Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Book For Me...

Here's how I read the Bible...

1. Turn to the Old Testament. If you want to be anti-establishment, you must begin here. Everyone turns to Jesus or Paul first, and I don't want to be like everyone. The gospels and Paul's epistles have been done to death. Rob Bell is cool, what with the glasses and frosted hair, he knows tons about the Old Testament, so this is where we begin. The O.T. is all about story and narrative and since that's seems to be a good thing to support these days, the O.T. it is.

2. After I get a few verses into a story, my mind stops thinking about what is actually going on and moves into a remembrance of Mrs. Wanda or Mrs. Mallet or Mrs. Debbie or Mrs. Allison , telling me this particular story for the first time. Felt boards, olive oil tastings, and nature walks, all object lessons, return to me and I think about them and not Jacob or Rebekah. At about this time I have the thought that I've already heard the story, and if I haven't after almost 33 years in church then it MUST not be important, then I move on to...

3. Jesus. Jesus is our guy, because he is the Christ, which is where "Christian" comes from. Since that's what I am, then I should focus on the person who is the root word of my faith. But the same problems arise... I've heard it all before. Everything I read is part of the greatest story ever told, but it's been told and told and told.

4. The letters, primarily of Paul. This is the good stuff. These are the quotables, full of phrases that will make you look like you know what's going on if you drop them here and there in conversation. But then Paul will say something that will totally piss me off, because many times he's about the most arrogant person I've ever read. (I think this is why many Christian young men love Paul so much.)

5. I eventually end up in the Psalms, because I can pray them. But all good things must come to an end, and for me it happens when there's a Psalm about beating the shit out of your enemies. That's not my style, so I don't roll any further.

About the biggest rock star at ETBU was Dr. Bob, a religion prof who specialized in hermeneutics. In the first class I ever had with him, he made this comment that has stuck with me, and has proven it's veracity time and again, even to the point of building in intensity as the years go... He said that every time you read the Bible, it's never just you and God and the text. There's always a million voices whispering in your ear, from Martin Luther to John Calvin to Augustine.

For me, as the years progress, it's not even just those giants. I read scripture and walking with me are all those dudes, as well as voices as disparate as Brian McLaren and John McArthur, Ann Lamott and Billy Graham. The experience of losing my best friend, my relationship with my parents, high school band, my writing, career struggles, Ed and Grey's Anatomy, and a million other factors walk with me and speak to me as I seek to pore through what really are the Wonderful Words of Life.

And so I thumb through, really no better at reading scripture now than I was in third grade Sunday School-- just with a more extensive vocabulary and less curious mind. But I still return, time and again. Because occasionally, and I think you know what I mean, every once and a while, the words on the page wriggle a little and, if you watch really carefully and let them, they'll dance. Usually it's about 1% of the time that this happens. But when it does, it's worth it.

1 comment:

amydrake10 said...

Craig-this was definitely one of those moments I was swaying in my seat, saying, "preach it, brother." Great words.