Friday, February 04, 2005

Of Borg and viruses

I've fallen off the new pace of posting... lots of family illness this week (gastro-intestinal variety... not life-threatening, but not pleasant, especially for kids!).

Well, after getting 80% of the way through the Borg book, I've stalled a bit (work and family can get in the way of one's reading). :)

I must say that while I have often thought that parts of the Bible almost certainly aren't factually true, it still looks odd seeing that statement in print. There's something a bit troubling about seeing passages described as embellishments or myths (though I understand the way he is using the word "myth" is a bit different from its use in vernacular).

I also find it interesting that he can dismiss some miracles while retaining others... He's the scholar, but it is interesting that the parting of the Red Sea couldn't have happened, but Jesus restoring sight to the blind by laying hands on them could. Loaves and fishes, no. Curing illnesses, yes. Seems a bit arbitrary. I'm not opposed to the idea that elements of the Bible are not factually true (I personally find that both reassuring and liberating, especially given his distintion between "truth" and factual validity). But some of those distinctions are bit more difficult for me to make. I guess when it comes to the life of Jesus, part of me wants to say "Yes, these things are incredible and miraculous... the fact that we have no corollaries in our direct experience is due to the fact that we have never stood in the presence of the Son of God." His litmus test seems to be that some things are just so outside of our experiences and what we know about the world as to be beyond reason. But God is beyond reason. The notion that Jesus Christ walked on earth and died on the cross is beyond reason. Isn't that the whole point? I don't even like to pray for specific things in life, because I know that I can't even begin to know what God should do. I sat on an airplane that had a frightening aborted landing due to a snowstorm 2 weeks ago, and I didn't even pray for God to protect me. I just said "I'm in your hands, Lord. Thy will be done. If you take me now, please help my family understand." So who am I to discern whether the loaves and fishes story is real?

ON THE OTHER HAND, I found his discussion of Genesis intriguing. I have always thought that scientific research makes the power of God seem greater. Every day, we learn more about the incredible universe we live in. All of that knowledge makes the Creator seem more amazing to me. So I've been troubled by those who so quickly toss out evolution so they can retain the Creation story as literally factually true. Evolution is yet another wonderful part of our world, and guess who made it? Great system. (Thanks, God!)

My favorite part of the book thus far is his discussion of the prophets as social revolutionaries. Wow, that has really opened up a whole new way of looking at the Old Testament for me. And his treatment of Ecclesiastes is really intriguing... I love the comparison to the Tao.

The discussion of the social context in which the Bible was written is very helpful and fascinating to me. No matter where you come down on the notion of the Bible as literally, factually true, I think it is important to learn about the context.

This book hasn't shaken my faith. I don't agree with everything Borg has said, but it has made me appreciate the Bible even more. It has made me want to reread whole sections anew (I'm already working my way through the NT, but I might have to shift to other sections just to explore what he says about them).

Enough for one day. Have a great day!