12 Jun 2016
The wisdom of the ages
There was an old Indian Chief who once commissioned a group of young men in his tribe for a major project. The Chief understood the value of documenting the lessons of the past, for the benefit of future generations in the tribe. So he set the group out to gather, compile and document and the history of their people. And after years of work, they presented to the Chief a pile of documents in 20 large binders, each as big as War and Peace. The Chief was proud of what the men had accomplished, and thanked them for their work.
“But,” he added solemnly, “there will be few who read this in its entirety before they grow old. My people are required to do much. Therefore, go and reduce this information to something more reasonable.” The group was a little disappointed, but removed the 20 document sets and set about reducing the content.
A few weeks later, they returned to the Chief with a single binder of documents as big as War and Peace. The Chief was pleased and thanked the group again, but stated it was still too big. “I want something that can be read by everyone in a reasonable amount of time.” The group left again, and a few days later, returned with only a few sheets containing the history in a much smaller binder. The Chief was very happy and thanked the group again. But as they were leaving he said, “Now wait! I need you to summarize all of this in one sentence, which I will use as the title for this book of history.”
The group just looked at each other, with a smirk, as if each knew what the other was thinking. Then the leader wrote down the sentence they would use for a title, and handed it to the chief. It said: “There ain’t no free lunch.”
A pastor in modern day America was looking for a way to help people to read the Bible, and understand the history it contained. He gathered a group of believers in his congregation to take the content of the Bible and reduce it to a smaller version. In much the same way as the Indian chief sent his group back a few times to continually reduce the volume it had, the pastor did the same.
Once the group finally had the Bible down to a size the pastor felt was appropriate, he also had them create a single sentence to summarize its history. The sentence they came up with was: Has your way really worked?