Like a perfumed letter from your mother that you keep in your wallet to remind yourself of her and because reading her words renders a presence of her; or like an old phonograph album, with its scratches and pops, that you play because that recording of that particular song or symphony is your favorite and you can still hear it despite the scratches; so is the bible. It is not an infallible book dropped from heaven. And those who assert such a thing, name their churches after it, place it as a talisman on their coffee table, come close to bible-olatry.
Many of us are recovering fundamentalists or bible-olaters. Some are not recovering but repress those attempts made by parents or churches to conform them to cultural norms dipped in the ink of the bible in order to give sacred stamp to what is at best traditional viewpoints and at worse, oppressive measures to manipulate a person. Take for example the report in the Washington Blade, “D.C. Church backs ‘shaming’ of LGBT people” of August 10. Capital View Baptist of Washington DC apparently “adopted a revised church constitution last year that says, ‘shaming and shunning are acceptable Christian responses’” to LGBT folk.
Well, if you have a holy book, you have issues. And here is the overarching problem: the Holy is communicated through the lens and pens of human beings and cultures so that the person who reads a holy book must be diligent about sorting through what is culturally and historically confined and whatever Truth is being communicated. One example is the church who encourages its members in homophobia. It cannot reject pre-scientific views of human sexuality because it embraces pre-scientific ideas embedded in the text of their holy bible. Mind you, that church is using electricity, its members make dental appointments instead of calling an exorcist and so on and so forth. They cherry-pick the scriptures while munching on bacon, a food (pork) described in the bible as an abomination. Another example is slavery. Another is the role of women. Another is …
I invite you to identify examples and issues and join with me on Saturday August 25th in a walk & chat along the Wharf at 10:30 a.m. We’ll meet at the end of the Recreation Pier (I’m calling this event Pier Perspective). That pier runs perpendicular to Maine Ave. at 7th, SW. We’ll have a nice time ambling about and talking for about one hour. And I’ll pass along any insights I might have but especially encourage us to work out a method of interpretation so we can receive the Truth of the bible while not being entangled in views that dehumanize us. I hope to see you Saturday! ~PSTR