Expectations

It’s never good when we expect a person to accomplish something that they never set out to accomplish

Them judge them by their inability to complete the unattempted task

It’s deliberately misleading to say that someone failed at a task they never undertook

My brother is writing a novel, so I shouldn’t expect that book to be a detailed factual history

My cousin writes music, so I shouldn’t expect those songs to be methodical genealogies

Even when there is some overlap, when a person tries to use another subject to better accomplish their task

The original task is still the standard we should judge by

A piece of fiction about a historical event is still fiction

A song about genealogy is still a song

I should hold these works to the standard of what they were trying to achieve:

An entertaining tale

An engrossing tune

Meant to make us think and stimulate us in specific ways

The same for the Bible

The Bible is meant to make us think and stimulate us in specific ways

It’s books were composed intentionally

It’s authors had specific goals in mind

To expect the Bible to accomplish tasks it’s authors never set out to accomplish sets it up for failure

When the Bible fails at such tasks, it hasn’t really failed at all

We have chosen to read it incorrectly

We have expected it to do something it was never meant to do

Not just by its human authors, but by God as well

If you believe in God

And you believe that God delivered the Bible to us deliberately

In it’s current form

Then approach the Bible with the assumption that we are meant to read it as it is delivered

If God wanted the Bible to be something other than a collection of books written by different authors over long periods of time

Then it wouldn’t be what it is today

The Bible is a library meant to help you know God better

The Bible does what a library does: illuminate truth by viewing the world from multiple perspectives

That is the task it is meant to accomplish

There is plenty of room for nuance here. For me, I may try to accomplish a specific task but it’s clear that I should have approached it from a different angle. In that case I failed to accomplish something that I wasn’t trying to accomplish, but probably should have. Many more examples I’m sure but I still stick by the purpose of this post; it’s important to approach the Bible for what it is trying to do.

Not what we wish it to do.

Also, just a side note, the picture of books that I used in this post is the Nag Hammadi Library. Which is not part of the Bible. But come on, those leathery tomes are cool looking 😎

THOSE people are destroying society

Whoever they are. I’m not sure who it’s supposed to be anymore that’s unstitching society. Uprooting our morals, our standards for what is acceptable. I really don’t know because so many of the arguments are silly

And so many don’t care to make an argument at all. They just care to identify a scapegoat

It’s

The Gays
The Jews
The Rednecks
The Latinos
The Blacks
The Scientists
The Atheists
The Catholics
The Mormons
The Millenials
The Capitalists
The Socialists
Hillary Clinton

THOSE people

Whatever

I don’t care about the scapegoating and labeling that obviously has nothing to do with what’s actually driving our society into darker and darker places

I did come across a great example of what’s destroying our society that has nothing to do with a scapegoat

The example is an incident that distills popular sentiments into a simple act

This young man knocked on a door for assistance and was met

With a gun

That my friends, is what’s destroying our society

I was a stranger and you welcomed me
– Matthew 25:35c NRSVCE

Nested Hierarchy

Finally, I wrote about Nested Hierarchy

I’m trying to keep this intro post as short as possible

…probably not doing a very good job though

Nested Hierarchy is the way I read the Bible. There are a number of ways to approach the Bible and many of them overlap

I’m just going to make a basic comparison here though

To contrast my view I’ll talk about a narrative hierarchy

That’s how we read most books

You start at the beginning of a book and read to the end, a straight line through the text

It’s an easy way to read for sure

That’s why most books are arranged this way; the beginning chapter creates a foundation and each chapter slowly builds on that foundation

I can’t read the Bible this way for one simple reason:

The Bible is not a book, it’s a collection of books

Some of the individual books have a narrative hierarchy, some don’t

But the collection as a whole definitely does not

So I have to look elsewhere for the foundation

I believe that foundation is Jesus

Jesus is the center of a nest, with the other layers in the nest built around him

Jesus is like an egg

The egg is the point of the nest
The egg gives the nest purpose
The egg is the reason the nest was built
Everything about the nest has to be viewed through the object at it’s center

I believe Jesus is the center of the Biblical nest

All the books of the Bible are read through the lens of Jesus

His teachings
His life
His death
His resurrection
His return

The books of the Bible have their purpose fulfilled by Jesus
Jesus is the reason this collection of books was built
Jesus is the point of the collection

The center of the Nested Hierarchy

This is a theological nest I’m talking about, others may use a similar nested approach but with a different goal.

A good example would be a historical approach. Instead of trying to find the theological center of the biblical texts you might try to determine which books were written first. Then you could look at the Bible in terms of how each book is related to those that came before it.

You could do the same with language or culture as the center around which everything was built

To be honest most of us use some combination of these different different approaches

Me included

But the most important to me is the the theological nested hierarchy

My theological perspective is definitely Christian. There are others as well.

Jewish theology for example. You could say that Jewish theology places the first five books of the Hebrew Bible at the center and builds theological interpretation of the other books around them. Those first five books are also know as the Torah or the Pentateuch.

