Saturday, June 07, 2008
I've had to put down the John Shelby Spong books for a while. I agree with nearly everything he says, but I find his writing a little preachy. He has a penchant for what I suppose he believes are rhetorical questions, but what really come across as saying, "Anyone who doesn't agree with me here is an idiot." Well, it comes across in a nice way, at least.
This past week there was an article in USAToday about a book that has come out which, if I understand the premise, is making fun of some of the silly stuff that Biblical scholars have come up with over time. A bunch of people were going a little nuts over the books, some upset that the Word of God was being made a joke and others trotting out their usual upset over what Christianity has done to them or the world (whichever, really, because they're all taking in 'way too peronally).
My post (among others) was that I have a faith that doesn't need defending in a country where freedom of worship is guaranteed.
Besides that, if you get upset over someone attacking your favorite book, then you don't have much faith to start with. Geez, like some of these people need to step in front of God and take the bullet? Give me a freakin' break!
I don't know exactly why these matters of faith are so important to me lately. I don't feel as though I've lost my faith in God, although I do know that I've lost my faith in people who profess to have a great and abiding faith (and who, incidently, will always be adamant that theirs is the only way to heaven).
God I don't have a problem with. People I do.
Monday, June 02, 2008
I’ve been reading more of “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism.” When I consider what I’ve read and the time period in which it was published, I am less challenged by what Spong is writing. He gives a brief history of the various texts but only from the standpoint of describing how few if any of these accounts can be described as a literal history written by only one person. I’d never really believed the Bible was literal, but I’d believed some of the accounts. Now I understand that some of the O.T. books, for example, were in fact stories for the purpose of illustrating a particular point of view. The book of Job, for instance, or of Ruth. I just started in on the section about the N.T., and I was aware of the borrowing among the authors of the synoptic Gospels, but I wasn’t aware of how awful Mark’s grammar was! It’s kind of funny, really, when you think about how people could get so worked up over something that was written on the other of, “He been coming very awful…” (sorry, that’s not from the book; rather, it’s my attempt to show poor grammar much as it was from what I’d read last night). I suppose you could say that I don’t ascribe as much value to those books any more; rather, the things I value have to do more with attitude than with historical writings.
When Ed and I were on the flight from Albuquerque to Dallas, I was seated next to a woman who spoke only Spanish. Except I didn’t know that at first. All I saw was that I was to be squeezed between Ed and an older woman who had too much stuff with her, and I was crabby. Then, as we were still on the ground and at the gate, the woman called out, “Senorita” to the passing attendant. The attendant didn’t hear her, but I figured out that the woman probably didn’t speak much English. Also, her voice was kind of weak. She had a cane with her. So, I chanced what little Spanish I knew and asked her, “¿Que quieras?” (“What do you want?”) The lady then asked if I spoke Spanish and I told her I did a little, so she rattled off something, but she was gesturing with her coat, so I asked her “¿Quieras lo …?” and I pointed upward to the overhead bin. She nodded, so I handed the coat over to Ed who put it up for her. And then the lady and I started on a bit of conversation, which was rather amusing because I’d have to nudge Ed from time to time and ask, “What’s the word for ….?” and “What does this mean….?” It turned out the lady was visiting her nephew in Albuquerque, she was on her way back to Mexico City, and she was a tree specialist. In the end, it was a pleasant flight. Plus, Ed and I helped her to get her bags and stuff down from the bin and carried out to the gate where they got her on a tram to her concourse and gate. And I explained to her that I’d told the attendant there that she didn’t speak English. (“Yo lo dicho que tu no hablas inglese”)
So, here’s where all that was leading to: I was a complete crab until I learned the lady needed help, and then I realized I had to get over my own complaints in order to be strong for her. Would I have done that if she’s spoken English? Would I have done that if she’d been able to get up for herself and take care of her stuff? Sadly, I don’t think so. So, how do I get over my own crap and be pleasant and helpful without needing someone to need me first? How do I learn to be kind and exhibit a more Christ-like attitude every day?
I suppose awareness is, as usual, the beginning.