There’s a Whole New World out there – if you’re ready to expand your mind…
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Welcome again to DORScribe, a blog about reading the Bible to expand your mind…
…and your horizons!
Here’s an Introduction. To cut to the chase, the theme here is exploring the mystical side of Bible reading. In other words, it’s about exploring your full potential in life.
In further words, a lot of Christians tend to focus on what they can’t do. This blog focuses on what you can do. What you can accomplish by reading the Bible on a daily basis. (For more on that see What’s a DOR? Or check THE BASICS, for “What’s in it for me?”)
On the other hand, you might think of reading and learning about the Bible as something like taking a class in self-defense:
Every martial art – judo, kendo, aikido, etc. – has its own forms, actions, procedure. Beginners must learn the kata and assimilate and use them. Later, they begin to create out of them, in the way specific to each art.
To expand the metaphor: A person who reads the Bible too strictly finds only a few limited kata. He learns the words, but not the tune. Or as the Bible says, a too-literal Christian never learns to “sing to the Lord a new song.” See On singing a NEW song to God:
How can we do greater works than Jesus if we interpret the Bible in a cramped, narrow, strict and/or limiting manner? For that matter, why does the Bible so often tell us to “sing to the Lord a new song?” [As in Isaiah 42:10 and Psalms 96:1, 98:1, and 144:9.]
Put another way, a too-literal Christian learns the words of the Bible, but never learns to “create out of them.” And speaking of self-defense: The Bible can help you “defend” against slick-haired televangelists who seem to use the Bible for their own gain. (See 2d Corinthians 2:17: “For we are not like so many others, hucksters who peddle the word of God for profit…”)
On a related note, the Book of Common Prayer says that all Christians are “members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son.” That’s based on 2d Corinthians 3:6, where Paul said “the letter of the law kills, while the Spirit of the law gives life.” (See also John 4:24, where Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”)
Unfortunately, it’s much easier to focus on the corporate or “business” side of the local church.
Of course every church needs a corporate side. (The business side, that tends to mundane things like keeping the lights on and “outreach” to keep people coming in the door.)
But each church should also have its mystical side.
The problem? It’s much easier to focus on the corporate side. (Rather than put in the persistent, ongoing work to achieve a “divine union.”) So working on the corporate side is necessary, but tends to “kill the spirit.” Thus it’s only the mystical or spiritual side of Christianity that can help you on your spiritual journey.
That is, it’s only the ongoing exploration of the spiritual that provides the ways and means to improve the quality of your earthly pilgrimage. And a BTW: To see how “mystic” or “mysticism” can give a Southern Baptist apoplexy, see A dame and a mystic. (Just kidding!)
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In other words, this blog says you develop more by reading the Bible with an open mind. (And sometimes even “suspending disbelief.”) Again, if you read it too literally, you’re only cheating yourself. (See On reading the Bible.) Or as a great philosopher once put it:
“Mind like parachute. Work best when open.”
So the theme here is that the Bible was written to liberate us.
Another point: Imagine – just for a moment – that people just like us wrote the Bible. Imagine that it was written a long long time ago, by people who had all the faults and failings that we have today. Yet somehow, those people found a personal union with God, the Force that Created the Universe.
Finding your union with God is what this blog is all about.
It’s kind of like “copying masterpieces.” To become a better artist, you first imitate the Old Masters. But from that you then start developing your own unique style.
So how will this blog help you – the reader – find that Union With God?
Let’s turn to the metaphor that to you, the Bible is a “vast unexplored continent.” If you’re planning a trek into that vast continent, you’ll want a guide who’s already been there. That’s where I come in. I started my first journey through the Bible 23 years ago, on July 14, 1992. Since then I’ve gone through it eleven full times. (I started the 12th journey last November 30.) In that process I’ve read through the Psalms and Gospels 36 to 44 times each.
For more on my credentials see The Scribe. But for now it’s enough to say the Bible opens up a whole new world to you. It’s like the whole new continent opening up after Lewis and Clark did their thing. I’ve done my Lewis-and-Clark exploring, a process continuing “even to this day…”
So, are you ready for your own Great Exploration!!??
– The Scribe
Here’s the normal format for these blog-posts: 1) a lead image, usually an old-timey painting, preferably by the likes of Rembrandt or El Greco; 2) the main text; 3) a bottom image, followed by; 4) notes and references, in Italics.
On that note, the upper image is courtesy of Age of Discovery – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The full caption reads: “Victoria, the single ship to have completed the first world circumnavigation. (Detail from Maris Pacifici by Ortelius, 1589.)” Another image in the article – a world map – showed the “Route of Magellan–Elcano world circumnavigation (1519–1522).”
Re: Getting the words but not the tune. See Mark Twain and the Art of Swearing, which told of Twain‘s wife Livy. (Née Olivia Langdon.) One time she repeated a string of Twain’s curses word for word. (Uttered at a time when he thought she was out of earshot.) Twain, slightly bemused, responded, “You got the words right, Livy, but you don’t know the tune.” (Other recollections indicate he actually said, “LIvy, you got the words but you ain’t got the music!”)
Re: Slick-haired televangelists. See the notes to On St. Barnabus’ Day, 2015: “Why are there so many televangelist scandals? – GotQuestions,Televangelists – Huffington Post (a list of articles on the subject), and Televangelist – RationalWiki.”
Re: John of the Cross. This St. John (1542-1591) was a “major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint, a Carmelite friar and a priest who was born at Fontiveros, Old Castile.” His image is courtesy of Wikipedia and includes the caption: “Saint John of the Cross by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1656.”
The parachute image is courtesy of Parachuting – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
For a post that pretty much summarizes the theme of this blog, see The True Test of Faith. Or for a post that provides some deep background about how this whole blog-thing got started, see On “God’s Favorite Team” – Part III. (Based on an “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work” sports ritual…)
Re: “ways and means.” An allusion to the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means committee, and others like it. The term refers to a government body “charged with reviewing and making recommendations for government budgets,” with the main goal being “to forward the objectives of economic policy.” See Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Re: “carbon-copy Christians.” See How to Break the Cookie-Cutter, Carbon Copy Christian Cycle:
Churches, wittingly or otherwise, often taken on the role of mass producing assembly lines. Each Christian is instructed in the same way, given the same set of rules, a particular sanitized clothing lines of music selection, and specific speculative interpretations of scripture which they must abide by. Churches such as these are not interested in creating unique Christians but mass produced carbon copies of each other.
Re: “vast unexplored continent.” See Louisiana Purchase Historical Overview – Louisiana Purchase 2003: “In the early 1800’s the United States was a young nation on the eastern seaboard of a vast, unexplored continent. The Louisiana Purchase … brought with it new cultures, new citizens, and vast natural resources. It has shaped America to what it is today.”
The lower image is courtesy of Discovering Lewis & Clark ®, and seems to best express a sense of both exploration and contemplation. To see the original image click “The Expedition,” or see http://www.lewis-clark.org/sites/default/files/theexpedition.jpg, which added:
Since January of 2009 the ownership and management of Discovering Lewis & Clark® has been in the hands of the Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation … to make this the most comprehensive and useful Lewis and Clark website on the Internet.
To extend the metaphor, the reader could consider me a guide or scout, not unlike those used in the great “Western Expansion” of the early and mid-1800s, after the Lewis and Clark expedition. See for example Westward Expansion – Facts & Summary – HISTORY.com.
And finally, as noted elsewhere, you can get a book version of collections of posts from this blog. See For a book version…