(Continued from yesterday.)
Bowden had an uncanny ability for showing up at the right time. I theorized he might even be sitting at a hidden location spying on us and as soon as Dad was without work to do on the farm, here came Bowden.
It was fall, crisp, colorful and the fields bare.
Dad had just turned a bushel of apples into cider in the press on the back porch. Dad was explaining to me the virtues and health benefits of apple cider and apple cider vinegar. There was a knock at the back porch door. It was Bowden and Dad waved him inside.
“Have a seat on the bench, Dad said to Bowden. “Get a couple of glasses, will ya son?” Dad told me.
“Ya like cider? Dad said to Bowden. “Makes no difference you’re going to drink some anyway.”
Dad strained the cider through cheesecloth and handed a glass to Bowden.
Bowden looked down his nose at it.
“It ain’t hard, preacher,” Dad said. “Ya drink this all day long and the best it will get you is a bad case of the runs.”
“What’s been on you mind lately?” Bowden asked.
“Dad nodded for me to clear out. “Apple cider,” Dad replied to Bowden.
I eased out the front door and stooped low walking around to the back door where I could hear Dad and Bowden wrangle theology.
“I’m concerned,” Bowden said. “Where will your soul spend eternity?”
“I have to say, Bowen,” Dad said. “Your concern for me, though misplaced, is admirable. But my soul will cease to exist when I die.”
“Oh dear God,” Bowden said. I heard him gulp a swig of cider. “We’re speaking of your soul, dear man.”
“Words, Bowden,” Dad said. “You above most know words. You regal in words. You know the power and persuasion of words. Words are as important to a theologian as they are a lawyer. A misplaced word or added word means everything.”
“I agree,” Bowden said.
“The Bible is the ‘word’ of God, right?” Dad said.
“That’s an amen from the bench,” Bowden said.
Dad chuckled. “You got a Baptist background?”
“My grandmother on my mother’s side was Pentecostal,” Bowden said.
“Words,” Dad said. “Was Adam a soul or did he become a soul upon given the breath of life at Genesis 2:7?”
Bowden mumbled to himself reciting a scripture. “The later is true.”
“So for a lack of a better term,” Dad said. “Adam attained soulhood upon given the breath of live. Breath produced a soul. Soul is a result of breath. Before that he was…”
“A dead soul,” Bowden said. “No that’s not right. You got to live before you can die.”
“So one becomes a soul upon given life, right” Dad said.
“It’s another concept the church has struggled with,” Bowden said.
“The church seems to struggle often with the things it is most dogmatic about,” Dad said. “Don’t you find that strange as well as disturbing.”
“The struggle is to…”
Dad interrupted. “The struggle is to find evidence to something that never has existed; to pull terms from the Greeks and mystics and try to find evidence of them.
The Greeks were so good at that.”
“Well,” Bowden acquiesced, “in my studies I found great parallels between Greek mythology and philosophy and that of Christianity.”
“Bowden,” Dad said speaking just above whisper and with all seriousness, “the Greeks hijacked Judaism and then their thought became pleasing and eventually absorbed by Christian theologians and philosophers.”
Bowden breathed deep through is nostrils.
“’The soul that sineth will die,’” Dad said. “Ezekiel 18:4; that predated Socrates and Plato by hundreds of years. When the church teaches a soul that exists beyond death it teaches Socrates and Plato not Moses, Ezekiel, or Jesus.”