This Makes No Sense to Me

There is this bizarre phenomena that I run into now and again where someone will respond to criticism of modern racism by pointing out that in the early to mid 20th century, the Democratic party, particularly in the south, was unabashedly racist and for a while even aligned itself with the Klan. Like I’ll bring up the fact that Trump was enthusiastically supported by white … Continue reading This Makes No Sense to Me

Let’s Be Real About What We’re Looking At Here

I didn’t mean to make this an all Trump Monday, but I suppose it’s appropriate given the electoral college vote this morning. Which I’ll probably have something more to say about tomorrow. But now that that’s done, we have a very serious issue to grapple with that I think we’d be fools not to take seriously. It boils down to three straight facts that probably … Continue reading Let’s Be Real About What We’re Looking At Here

Christian Tattoo ~ 700 AD Edition

I thought this was cool. A woman whose mummified remains were found in Sudan a few years back, had a Christian symbol tattooed on her inner thigh. The symbol is a picture made from the letters of the name Michael, presumably for the arch angel. The symbol has been found in churches and other decorations made by ancient Christians in the area. This tattoo was … Continue reading Christian Tattoo ~ 700 AD Edition

Consciousness and Genesis 1

I want to write about my personal theory on the story of creation told in Genesis 1 today, but I can’t think of any interesting or clever way to start the post. So I thought maybe I could find a good joke about creation to use. After looking for awhile I found this little gem:

A minister, a priest and a rabbi went for a hike one day. It was very hot.
They were sweating and exhausted when they came upon a small lake.
Since it was fairly secluded, they took off all their clothes and
jumped in the water.

Feeling refreshed, the trio decided to pick a few berries while enjoying
their “freedom.” As they were crossing an open area, who should come
along but a group of ladies from town. Unable to get to their clothes in
time, the minister and the priest covered their privates and the rabbi
covered his face while they ran for cover.

After the ladies had left and the men got their clothes back on, the
minister and the priest asked the rabbi why he covered his face rather
than his privates. The rabbi replied, “I don’t know about you, but in
MY congregation, it’s my face they would recognize.”

Of course that joke has nothing to do with creation, but it’s funny so in my infinite wisdom, I’ve decided that’s what counts. Now . . . moving on to the story of creation.

One of the oddities of the story of creation in Genesis 1 is that the order in which things were created makes no sense. First there’s day and night and then later, after there was land and plants, but before there were animals, the sun, moon and stars get made. Water was apparently pre-existing and had to be separated from air to make the sky. So on and so forth.

For creationists, none of this matters because somehow that’s just how God did it. For people who run a wee bit deeper and wider than that, both logic and science say that it couldn’t have happened like that. Those who reject religion say the creation story is just something people made up to explain the world and really means nothing. Christians who don’t blasphemously reject the evidence of God’s own creation in favor of man’s understanding of scripture figure the point of the story is that God made everything, he made it with purpose and it is good.

I personally have my own pet theory about why the order of creation is all jumbled up in Genesis 1. Continue reading “Consciousness and Genesis 1”

Is Reading Scriptures Literally, Literally Wrong?*

I came across a blog post by Father Stephen, an Orthodox priest about the problems with taking scriptures literally. On this blog, I have tended to focus on how insisting on taking scriptures literally leaves us vulnerable to being unable or unwilling to deal with reality or to losing our faith altogether when our literal understanding comes into conflict with reality. Father Stephen points out another, probably more important problem with a literal approach to scriptures: it engenders a shallow reading of scripture. From his post:

The Scriptures, particularly those of the Old Testament, are frequently misread (from a classical Christian point of view) in a literal manner, on the simple evidence that the New Testament does not read the Old Testament in such a manner. Rather, as is clearly taught by Christ Himself, the Old Testament is “re-read” from a Christological point-of-view. Thus Jonah-in-the-belly-of-the-whale is read by the Church as Christ in Hades. The first Adam in the Garden is but a shadow and antitype of the Second Adam – the One who truly fulfills existence in the “image and likeness” of God. The Passover and the deliverance from Egypt are read as icons of the true Passover, Christ’s Pascha and the deliverance of all creation from its bondage to death and decay. Such a list could be lengthened until the whole of the Old Testament is retold in meanings that reveal Christ, or rather are revealed by Christ in His coming. . .

A “literal” reading of the Old Testament would never yield such a treasure. Instead, it becomes flattened, and rewoven into an historical rendering of Christ’s story in which creative inventions such as “Dispensationalism” are required in order to make all the pieces fit into a single, literal narrative. Such a rendering has created as well a cardboard target for modern historical-critical studies, which delights itself only in poking holes in absurdities created by such a flattened reading.”

Now, I do know that it is possible to see the deeper Christological meaning of the scripture stories while also maintaining a belief that these things are literally historical events, recorded in scriptures. And certainly there are certain things which we need to be literally true. For example, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

However, I think that Father Stephen is right that by seeing much of scripture as a record of events which can be shaped into a literal narrative, there is a strong tendency to “flatten” scriptures into nothing more than an account of historical events. Continue reading “Is Reading Scriptures Literally, Literally Wrong?*”

An Argument In Support of an Angry God

One of the modern criticisms of Christianity is that God seems different in the Old Testament than in the New.  In the Old Testament, God is wrathful, commits genocide, is angry, etc, etc.  Then in the New Testament he shows up and says, “love!”  I have long held that it was the people who changed, not God.  Maybe people were more civilized by the time … Continue reading An Argument In Support of an Angry God

Is Reading Scriptures Literally, Literally Wrong?

I came across a blog post today by Father Stephen, an Orthodox priest about the problems with taking scriptures literally. On this blog, I have tended to focus on how insisting on taking scriptures literally leaves us vulnerable to being unable or unwilling to deal with reality or to losing our faith altogether when our literal understanding comes into conflict with reality. Father Stephen points out another, probably more important problem with a literal approach to scriptures: it engenders a shallow reading of scripture. From his post:

The Scriptures, particularly those of the Old Testament, are frequently misread (from a classical Christian point of view) in a literal manner, on the simple evidence that the New Testament does not read the Old Testament in such a manner. Rather, as is clearly taught by Christ Himself, the Old Testament is “re-read” from a Christological point-of-view. Thus Jonah-in-the-belly-of-the-whale is read by the Church as Christ in Hades. The first Adam in the Garden is but a shadow and antitype of the Second Adam – the One who truly fulfills existence in the “image and likeness” of God. The Passover and the deliverance from Egypt are read as icons of the true Passover, Christ’s Pascha and the deliverance of all creation from its bondage to death and decay. Such a list could be lengthened until the whole of the Old Testament is retold in meanings that reveal Christ, or rather are revealed by Christ in His coming. . .

A “literal” reading of the Old Testament would never yield such a treasure. Instead, it becomes flattened, and rewoven into an historical rendering of Christ’s story in which creative inventions such as “Dispensationalism” are required in order to make all the pieces fit into a single, literal narrative. Such a rendering has created as well a cardboard target for modern historical-critical studies, which delights itself only in poking holes in absurdities created by such a flattened reading.”

Now, I do know that it is possible to see the deeper Christological meaning of the scripture stories while also maintaining a belief that these things are literally historical events, recorded in scriptures. And certainly there are certain things which we need to be literally true. For example, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Continue reading “Is Reading Scriptures Literally, Literally Wrong?”