We're all in the waiting business. How we wait on God makes all the difference.
I've been reading a gift somebody got for me. It's a fascinating book called Medieval Views of the Cosmos. When I say it's fascinating, I mean mostly it's fascinating to me. For example, it points out that in the Middle Ages all educated people knew the world was round. Even Plato knew way back in ancient days the earth was spherical, and in the 1200s a friar named Roger Bacon talked about the curvature of the earth.
So why do we think they believed in a flat world in the Middle Ages? Well it turns out in the 1820s, an American writer, Washington Irving, wrote a biography of Christopher Columbus, and he made up this scene where there's a trial, and church leaders accuse Christopher Columbus of heresy for saying the world was round. Actually there never was such a trial. The church never taught the earth was flat, but the scene sounded so dramatic, artists started painting pictures of it, and eventually the idea just spread.
We tend to believe it easily because it flatters the egos to think we're way smarter than people who lived in ancient times, but that actually is not so. In fact, maps from the Middle Ages served quite a different purpose than maps would later on. The writers of the book talk about how travelers generally did not make use of maps in the Middle Ages, but they used the advice of local guides. Instead, medieval maps were used by scholars to interpret the Bible or understand the works of history. In other words, in those days when they used maps, they weren't trying so much to show the world as trying to show a worldview.
I love the first sentence of this book. "Once upon a time, the world had meaning." Now the truth is, maps are never wholly neutral. Like, we're used to maps where the United States ...
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John Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.