Growing on Me, Part 2: Our (Questing) Town.
Here in Boomtown, we’re all hepped up.
Last November, Travel and Leisure magazine named us — yes, our own Nashville — as Number 8 in their definitive list of “America’s Best Cities for Hipsters.” We came in only three spots behind New York City (that includes hipster mothership Brooklyn), and we completely smoked poor old Seattle, which dropped to Number 11 from being Number 1 just last year. Ouch.
About 625,000 people live in Nashville today. We’re expecting a million newcomers in the next 25 years.
That’s a lot of artisanal cappuccino.
Still, I treasure any vestige of authentic Nashville. Like last Tuesday’s policeman.
I’d been reading The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright. It’s an engrossing study of how human societies — at least those we can somehow observe — have always included an idea of extra-material, even supernatural, forces in their understanding of the natural world and humans’ place in it. Wright argues that humans’ ways of envisioning that extra-material force, our ways of talking about gods or even God, have changed over time to keep up with our advances in science and technology. As our cultures have evolved, so has God. Wright thinks this is a good thing: good for us, good for our idea of God.
I took the book to read while getting my toenails painted. From there straight to a friend’s birthday lunch, the book stayed on my front passenger seat. It was still there when I left lunch and headed home.
Just past a stop sign, the dreaded blue lights.
The policeman was young, trim, and wearing — yes, he really was — mirrored aviator sunglasses. He approached my passenger window and politely asked, in a strong Tennessee accent, whether I agreed I’d rolled through that last stop sign.
It never does to argue. “Yes sir,” I said. “I’m so sorry.”
He leaned in and cocked his head. “What’s that book?”
I handed over the Robert Wright and described what it’s about. The officer turned it over, read the back cover, flipped through to the introduction, and read for a minute. He reached it back in.
“I’m reading a book,” he said, ” about inerrancy. Five views on inerrancy”
Now, you probably already know, “inerrancy” is an Evangelical Christian doctrine claiming that the Bible, in its current form, is accurate and totally free from error of any kind. The Bible, dictated by God, does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact, scientific or otherwise. So, really, anything the Bible says happened, happened, and in just the way the Bible says, and has always said. No room for evolution here. Really, not that hipster.
So there we were. Robert Wright, with a God we’ve fashioned ourselves to quell uncertainties about our real world. And the Evangelical Christians, with a God who’s revealed Himself and His creation in the Bible, one truth, once and for all.
We nodded at each other. “That sounds interesting,” I said. “I should learn more about it.”
“Me too,” he pointed at the Wright, back on my van seat. “And I’m not going to give you a ticket.”