Archive for June, 2009

I get to start off with what atheists, agnostics and believers have in common—shopping.

I could go to LifeWay or one of the Christian bookstores that pepper the Bible Belt, but they confound me. Feels like I have walked into a Hallmark store in the ‘90s. The colors are all fruity, the pictures of the Christian rock musicians are just a bit off–spiky hair with blonde tips. There is a smell of trying too hard.  Every shirt, necklace, book in those places reminds me that the Christian industry is offering what the secular world has, but it comes across like a bad Xerox. Yes, that is a challenge. I don’t believe Christians want to be sterilized copies of the “world.” The market needs to be more creative and offer something original—for God’s sake. ed Hardy

shirtSo I’d rather get my Bible at a mainstream bookstore. Down here the shelves for the Christian literature equals the space allowed for Magna comics. Although Christianity promotes the message of equality and brotherhood, again the market has divided readers into specific categories. I’m tempted to buy the Aspire Bible for colored women just to pull the ol’, You mean I’m not black?” with the cashier. aspire bible

But hark, something very cool. The New Testament in a magazine form with pull-out articles written by a doctor. The theme is “divine healing.” It looks like a peppy version of “Prevention Magazine.”

girls biblePeople pick out Bibles that enforce their view of themselves, such as “God’s Princess” or the trendy tween Bible.

There is nary a one with someone with a lazy eye or a pic of David Carradine’s post-mortem photo (and aren’t those the imperfect people we all really are?).

I had a Bible called the Women’s Devotional Bible. It was pink (the only color it came in) with small articles from known Christian women sprinkled throughout. I seem to remember many “testimonies” with baking bread as a metaphor. I’m not going for one of those anymore. No more commentary. It has to stand on its own.

But, King James Version? New American Standard? New International Version? Which one is correct? What about all those other books that didn’t get canonized into what we know as the Bible? These are things I am going to try not to think of just yet.  Nor will I think of the question my friend, who went to Princeton Theological, asked me. “Are you going to read them in ‘real’ chronological order? Starting with Mark?”elec bible

Unless we all want this blog to be the length of the Bible, I am going to try and push aside some of the fringe contradictions of the New Testament and try to focus on what hinders me, and possibly others, from believing in it at face value. Amen?

As for which version, if America did indeed break away from England for religious freedom, I’m not reading the British King’s Bible. I’m going for a sacred, black New International Version (I am half-Cuban married to an Australian who was born in South Korea who I fell in love with in India…so). The black represents my dark, yet clean, slate. The black hole I’m willing to fall into. Plus, it’s sort of classy. Goes with everything.

As a child I learned if you dropped the Bible you kissed it. You always put it down on a table face up and you never put anything on top of it. I was horrified that Gideons put their Bibles in drawers at hotels. Shut up in the dark! Moses would be rolling over in his sarcophagus!

The Bible is the biggest selling book each year, every year. That’s right, 91% of Americans have one in their house. It has also supported wars (see verses on the Iraq war briefings), divided people and spawned hatred. Take the Holocaust museum killing or the abortion doctor shooting–both “justified” by Bible doctrine, not actual verses.

However, it has also brought about positive change. People released from drug addiction, hatred and loneliness. It is at the center of many organizations that are feeding the hungry and taking care of the sick. All of which can point back to verses in the Bible.

This book is powerful, yet so compact. I’m cracking it open tomorrow and I’m more than a bit melancholy. It will be like seeing the love of my life again in person.

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Genesis

Posted: June 16, 2009 in Introduction
Tags: , , , ,

rainbow shirt When my daughter was 4, she told me she saw Jesus. “He was outside the window. He had blue glowing eyes and was wearing a rainbow shirt.”

Sweet little girl. So innocent. I didn’t want to thwart her imagination, turn her into a stunted daydreamer. I couldn’t say, “Honey, that wasn’t Jesus. I know because I saw Jesus on the ceiling of a church one time. Just his face, white, like it was carved for Mt. Rushmore. He was talking to me.”

Nor did I tell her I’ve had someone try and cast demons out of me or felt the devil choke me with his hands.

And I couldn’t tell her that, though I lived all that, I don’t believe it anymore. I can’t say that because I can’t explain it to myself. Not just yet.mt. rushmore

I am reading this fascinating book by David Plotz, a writer for Slate.com. He read the Bible as a non-believing Jew and wrote a blog as he went along. Now it is compiled in a book, which not only is a great history lesson, but fascinating commentary of the mind of someone who did not grow up in the Christian church and his view of the loving God I knew since the manger cradle.
Right there in black and white, the Old Testament tells of the torment that God put on people–the plagues, the floods. He takes away free will and hardens hearts just so he can throw another plague at innocent people. The atrocities go on and on. I kept telling myself, hold on ’till you get to the New Testament David, then you’re really going to be confused. It seems like God himself got saved somewhere in the middle of the testaments. But David doesn’t read the New Testament. Why should he? He’s a JEW. This is all he gets.
So I have decided I’d like to do it myself. Not to continue what David had started, but because it is part of a personal quest. Some would call me a backslider, but I disagree. I have walked past, not back, from the faith I grew up in. From a dedicated missionary overseas to one who claims to be an agnostic now (an agnostic is one who is open to spirituality but does not take a god-like certainty to knowing the answer). I am not at a crossroads as much as I am on a road, turning back and waving at the religion I have left behind. So how do my eyes see it now? How will I see the New Testament now that I am not held to its stories and directives?
More importantly, can rereading this piece of writing touch my heart in some way? Possibly change it?