So I want to talk about the Bible. I’m going to be totally honest, this is a topic I’ve really avoided in a lot of ways over the last few years because it brings up things. I don’t believe it anymore but it doesn’t matter. Certain things just get so deep that you can’t get them out and not only can you not get them out but it’s hard to see outside of them.
I was never very good with the Bible. As an evangelical I, of course, felt my appropriate levels of pressure to read it regularly and a certain amount of guilt or shame about how rarely I did. As a child I dutifully memorized verses for trinkets and awards. As a teenager and an adult I would go through phases, weeks or occasionally even a month or two, where I might read it every day. Sometimes I would try to see it in a new light. That’s how God speaks, after all. You should be listening. But the truth is that the book itself was never what it was supposed to be to me. It was, like much of the rest of my faith, inevitable but not beloved like it was supposed to be. But the stories held weight. They were a framework. I was taught that the Bible was absolutely true and absolutely factual. Our salvation somehow depended on these things. Today I hear Bible stories told in other settings and I find myself often horrified, both by the story and that I was not horrified before.
My teacher in my American Indian Studies class was talking about creation myths last week. He was talking about how important they are because they teach you about who you are. I thought about that for a really long time after I got out of class. I wondered what my life would have been like if I had been allowed to look at the Bible as stories that teach us about who we are. We were told that the Bible taught us about who God is, but we were not really allowed to follow that through to what I now consider all the logical conclusions. More on that later. I wondered what it would have been like if I were permitted and encouraged to believe that the Bible was True but that it was not necessarily a Fact. Or that, at the very least, it did not have to be a fact. What would it have meant to grow up understanding the difference between something that is True and something that is a fact? How would that have changed my understanding of myself or of God? How would that have opened my ability to ask questions?
Essentially my idea with this series is that it’s better late then never. I’m going to start from the beginning. I’m not going to go verse by verse, I will certainly be skipping many sections. I’ll be using the NIV translation, because that is primarily what I grew up with and so it seems logical to go off of that one. However, the point is not to dissect each verse but to go story by story and try to look honestly at them from where I am now. I no longer believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. I think that, at best, it is a collection of myths and stories put together by ancient people trying desperately to understand the world around them. I think we do that, all of us, every day. We all have our own ways of creating stories and finding meaning. But the stories we tell still say something about us. And growing up with these stories as my daily fare told me many things about myself.
So the basic format at this point, as always reserving the right to change if I feel the need, is that I’m going to introduce the story, I’m going to talk about my history with it and any feelings or specific associations I remember having with it growing up. I will then put up the story and start talking about what my reaction is to it now. Some of them may take a few weeks, I don’t know. We’ll see how much I want to talk about. I want to see what I feel like this story told me about myself, told me about God, told me about the world around me. I want to talk about what upsets me about this story now or, if I find something touching or kind (and that does happen from time to time although… it’s rare in Old Testament times in particular) then I will talk about that. Basically I want an opportunity to put myself outside of this. I want a chance to look at things new, to readjust, to take the stories I had no choice in taking in and have a decision in how I process them now.
It is probably not a perfect plan but it’s what I’ve got and I want to see what happens. First entry will hopefully be tomorrow (I am posting this partly to push myself to post the first entry tomorrow) and with any luck it’ll be a Wednesday series for a while.
Also, any feedback on this series (or anything else I do obviously, but this one in particular in some ways) would be very cool. I feel like how people hear stories and what those stories mean to them are one of the most fascinating things and I am always fascinated by the variety. So, thoughts and comments welcome.
See you tomorrow.