The Words of the Strait Family

Bob and Virgin Birth

Louise Strait
September 30, 1999

I went to a theological discussion class at the local Presbyterian Church, being led this week by a female theology professor. We got into the discussion of the twentieth century view of truth. She said that the modern tendency is to confuse truth and fact. One member, Bob, was going on about the real truth about global warming and Darwinism. Bob is politically very conservative and a great supporter and booster of the Washington Times. He is about 70 years old, one of the "greatest generation."

There are really two Bobs, Combative Bob and Loveable Bob. Combative Bob never saw a fight he didn't like, has a loud voice, makes a fool of himself, walks out on you in a huff, etc. Loveable Bob is someone you can call on at any time for a favor, someone who still loves you while yelling at you. Altogether, he is one of the most important members of this church.

Then I steered the discussion back to the more general concept of truth. Someone observed that an awful lot of Christians take the Bible literally (or try to). We're talking very literal here. Bob said, very loudly, that was wrong, Christians couldn't be that stupid! The professor differed with him, telling him that when she was at a large urban Christian church recently who made a parenthetical reference to the questionability of the Virgin Birth and was shunned and persecuted mightily.

Bob and I were walking out of the building together after the class. I took the opportunity and the risk to say that I also questioned the Virgin Birth. Combative Bob then blasted, "Well, then, who was his father?" Before I could answer, he went on, "It wasn't Joseph." Then I noticed that fortunately he had turned back into Loveable Bob. "I believe it was a high priest at the Temple," he said. "After all, Mary had all these relatives working there." I was about ready to say, "Oh, you mean Zechariah and Elizabeth." Then he mentioned Anna and Simeon (wrong, I think) but then someone interrupted us.

All day long I turned this over in my memory. Actually, it was quite delicious. Then it hit me how he came upon this idea. His good friend Paul (cool, methodical, his complete opposite) was telling me a long time ago that he had gone to the Times Foundation dinner where Father first gave that speech about Mary and Zechariah with In Jin translating. I was disappointed in his report because he couldn't relate to it, had a hard time with the translation, I think. Anyway, he is retired from being the publications director of the National Council of Churches, so understandably I had high hopes, which were dashed. But on Sunday I remembered that he went to that dinner -- as the guest of loyal Times supporter, Bob.

At first I was slightly disappointed that Bob hadn't come up with this idea on his own. But then I remembered squirming uncomfortably through that particular speech, given so many times around here. It is absolutely amazing that someone listening to it incorporated this idea, albeit imperfectly, into his beliefs. Bob had been so confident in presenting this to me! You just never know! He probably has Tamar figured out too, but we've worked over that story a lot in this theology class.

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