*E Pluribus Unum: Out of many, One


Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow a crowd to do evil;

Exodus 23: 1-2

One of the very first things that happened when I surrendered to God was that I stopped listening to people. I had quit my job; the money was running out, I was facing my first eviction but I didn’t want another job. Who would believe in a miracle with me?

When I think back to this time, I often think about Martin Luther, a monk and theologian who in the 16th century experienced a spiritual crisis brought on by the total corruption of the Catholic Church. Simony was rampant, a practice in which the Church “sold” repentance, and the papacy was bloated with land and money. In times like this when it seemed that society had gone too far, how could you trust the majority?

When I’d gone to people who claimed to believe in God, they never mentioned God but worldly advice. And I grew more agitated because I already knew what they would say–the way they’d been saying it my whole life, and I was afraid because I didn’t want to be alone with what I knew I had to do even though I’d been all my life.

And, well, you know the rest of the story. The 12 spies that God sent to scout Canaan returned with a bad report that spread fear through the Israelites and caused them to rebel against God’s plan for them. All but 2 of the spies. Caleb and Joshua out of the congregation implored that their faith be in the protection of God and not in the fear of the Canaanites. But the majority believed the false report over God and refused to enter the Promised Land; the Israelites called for a return to Egypt and the appointment of their own leader; and the stoning of Caleb and Joshua. Their anger punished them with 40 years of wandering in the wilderness because they could not overcome their fear, while Caleb alone inherited the Promised Land.

With the power of all that is Right in you, the world will fall around you, as the Catholic Church and the unity of medieval Christendom had begun collapsing–collapsed when Martin Luther posted his critiques or what came to be known as the 95 Theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg Germany in 1517.

I laughed with them about it all on the telephone the other day, recounting the afraid advice they’d given me way back, it seems, so long ago. They were stressed out, they said, always stressed–something always wrong. And I knew that to be me, still stuck in the world, wandering in the wilderness had I of listened.


Acts 5:29

But Peter and the *other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.”

*e pluribus unum is the motto of the United States