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Once you start reading the Bible on a daily basis – and with an open mind – you’ll find an exciting “New World” to explore. You’ll become like the old-time explorers whose main job – it so often seemed – was to push past the grim warnings and superstitions:
In the 15th and 16th centuries, superstitious people might have warned an explorer, sailing west from Europe, that he was doomed to fall off the edge of the world. At the very least, they might have said, the explorer and his sailors would suffer horribly and never be seen again… For all the grim warnings, nobody could have predicted that the explorers would not sail off the edge of the known world, but into an entirely new one. (E.A.)
That’s pretty much what this Blog is about. The idea that reading the Bible doesn’t mean you mold yourself into a pre-formed “carbon copy Christian.” (Or just “another brick in the wall.”)
But first a note: This blog is a series of newspaper-style columns, and a column meets the following criteria: 1) it is a regular feature in a publication, 2) it is “personality-driven” by the author, and 3) it explicitly contains an opinion or point of view. See columnist – Wikipedia:
A columnist is someone who writes for publication in a series, creating an article that usually offers commentary and opinions. Columns appear in newspapers, magazines and other publications, including blogs.
So, the columns in this blog do contain a point of view. I’ll leave it to the reader to determine whether those columns are personality-driven.
Another note: I remember a column that George Will – seen at right – did years ago. As I remember, George said a columnist needs three seductive skills: “be pleasurable, be concise, and be gifted at changing the subject frequently.” That’s what I hope to do.
Another thing I’m trying to do is reach out to Nones and others turned off by “negative Christians.” See “Nones” on the Rise and The Growth Of The “Nones.” (About the rise of the “religiously unaffiliated.”)
Such Nones overwhelmingly think that “religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.” (“Demographers have given them this name because when asked to identify their religion, that’s their answer: ‘none.’“) As to why:
[T]he single most important reason for the rise of the unknowns [“Nones”] is that combination of the younger people moving to the left on social issues and the most visible religious leaders moving to the right on that same issue. [E.A.]
So: money, rules, politics. Those seem to be why many turn away from Christianity. (Along with a general perception that too many Christians are way too negative.) But Jesus was anything but negative. As He said in John 10:10, “I am come that they” – His flock, then and now – “may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (Webster’s Bible.)
So His goal was for you to grow and develop into all you can be. My goal is to help you on that spiritual journey. Which also helps me on my journey. (See Learning by teaching – Wikipedia, which cited Seneca the Younger and his bit of Latin wisdom docendo discimus, which translates, “by teaching we are learning.” And that’s not to mention James 5:20.) Or consider this comment:
I don’t have a problem with God. I have a problem with religion. I’ve chosen to live my life without the certainties of religious faith.
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Getting back to “about this blog,” let’s start with Blogging For Dummies:
At its most basic level, a blog is a chronologically ordered ordered series of website updates, written and organized much like a traditional diary, right down to the informal style of writing that characterizes personal communication. (E.A.)
So this blog is a diary, mostly based on the Bible readings set out by the Episcopal Church for the next Sunday or two. And here’s another blog-definition from Soapbox:
And a word about theory. The theory or theme here is that people who read the Bible in a strict, narrow or “fundamental” way are only cheating themselves.
Not only that, they’re also driving people away from The Faith in droves.
But there is an alternative.
There is a way to read the Bible with common sense and in a way that helps you lead a richer, fuller, more productive life. In short, this blog is about reading the Bible with an open mind. Period. If your interpretation is closed, narrow or “exclusive,” this blog isn’t for you.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to suspend disbelief and read with an open mind, you may be pleasantly surprised. For one thing, if the writers of the Bible wanted your life to be just another rehash of things already done, they wouldn’t repeatedly say you should “sing a new song to the Lord.” And Isaiah wouldn’t have said that thing about “eagle’s wings…”
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“Those who hope in the Lord … will soar on wings like eagles“
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The upper image is courtesy of tmrichmond3.net/2014/02/07/here-be-dragons, a blog with one sub-title, “Reflections of a Tamed Cynic.” The blog-bio notes: “I am the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Medford, Oregon. I believe that faith should be able to sustain us, not oppress us.”
The opening, indented quotation is courtesy of Track 1, Disc 1, The Modern Scholar: Journeys of the Great Explorer’s: Columbus to Cook.
See also Here be dragons – Wikipedia, about the expression referring to “dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of the medieval practice of putting dragons, sea serpents and other mythological creatures in uncharted areas of maps.”
Re: “Blogging for Dummies,” the full cite includes: 4th Edition, by Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (2012), at page 9.
Re: “Nones.” An experiment: Google “negative Christians.” I did that and got some 12 million hits.
For more on the idea that too many Christians are way too negative, see On the Bible readings for August 3. See also (for example) Why are Christians so negative and judgemental? – RZIM Europe, Do Christians spend too much time being negative? – Christian, and 5 Negative Effects of Complaining for Christians. The gist is that this perception is a problem for all practicing Christians.
Re: James 5:20. I like to think of the “forgiveness of many sins” passage as the James 5:20 commission, in a quasi-commercial sense. As noted elsewhere in this blog, “I’ll take any break I can.” For another example, I tend to give most people the benefit of the doubt, in keeping with Matthew 7:2, “the way that you judge others will be the way that you will be judged…”
As to singing a new song, see Gospel for May 18, citing Isaiah 42:10 and Psalms 96:1, 98:1, and 144:9.
The soaring-eagle image is courtesy of beliefnet.com/columnists/haveamagnificentday.
And finally, as noted elsewhere, you can get a book version of collections of posts from this blog. See For a book version…