.
This week is the Second Sunday of Easter, aka "low Sunday." There
is in the life of a church a movement and momentum toward Easter Sunday, and
then inevitably a scattering, a rest after the intensity. And yet the gospel
lesson does wrestle with the implications of belief, unbelief and doubt.
Thomas used to shock me. I agreed with John Calvin that “the stupidity of Thomas was astonishing and monstrous . . . he was not only obstinate, but also proud and contemptuous in his treatment of Christ.” To be called a Doubting Thomas would have been a soul-shaking insult to my faith.