1) I decided not to go down the creative writing path at this point in life because I just do not have enough confidence. I mean, John D’Agata just has to say, “UR ESSAY IS NOT LITERATURE!” and I get crushed and have nightmares about him all summer and write zero things except for this blog.
“In the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark we read of Christ crying out in agony, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ This is a profoundly personal, painful, and existential atheism. Not an atheism that arises from some rational reflection upon an absence of divinity but rather one that wells up from the trauma of personally experiencing that absence. It is not some precursor to the atheism of people like Richard Dawkins. It is not a comfortable theoretical rejection of the divine. Christ expresses a deeply felt loss, one that has more in common with the atheism we see expressed by Friederich Nietzsche. On the cross, Christ undergoes the deepest, most radical form of divine loss, one that is experienced.”—PETER ROLLINS
It was suddenly 20 degrees (F) colder and less sunny today. Don’t know if it’s the beginning of SAD that I felt exhausted though I got a full night’s sleep and left the house once.
I experience SAD too in the Midwest and used to have a couple sunlight lamps before they stopped working! One of them would simulate sunrise and sunset :) I hear you can also get a blue light and turn it on in the morning. Good luck!!
There is a genuine lack of reflection in the world today. I have this radical theory that this deficiency is driving a great deal of intolerance, hatred, fear, and even violence.
One example is the issue of how people read the Bible. I have lived this issue. I have taught this issue. I have fought this issue.
I have often heard the phrase “Believe it all or believe none of it.” Such an approach implies that you must believe it all literally at face value, or believe it is all a lie. However, nowhere does the text suggest that scripture is to be taken literally in all accounts. While the text is understood to be inspired (or “God-breathed”) even this concept does not mean “to be taken literally.” It simply means that the text was the work of individuals who felt inspired by God to write the text. Plus, said inspiration was often written as their witness to an event or tradition, or their community’s particular witness to an event or tradition. Those writings could be narrative, myth, poetry, wisdom, instruction, or a variety of genres not known for a literal interpretation.
The Bible is a group of reflections written by those who felt they were being inspired by God. I must emphasize, nowhere in the text does it imply that God possessed a human and forced him to write their part word for word, regardless of whether or not that was your preconception of inspiration. That’s not what it means.
Then comes the rebuttal of “If it’s not all literally true, then how can we trust it?”
This is an unnecessary burden to place on the text, especially since the text never claims to be inerrant. The Law existed before the Bible. Jesus lived before the New Testament. Heck, Abraham even lived before the Law! The Bible has never been the prerequisite for faith in God.
Then comes the rebuttal of “If it’s not literally true, all of it must be a lie.”
This makes no sense. If you had 20 news anchors covering the same event, giving 20 different reports, would they all be lying if the reports were not all identical? Would one segment be lying if it provided eyewitness testimonies that conflicted with other eyewitness testimonies? If somehow some specifics were lost in the retelling of the event, does that somehow imply the event was completely fabricated? Can we no longer trust anything anyone ever has to say about the event?
Sadly, many people see reality in such a way. Many theists believe that a belief in God is synonymous with a belief in a literal understanding of all Biblical texts (with the exception of Revelations, which is conveniently used for non-literal and metaphorical references to 20th and 21st century political themes such as the Cold War, the state of Israel, China, and Russia). This is simply unnecessary.
Not only is it unnecessary; it is harmful.
If you only think literally, you are basically exposing an inherent lack of faith. If it’s “all or nothing” then you’re basically saying God can be disproved with enough critical examination of an ancient text. And if your stance is “well I still believe it, no matter what those people who devote their lives to interpreting ancient languages say” then you’re basically checking out of reality in favor of a forced-delusion that not even God would ask you to believe.
The texts have always been pushing the reader to reflect on the meanings of these countless encounters with the divine. If you treat them any differently, they will indeed come across as fraudulent, ridiculous, and quite irrelevant.
They were intended to speak to the reality of the greater reality behind the literal events.
Now, do not mistake the intention here. Such lack of reflection is rampant outside the realm of theism. Many witness an event and immediately feel compelled to interpret the reality of the event, leaving no room for opposing views. Such thinking is the birthplace of hatred, racism, alienation, sexism, and violence to name a few.
“Jesus wants to save us from making the good news about another world and not this one. Jesus wants to save us from preaching a gospel that is only about individuals and not about the systems that enslave them. Jesus wants to save us from shrinking the gospel down to a transaction about the removal of sin and not about every single particle of creation being reconciled to its maker. Jesus wants to save us from religiously sanctioned despair, the kind that doesn’t believe the world can be made better, the kind that either blatantly or subtly teaches people to just be quiet and behave and wait for something big to happen “someday.”—Rob Bell, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, pg. 179 (via acceptandembrace)
“In a moment of horrific hell-on-earth suffering, to throw around grand judgments about people burning forever in hell is offensive. This is why a lot of people in our culture want nothing to do with the Christian faith and have no interest in church.”—Rob Bell (via azspot)
Nothing should stand between yourself and God. Not imams, priests, rabbis, or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters, not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good.
Stay away from all sorts of idolatry, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.