A reader from Ohio called the office this week, wanting to talk about the Saturday, July 28th column in the Canton Repository, which was also posted to this blog. She had to hunt down my phone number, so it is clear she was motivated.
I wasn’t in the office, so she left a voicemail. She was gracious and articulate, which I appreciate. She was also critical, which I appreciate even more.
She brought up what I had written in the second paragraph, which I share here: “When he spoke of Darwinian Evolution, it was as if he were intoning the name of a god, like an ancient Jew invoking El Shaddai or a Sikh exalting Akal Purakh. And his faith gave him hope.”
The caller was Jewish, she said, and she found the reference to a “god” (lower case “g”) like El Shaddai or Akal Purakh offensive. She read the passage as if I were disparaging El Shaddai (a frequent title for God in the Old Testament) and Akal Purakh. She acknowledged (hopefully, I think) the possibility that the words did not come out as I intended.
I was appalled. I went back and reread the passage, and saw that it could be taken that way. It was certainly not what I meant. In context, I was writing about a scientist’s genuine faith in Darwinian evolutionary theory and the hope that it brought him. The comparison between a Jew or a Sikh was meant to emphasize the sincerity of the man’s faith, not disparage it, still less to disparage the Object of faith for Jews or Sikhs.
Like the ancient Jew I referenced in the column, I believe in and serve El Shaddai. My life’s ambition is to hallow his name, not dishonor it. So, thanks to the caller for helping me right a wrong and write a retraction/explanation. If you happen to read this, know that I am grateful you read the column, and appreciate the fortitude it took to call someone you don’t know for the sake of the Name you honor.