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Stories

November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

This post will probably end up being a compilation of several thoughts, namely because I haven’t quite isolated all of my thoughts, consolidating them into a coherent whole.  That said, I aim to focus most of my energies on the idea of stories.  Or to use a biblical term, parables.  And finally, to expand it a little more, metaphors.

I want to start off by highlighting a few thoughts in a book that stuck out to me.  Then I’ll probably wander aimlessly for a few paragraphs and call it quits in favor of eating lunch.

From Reading the Bible Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg (which I highly recommend), speaking of metaphors through which we see scripture, the author says this:

Buddhists often speak of the teaching of Buddha as “a finger pointing to the moon…”  As the metaphor implies, one is to see (and pay attention to) that to which the finger points.  …the Bible is like a finger pointing to the moon.  Christians sometimes make the mistake of thinking that being a Christian is about believing in the finger rather than seeing the Christian life as a relationship to that to which the finger points.  …Being a Christian is not about believing in Christianity.

This train of thought is stimulating on many levels.  To put Borg’s thoughts in context, he is speaking specifically about the Bible, the lenses through which we see it and the functions we’ve assigned it.  As I begin thinking about all the relative implications of his description of scripture, I can’t help but think about some of the stories, parables and metaphors contained within scripture itself.  I’m thinking more pointedly about Jesus and his use of story.

I’ve often wondered why Jesus speaks most often using stories or parables.  We know the obvious answer; stories are a way of expressing life in terms we can understand.  I would argue that the not so obvious answer is most often the one we either choose to ignore, or fail to immerse ourselves the story to find its true meaning.  Thus, in reference to the Bible as a whole, as it is most consistently metaphor (a discussion for another time), we glaze over the stuff we don’t necessarily like and/or we often refuse to enter into the story and discover it’s true message.  Yet, since our view of scripture more closely resembles a text book with ultimate power over us, rather than the ground supporting us, we pass over so much of the rich truths contained in the metaphor as a whole (Reading the Bible Again… p30).

So then, referring back to the end of the quote above, our energies are spent believing in Christianity or believing in the finger rather than focusing our attention on that which the finger, the Bible, metaphor or story points.  Ultimately, hidden within all this language is the notion that, for too long, we’ve cast our gaze on the lens, or the figure, and we’ve sometimes in hostility, defended those things, refusing to follow the line of sight, to enter into the story and discover that which we were originally intended to understand.  In short, we must, in humility, look deeper, and consider the implications for me and the life I am living, today, in this moment.

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November 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Hopefully this doesn’t come across too negatively since I haven’t had someone to filter thoughts through for the last week or so.  Needless to say, this has become somewhat of a giant urn in which I am able to boil down and sift through things in a writing-things-out sort of way.

The question of the hour is this.  At what point along the journey (of following Christ) did we 1. center everything we do, think and say around arriving at a certain place (heaven) and 2. secure all of those reasons so tightly in a vault of complacency that to even suggest we are closed minded initiates a sort of “preemptive war” mentality that launches us into a state of, honestly, lunacy?

Now, there are countless times that, in the nearly 30 years I’ve been alive, I’ve been wrong.  And I’m not one to deny having thought and acted wrongly.  And I can’t help but wonder, what’s wrong with being wrong?  It’s difficult to admit, but I’ve been raised in a sub-culture that is never wrong, especially when it comes to issues of doctrine, justification for certain behaviors and yes, quite often, with scripture.  It is my assessment that churches are the only places in society that we tolerate and even accept a culture of mis-education and even lack of education, save (most) ministers, priests and clergy.  It’s only here that we are allowed to hold ungrounded and unsupported arguments claiming, that’s what the Bible says or doesn’t say.  End of conversation.  Now, I realize that is a broad sweeping stroke and it’s not my intention to start any debates, but ruffling feathers and peeling away the layers of ignorant comfort is something I’m interested in doing.

Now, some of us may be thinking, “Phew!  It’s a good thing I’m not closed minded.”  Here’s a clue that we may in fact have our beliefs locked so tightly away that we’ve almost completely forgotten upon what ground we were originally standing.  If we can look in the mirror and honestly tell ourselves that we do not need any other influence for Christian living, apart from scripture, we may be closed minded.  It’s awfully arrogant to think we can come to scripture able to flawlessly and correctly interpret scripture.  If you can look someone and tell them with complete conviction, if there’s no heaven, this whole Christian thing isn’t worth my time, we may be just a bit closed minded.  Are we really only in this if there something in it for me at the end?  If we can’t enter into the secular arena, have conversation (NOT debate) and allow our beliefs to be scrutinized, picked apart, mocked or simply discussed, it’s entirely possible that we are refusing to allow the very Spirit of God to penetrate to the deepest recesses of our being, and in turn, bring forth something new, fresh and most likely greater than that which we so desperately and childishly cling to.

I know this is erring on the negative side.  I also know that there are plenty of opportunities to poke holes in my logic.  And it isn’t my intention to ignite new flames of dissent and disagreement.  What I am working toward, as with the way in which I live my life, is to bring about a new life NOW.  There are so few places in scripture that even reference the notion of heaven being our ultimate purpose, or grasping with white knuckles the ignorance and denial that affords us the illusion of comfort and security.

What kind of people could we be if we opened the steel doors of our hearts?  What kind of people could we be if we allowed and even embraced the opportunities for new understandings?  What kind of people could we be if we came to know Jesus as ancient Israel understood the concept to know: as in sexual intercourse… (Borg.  Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time)  Does that change anything?