Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Emancipation

Today I recived a letter confirming my application to vote (by post) in the upcoming Scottish Parliament Elections. It set a rather good tone for the day, all rather exciting and enjoyable. Take Care Y'All JOhn

Reading the Bible

When God Was One of Us…by John Cooper The Bible is an imposing book. Before an examination of the contents, a barrage of stereotypes appear to remind us that it has been both the source of liberation from, and the cause of, suffering around the globe. From ‘Dr’ Ian Paisley to Archbishop Desmond Tutu it’s easy to name people who have used or abused the book to seek their ‘truth’. Yet for someone like me, with no formal theological training (just a want to explore) it is a difficult read. I have often struggled to want to read it, let alone manage to get anything meaningful out of it. It is often seen by many as the source of all truth yet all I enjoyed were the pictures. Recently I came to realise that the difficulty stemmed from its ever-changing nature. Ever-changing in both translation and personal perception. How can you learn from it if it never stops changing? Many of my friends read Bibles such as The Message which I view as awful and yet I can easily pick up the NRSV or sometimes the King James and connect instantly. Did that just make me odd? Were they all right and me wrong? Were we all wrong and there was a true version out there? So many questions before I had read a page! Yet, after many years of this contradiction, I have learned to step back and see what the Bible is. The Bible is theology. ‘Theology’, writes Richard Holloway, ‘is a human activity, something we do, but we also acknowledge that it is done in different ways.' This perception cleared up my problem outlined because by embracing the concept you can doubt and challenge what is written (because it is human-written and we are fallible) you can come closer to the real truth contained within. Once the debate is moved beyond full stops and words. then real discoveries can be made. By discoveries I mean a simple one. The exciting and challenging message contained around the key character, Jesus Christ. Through his life and works, as described by the humans who saw him, we are treated to a perception of how God had lived when he was, and the promise of returning now to live (as the song says) as one of us. Wether he will return or if we just have to delve for the key messages from the historical basis doesn't matter though. Because the ultimate message from it all was that Jesus was a man of action! When approaching the Bible, to find out how it can inspire modern campaigns like MakePovertyHistory or Stop Climate Chaos, we need an open mind. It enables themes to be noticed, contradictions to smoulder and links that are interwoven throughout the centuries of history contained within the book to become clear. I must admit though, I am not the most academic of people, so once I have begun to get an idea, I like to do something with it, play with it or nurture it in my head. To do that I tend to go for a walk and get out of the modern hurly-burly for a short time. The more I walk and explore nature, the more connected I feel to it all. Being more connected to what has come before and what is to come helps me to realise my own mortality and the implications of this. Hmmm, startlingly deep. Well no, what I mean is the idea that we are just a drop in the ocean of human history. There is much that has gone before us and much that will come after our time on this planet. So whilst I may be short-lived here, that doesn't mean I can't make a difference. As humans find new ways to destroy the fragile earth and its inhabitants, it is also up to others to fight to protect it. The phrase ‘As a Christian....’ prefacing a statement is always questionable. That said, the more I read the Bible the more I can't sit still and let injustice and poverty continue, as though by doing nothing I am allowing it to continue. But I suspect I am getting ahead of myself really as others have spread the news in better ways than I. I want to finish by turning to the works of Charles Wesley. This year sees both SCM examining the Bible and the 300th anniversary of the birth of Charles Wesley. This man, with his brother John, re-wrote the approach towards the telling of their discoveries within the Bible. He wanted to tell all about the Bible yet there was an issue of inaccessibility because of a largely uneducated (in the formal reading/writing sense) population.He worked tirelessly to ensure that songs and hymns were written to give out the key messages. Just because someone couldn’t read the book doesn’t mean they would miss out on the good news contained within. I hope this inspires you to consider what and where next for you on your spiritual journey. Bon Voyage! ‘Come, Holy Ghost (for moved by thee The prophets wrote and spoke), Unlock the truth, thyself the key, Unseal the sacred book’ H&P 469 ‘Come, Holy Ghost, Our Hearts Inspire' (Charles Wesley, 1707–88) This article first appeared as a reflection, published on the SCM website, as part of the year long exploration of the "Reading the Bible" theme by SCM. SCM is a movement of young Christian students in the UK. It stnads to question and explore Christianity from a non denominational perspectivem it doesn't leave this exploration in the meeting room and often turns its thoughts in social action! For more information, including membership and further reflections (by other authors) upon the theme click here