Even Muslims revere the Bible, though they view it with the lens of their prophet and their holy book at the center

My lens is Jesus
Every book points to him
Every conundrum and question that the diverse writers of the Bible attempt to address are fulfilled by him

All of my beliefs, my faith flow from this method of understanding the Bible

The Nested Hierarchy of the Bible leads me to a number of different conclusions, many that other Christians don’t share

About history
About neurology
About physics
About human sexuality
About any aspect of life that I relate to by way of the Bible

All these conclusions and more are the result of reading the Bible as a Nested Hierarchy

The term nested hierarchy is used in a variety of contexts

Brain science

Genealogy

Those Russian dolls that fit inside each other

Reading about these examples might help illustrate what I’m saying here better than I can

I know that thinking this way has led me to many conclusions that other Christians would disagree with. I certainly disagree with many Christians as a result of my nested approach to the Bible.

I guess that’s one point of this blog

We can’t find common ground if we don’t understand each other. If you want to understand my religious beliefs whether you’re Christian or not

Nested Hierarchy is my staring point

I should really do a post just about Peter Gomes & why no one knows who he is

But for now I’ll just post this quote

And think about what it says to me today

Then also think about the fact that he spoke these words in 1989

And think about what that says about us today

“There must be such a hope for the destitute of our American Calcuttas,’ Gomes said. ‘There must be such a hope for the prisoners of the inner city within sight of this cathedral church and beyond; there must be such a hope for the aged and the destitute; there must be such a hope for persons with AIDS and those who love and care for them”

I encourage you to think on these words

What does it look like to be Christian? Part 1

Impossible to answer

Believing in Jesus
In the Gospel

Should change me
The way I think
The way I behave

I should be transformed

But there is no way to verify that those changes have taken place

The change in one person won’t look the same as the change in others

Our actions may be a clue
But those actions can be deceiving
You can’t know the motive
What lurks behind the actions
What they are born of

Only God knows

That’s why I can’t judge

I don’t know your life
I don’t know your struggle
I don’t know your repentance
I don’t know what transformation will mean for you

So I don’t judge

But I want transformation for you
For everyone that craves it
I pray for it

I pray for you

Empty Words and Fleeing to the Desert

I don’t want to hear boring music about nothing

I wouldn’t mind hearing old music with some real depth, but the churches that still use old hymns have become cloistered and unwelcoming

Both of those types, and every variation between them, are filled with rigid, religious human shields who resist any attempt at self examination

I’m not the only one. And it goes well beyond music

It’s about the roar and grasping of empty words

That’s why so many leave

They realize they’re not part of a community

They’re definitely not constituents, not integral components of a larger whole

They’re subjects

To something unfulfilling, unwilling to self reflect

Or improve.

So they find community elsewhere

Outside the buildings

Somewhere with a mind of humility, openness, and rejuvenation

The promise that so many Christian communities leave unfulfilled

Like the Desert Mothers and Fathers of the 3rd century, many are now building communities that fulfill the promises of Christ
Instead of asking for admittance to communities that claim to own those promises

The Desert vs Trolls

Read the Desert

Words are Dumb

Words are meaningless

Seriously

They mean nothing

We give words their meaning by using them

That’s why a word’s meaning changes over time

One person uses a word to communicate an idea

Then another uses it to communicate their own idea, which may be relatively similar or wildly different.

That process continues, each person using words for different purposes and passing on those subtleties in meaning. Eventually any given word will have an array of definitions.

Just look in a dictionary. Some words have a laundry list of uses.

Eventually new uses will be added to those lists as we use words in new, inventive ways.

Some uses will get deleted from the list. That’s what it means if you come across word definition that has archaic next to it

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/whats-the-difference-between-archaic-and-obsolete

The definition is archaic because no one has used the word that way for a long time.

We even conjure up new words.

Like meme

Or blog

We also alter words to add meaning to them, like irregardless

(which is totally a word)

https://www.facebook.com/businessinsider/videos/10154743619774071/

Words are slippery and malleable They are also INCREDIBLY important

Words are absolutely the best way we have to communicate.

Music, painting, & other artistic expressions are all good ways to communicate our ideas to each other in a general way.

But words can do so with precision.

If I want to know you, the best way to do so if through your words

If you want to know me, the best way will be through my words.

I have to examine the words I come across. Think long and hard about how they are being used. How they were meant to create meaning by the person using them. Try to feel my way through their slipperiness and find what the speaker or writer wanted me to know.

I can’t assume that others use words the same way I do.

I’ve come to realize that so many of the problems we have in the world are the results of not taking the time to exam the words we come across. Those words are meant to create meaning and if we don’t try to see how the person is using the words we can easily miss what they meant.

Grammar, Google, Dictionaries, all good tools to uncover meaning.

But they’re not enough to capture the nuance of how we use, alter, and recreate meaning through language.

Words and language will always be defined by use, just as much or more so than convention.

Think on the words others chose to use

Think on the words you chose to use

I know that I get more out of every interaction with other people when I’m able to consider the words, then move past them to what they mean.

Don’t get caught up on words, they’re dumb. Look for MEANING.

http://www.latimes.com/socal/burbank-leader/opinion/tn-blr-me-0805-aword-20170803-story.html