I'm interested in your journey.
Are the promises to yourself?
I suppose they are- but they're also to other people.
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.
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!
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.
"Parenthood was good for God": what a lovely way of putting it!
I've never thought of it like that before, but it is a lovely way of putting it.
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?
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.
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.
I love that story about the blue light.
I just wish the evangelicals won't so cocksure about their guesses.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
Entirely so. I haven't made much of a study of Star Wars, but I'm sure it's drenched in Christian imagery.