It’s been said, “the devil is in the details.” We’ve all heard the quote. Well, apparently it was originally “God is in the details.” Rather interesting twist. Nevertheless, the reason I going down this road relates to knowing the facts before making a judgment. This will flesh itself out later in a post I’m planning on the parables and the use of certain pronouns. However, before that, I thought I would share some information that was rather shocking to me.
In Glen Beck’s book Common Sense he starts section three, “The Political Weapon of Choice,” with this sentence; “The tax code that started in 1913 as fourteen pages now exceeds sixty-seven thousand pages” (p 36). That seemed rather astounding to me so I did a quick bit of research and discovered this: Back in 2006, when twelve different Republican representatives commented on the size of the Title 26 of the United States tax code, there were twelve different answers. When President Bush commented on the same thing, he added a thirteenth answer. The replies ranged from 2,500 to over two million pages in length. One thing most of them had in common however was that the tax code was definitely longer than the Bible.
Back then, according to the Government Printing Office, the part written by the IRS was over thirteen thousand pages. If you added the part written by Congress, that’s an additional 3,300+ pages. Combined, it amounts to over 16,000 pages. If, in the past three years it has mushroomed to over 67,000 pages, no wonder Secretary Geithner couldn’t get his taxes right! (Beck does not sight his source for that number.)
Now, I’m not certain how you feel about detail, but 16,000 or 67,000 pages, either one seems to me to be a bit much. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the flat tax idea. Perhaps then we could trim a couple hundred pages off the document!
Switching gears and reflecting on my current study of the Gospel of Mark, I find myself combing through the parables in Ch 4 of Mark. They offer some fascinating details. Not so much the parables themselves, for trying to ascribe detail to elements of a parable is fraught with danger. But rather examining the text that surrounds the parables is what caught my interest this time. In that context, details can be important and add to the meaning of the overall text.
I suspect that often, in our rush to get to the meat of the matter, we miss some of the nuances of the general text in Scripture. There are times when that is not overly significant other times when it is. For example, who is present, who is Jesus talking to, who is listening if he’s talking to a crowd, etc.. That information can be important. It is similar to the same principle of dealing with the twelve disciples. Yes, Jesus selected twelve specific men to “be with him” but there were many others who were disciples – follower/learners. People who believed in and I suspect followed Jesus virtually everywhere he went. People who may be nothing more than “extras” on the set. Nonetheless, people that count in the Kingdom of God. We best not dismiss them too easily. They often provide a backdrop for details pertinent to the text and its meaning. That being so, perhaps “God is in the details,” and details do matter.