Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It's time to dust off the Bible

And, behold, on the week before Palm Sunday, a small miracle took place: Stew and Al found themselves reading and highlighting passages from Scripture.

I hadn't opened my college Bible in so long that its pages are starting to look as yellowed and fragile as folios from the Dead Sea Scrolls. And alas, Stew's Bibles are heirlooms inherited from his father and written in Old Norwegian, full of curlicues, and as accessible as Klingon. We ended up reading the Bible on our Kindles, which was a great deal handier though not as atmospheric as having the big book in front of us.

This week's surprising turn of events was prompted by the minister of our church, who is leading discussion groups preceding Holy Week. He suggested certain readings from the New Testament touching on Jesus Christ's Passion and Crucifixion.

Reading the Bible was interesting but
we didn't get any special effects from Above. 
Our church may be the only one in town that offers two levels of religious fervor, which you can call regular and decaf. The regular service at 11:30 follows a more traditional, Episcopalian-ish format that includes communion, confession and a gospel reading, followed by a sermon. Almost the whole shebang.

Stew and I prefer the 9:30 decaf service which is more like an informal discussion, some times led by one of the participants, others by the visiting minister. The church is lucky to count with a team of excellent visiting ministers who intervene occasionally to keep the decaf service from turning into a meandering kaffeeklatsch. 

During my years in Catholic grammar and high school, and Catholic college, I received a healthy dollop—more like a shovelful—of Scripture. Indeed the margins of my Bible contain many now-incomprehensible annotations. None of those drills prevented me from falling off the Catholic wagon eons ago, largely over the Church's oppressive stance toward gay people. .

Stew's grasp of the Jesus story remains practically nil despite my occasional evangelizing efforts during our nearly forty-five years together. Sometimes I suspect his irreligiosity might be genetic.

After all the years—decades—of my Bible sitting on the shelf, I was surprised to find it, at least the New Testament, still compelling reading, filled with powerful images and stories and even high drama.

Behind the stories there are also life lessons—insights—that one can benefit from even without buying into the stories of Jesus' divinity or his distracting habit of performing miracles every other week.

One can find parables and other stories about loyalty, honesty, generosity, faith, self-doubt, love, hope and generally all those emotions and quandaries confronted by people trying to lead decent lives. Not saintly but just decent, and not two thousand years ago but today.

As for miracles, including Jesus' resurrection, I still regard them as one of the most imaginative—and effective—marketing campaigns ever devised, that convinced skeptical masses that Jesus was indeed far more than just another charlatan or rabble-rouser. It works even today.

2 comments:

  1. Well said... I was raised in a strikt Dutch Reformed Calvinistic, bible thumping house hold, and as a result I am now completely agnostic... But I do believe in freedom of choice.

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  2. Having been raised by a mother who became a Catholic, to say I have said enough rosaries and attended enough Masses for a lifetime, would be an understatement. Also going to Catholic school among other things, cured me and prepared me for an Un Catholic life. I have not read a Bible since the 8th grade. Thanks for your insights.

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