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Monday, May 24, 2010

A Long List of Questions and Still Just the Beginning

It's Monday morning, which means going out for a 3-4 mile run is mandatory in order to start the week off on the right foot, so to speak.  Running is so important to my mental health.  It's my solitary time to be alone with my thoughts, work through issues, sweat-out frustrations, and try to recapture peace.  Things almost always seem clearer after a good run.

This morning's topic is inspired by a new favorite book of mine: A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith, by Brian Mclaren

Today's obsession, a long list of questions of my own: What would I take away from the Bible if I were reading it for the first time, without any influence from the church, my family, or dogma that I've been exposed to?

What if I didn't bring a whole list of assumptions to it?  What if I didn't have to believe in (or had never been exposed to) the notion of the Bible being The Word of God?  What if I had never heard about Divine Inspiration?  What if I considered it a collection of stories?  What if I didn't have to believe in literal or historical accuracy and could consider metaphorical meaning?

Unburdened by any preconceived notions, could I learn something new about humanity and our spiritual history?  Might I see an evolving narrative of mankind's struggle to understand their world, their place in it, and spiritual things?  Would I be able to accept that perhaps some of these people had different perceptions than my own?  What if some of them "got it wrong"?

Could I understand how a person might pray for the destruction of their enemies, given their circumstances, yet not be compelled myself to believe that God hates anyone or would grant such a wish?  Could I see the books of the New Testament as different points of view, grappling with what each writer experienced and learned from Jesus; as independent accounts and perspectives without being troubled by conflicts?

Could I use these stories to learn more about myself and my own struggles along the way?  Would they help me understand that others have been where I am, whether crying out to God in despair or rejoicing in victory?  

Is there a view of the Bible that illustrates how connected we are, despite our different cultures and belief traditions, Gentiles and Jews?  Might I be able to move beyond my own self-centered issues with atonement, improvement, and acceptance to a view of myself as a world citizen?  Could I see Jesus' teachings as practical regarding His wishes for us as a citizen in this life and not merely about the afterlife?

Is it possible that every attempt to understand, experience, speak or write about God, the original "uncaused cause" of the universe and creator of us all, will always be a flawed human endeavor that falls short in some way?

Run complete, watch stopped.  The answer: Yes.

Blessings my friends.