William Shakespeare. The words attributed to that name are some of my favorite phrases. I have grown in my appreciation of the plays and sonnets, of the accurate recording of human nature, defined so expertly and beautifully in a language that seems all but lost. I have been honored to perform in and stage direct several Shakespeare plays, and I’ve got to say that simply reading the words do not do them the justice they deserve. The words are written to be heard.
There is almost no one English writer more quoted than Shakespeare, and snippets of lines from his poems and plays have made their way into our vernacular even today; “All the world’s a stage…”, “to be or not to be”, “what’s in a name?…”, “the winter of our discontent”, “such stuff as dreams are made of”, “all that glitters is not gold”, “the course of true love never did run smooth”, “there’s a method in the madness”, “a lean and hungry look”…and so much more!
Shakespeare is quotable and clever. Watching and hearing the plays reminds me that people haven’t changed all that much since the 1500’s, and the best entertainment still rests upon the masters of words. But there is something interesting about Shakespeare; there is very little evidence that he existed OR that he wrote all of those plays!
It’s true, in fact there is on-going discussion as to whether the Shakespeare of history, a shadowy figure with little or no education, was the true author. Several theories have come forward as to WHO might have written and WHY they would use Shakespeare’s name, but we take for granted that William Shakespeare wrote it all. We take it on faith, because there is very little evidence.
Speaking of faith and Shakespeare is one thing but speaking of faith and the person of Jesus Christ is another. There are several books that seek to prove the existence of the human, historical person of Jesus. The historicity of the Gospels themselves give us more personal, biological information about Jesus than we have on most other ancient historic figures. In fact, there is more evidence of Jesus’ existence than there is of Alexander the Great’s existence. But I believe that God wants us to have some room for doubt so that we can exercise our “faith muscles”.
FAITH, as we know, is a gift of God to be exercised and built up through believing. And what is faith? The best definition, I think, is in the scripture itself, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” HEBREWS 11:1. It is by faith that we flip the switch each evening and turn on the lights in our homes. It is by faith that we turn the keys in our cars and expect the engine to start. Faith is a natural thing. It is also by faith that we pray, read, worship and live, and that is good. It tells us that there are some things in this world that we CAN’T explain. There are some things in our lives that we DON’T have control of. And so, though we may not understand it, it is through faith that we live. The more we “exercise” that faith, the greater and more numerous are the daily miracles.
Believe, exercise faith…live miraculously.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
HAMLET, ACT 1, SCENE 5 (THE BARD)