?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Eroticdreambattle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Tony Grist

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Soggy Cardboard [May. 4th, 2009|08:45 am]
Tony Grist

So I spent most of yesterday doing religion. First we had our own Sunday morning service in our own home church. Then- for reasons I have to be vague about- we whizzed down to the south of the city for a praise service in Urdu- which was fun. Then we went into a meeting with a couple of evangelical clergymen. Now maybe I began the day feeling a bit tired and grumpy- I believe I did- and that may have skewed my perceptions- but, really I don't think that wholly explains why- by the end of it- I was feeling like I'd had a tabernacle of soggy cardboard erected round me and I needed to punch my way out into the clean air. In the evening Ailz and I found ourselves discussing the God of the Torah- and what a frightful old ogre he is- and how if the story of his relationship with his chosen people were acknowledged to be the fairy story it so clearly is he'd be the villain of it.

It feels cheap to be taking shots at the Torah-  too easy- like punching out wet cardboard- but then I remember how the last US government ran its foreign policy on the basis of the Bible's bronze and iron age predictions- and it seems like something that- however distasteful- really needs to be done.

I go to church because it's a place where there are windows open onto other realities. I like to feel the wind that blows through them. We heard a sermon yesterday on Jacob and the Angel- which is just such an open window. But then the guy has to insist on the story being historically true -and how it represents an undercover appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament- and the effect is as if he'd filled up the window with damp cardboard. 

I like these people. I don't like how they think. It tries my patience. If I didn't have promises to keep I'd walk away.
 

linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: aellia
2009-05-04 11:17 am (UTC)
I'm interested in your journey.
Are the promises to yourself?
x
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-04 11:59 am (UTC)
I suppose they are- but they're also to other people.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-05-04 12:28 pm (UTC)
As I continue to study the Bible, I am more and more convinced that parenthood was good for God. That Old Testament God was more villain than benefactor. After the coming of Jesus, God is presented as loving, caring, much gentler than the older version.
Like others of your friends, I too watch your journey with great interest.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-05-04 12:30 pm (UTC)
By the way, I like praise services much better than the standard services -- as you put it,praise services are fun. Lots of singing, hand clapping, more spontaneity, less preaching. Very nice indeed!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-04 12:59 pm (UTC)
We were the only non-Asian people in the small congregation. They had a portable organ and a set of those drums that (I think) are called tabla. Afterwards we all ate curry.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-04 12:57 pm (UTC)
"Parenthood was good for God": what a lovely way of putting it!



(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2009-05-04 02:34 pm (UTC)
I've never thought of it like that before, but it is a lovely way of putting it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: michaleen
2009-05-04 12:57 pm (UTC)
The entire fundamentalist Christian movement in the US focuses on, and heartily applauds, that "frightful old ogre" of the Old Testament. Insofar as they don't seem above taking cheap shots at anything meeting with their displeasure, I think they and their boogeyman deity are fair game.

Suppose I must have picked it up in my Methodist childhood, but wasn't the Christ supposed to have come, in part, to change the dynamic of our relationship to the Divine, to replace primitive fear-based religion with a message of love and brotherhood? Did these latter-day protestants fail to get the memo or something?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-04 01:04 pm (UTC)
There's still plenty of fear in the New Testament- lots of stuff about a final judgement and everlasting torment. Conversely that's a fair bit of love and forgiveness in the Old Testament. In both halves of the Bible "good God" and "bad God" jostle for our attention.



(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2009-05-04 02:31 pm (UTC)
Our sermon yesterday was by our young priest assistant (who looks like an unworldly monk and is given to odd literary statements, as in his welcome yesterday, when he said: "It is a good morning here at Ascension, where outside there is rain and verdant spring"), and he told us he had once been very ill in the hospital and so afraid he was dying that he was shaking, when at the foot of his bed he saw a "blue light" and heard a voice saying "Don't be afraid. I am with you."

(I would have thought the blue light meant that not only was I ill but about to be abducted by an alien! Which may explain why my guardian angel hasn't shown up.)

He said he had told few people about his encounter, which stopped his fear (he got well later), until after a church conference at which he was told by a priest his own "guardian angel" story.

--

I go to church because it's a place where there are windows open onto other realities. I like to feel the wind that blows through them.

That's a beautiful way to put it, Tony. The people's thinking is just a guess. They too go to church to feel the wind. That's all any of us can do here.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-04 06:28 pm (UTC)
I love that story about the blue light.

I just wish the evangelicals won't so cocksure about their guesses.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mamarose
2009-05-04 03:33 pm (UTC)
I too struggle with the notion of the stories being historically accurate. It's one of the main divisions in Judaism between the orthodox and the not. I love the stories of the Torah (without trying to lace Jesus into them), they are good and meaningful stories. Why isn't that enough? Fiction has value.

Right now it is fashionable to be atheistic, and understandably so. Faith is a fickle thing and with the insistence of defining faith as being literal earthly history, I believe many people are turned off and stop tuning in at all. I believe that faith is inspired. The push for these stories to be factual seems to me to be missing the point. Perhaps they were, but does it really matter?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-04 06:32 pm (UTC)
To me it's perfectly obvious that the stories in the Torah are myth and legend. They're like the stories about King Arthur or Robin Hood or the Greek heroes. This isn't to deny their truth.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sovay
2009-05-04 04:46 pm (UTC)
But then the guy has to insist on the story being historically true -and how it represents an undercover appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament- and the effect is as if he'd filled up the window with damp cardboard.

Er.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-04 06:33 pm (UTC)
Evangelicals stomp all over the magic and mystery of their faith. The don't (I suppose there must be exceptions) have any poetry in them.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: moocowrich
2009-05-05 02:02 am (UTC)
I like your thoughts about religion. I'm an atheist to the core, but I appreciate the beauty (poetry, as you called it in a comment) that you seem to see in the whole business.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-05 08:07 am (UTC)
Thanks. This stuff is my addiction. I'd like to give it up, but I don't seem able to.

Edited at 2009-05-05 08:07 am (UTC)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: silveredmane
2009-05-05 02:57 am (UTC)
I like Wendell Berry's claim that while non-fiction can be about anything at all, fiction is about relationships.

If he's right, it seems that it would be more appropriate for religious texts to be fiction as [it's my understanding that] their primary function is to teach us about relationships.

(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-05 08:13 am (UTC)
I think you're right. Fiction, which has licence to make things up, can go a lot deeper than history, which is tied to the- often random- facts of what actually occured.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: algabal
2009-05-05 07:45 am (UTC)
Jesus is nowhere in the Old Testament. Aren't Christian traditionalists such annoying fuddy-duddies?

You could make a better claim of finding him in Star Wars.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-05 08:14 am (UTC)
Entirely so. I haven't made much of a study of Star Wars, but I'm sure it's drenched in Christian imagery.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-05-05 02:23 pm (UTC)
It is.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)