Thermopylae and The Doubting Thomases

The Public Library is a great place to grab a few good DVDs. On my family’s most recent visit to the Rockwall Library, I found a History Channel special called Last Stand of the 300, which details the events surrounding the Spartan stand at Thermopylae during the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BCE.

A particular fact about these events struck me. The Greek city-states (not a unified, singular “Greece” yet) stayed away from each other for the most part. Each city-state looked after its own interests, including religious differences, and did not typically become embroiled in the affairs of others. The second Persian invasion changed that, at least for this battle. Several city-states banded together to prevent overall domination by the Persians—a force with tremendous momentum and evil intent.

Before I even finished the documentary, I texted Zach to point out the analogy between the Greek city-states and us—The Doubting Thomases. Zach and I agree on very, very little. Our presuppositions—despite a somewhat-shared realism—could not be further apart: he’s an atheist and I’m a theist. Such a difference has massive implications socially, politically, hermeneutically, and so on. The fact that we have this difference and continue to be friends is not shocking or even surprising because we’re both fairly nice people and easy to get along with. We send Christmas cards to each other. We sometimes get books for each other when we see books the other would like (Including an awesome set Zach got for me last year, which had autographs from three of my heroes: Robert M. Price, Bart Ehrman, and Daniel Wallace!) We’ve sent gifts to each other’s baby boy and occasionally even seek wisdom from one another about difficult personal matters. In short: we’re friends. Good friends (don’t correct me on that, Zach, or I’ll cry.)

What makes this partnership so fascinating is that, like the Greek city-states, we don’t share universal interests. We have our own agendas and our own views to refine and develop. We even have “battles” between us that have been known to stretch out into 65 comments on my Facebook wall. He has frustrated me a few times and I’m certain I’ve returned the favor more times than that.

What unites us is a shared sense of responsibility to use the gifts and resources we’ve been (yeah, I’ll say it) blessed with to make a difference and push back against “evil”. We both hate social injustice. We both want the world to be better for our sons. We are both disgusted by hatred, intolerance, neglect, and abuse caused by those using religion as a justification for their subconscious or conscious lust for power.

Zach has known some good Christian and otherwise religious people. I have known some good atheists and otherwise non-Christian or non-religious people. There are truths we can all agree on and there are evils we can all take up arms to battle against. We don’t have to erase what makes us unique; but we need to set aside what prevents us from growing stronger so that we can truly push back the darkness that threatens to destroy us all.

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