I am blogging my way through Neighbors and Wisemen for Lent.
We are on chpt. 6 – today we talk about views of the Bible and how our faith creates our experiences.
First of all, I just want to acknowledge how good of a writer Tony is. I enjoyed reading the roller coaster of this chapter so much. I also grinned several times at little Balkan details he tucked in that I wondered if anyone else caught.
I was fascinated by how every character in this chapter had two sides.
The Islamic preachers at first seem to be propaganda-esque caricatures, but later we see them be gracious, insightful and hospitable.
Tony starts out as a peddle-to-the-metal zealous apologist ready to take on all comers, but later we see him as a confused and fragile young apprentice.
The pastor we see is both a wise, insightful, patient and comforting presence … who also has picked up and odd fascination with a niche subject that is both troubling and upsetting.
I love real characters. The reality is that we each have multiple sides. We have sides that face out and that the world can see. We also have shadow sides.
One of the arts of discipleship and developing christian character is acknowledge and addressing the shadow side.
That is part of what Lent is about for me. By taking something away or by adding a new variable, something is often exposed by my change of routine or my change in desire.
There were two interesting aspects of the translation issue raised in this chapter.
The first has do with where our confidence is rooted. I am a big fan of the Bible. But one thing I have seen over the last 20 years of reading the Bible is that when people put that much faith in something … then they find out new information about it, it can often rock the whole house right down to its foundation.
I have said before that we live in an era where everyone can own and read a Bible (thank God). But – and this can not be overstated – the Bible was not written to individuals to read alone. It is meant to be read A) out loud B) in community.
Reading the Bible silently and alone is where a lot of bad things start.
Those who believe the most in the Bible often know the least about the Bible. Those who the most behind the Bible often put the least amount of stock in the BIble.
It is an uncomfortable situation for all involved.
I am a big fan of John Wesley. Wesleyans have something called a Quadrilateral. It takes Scripture and partners it with reason, tradition and experience. This provides a real positive for me and sets up and odd negative.
The positive is that your knowledge of the Bible and the behind the scenes can be changed or adjusted without you losing your bearings. Scripture is not the sole location of our faith.
The negative comes up because I have bought into a school of thought that says “Our words & ideas not only help us interpret our experiences – they also help create the experiences.”
You can see this is Tony’s vocabulary about ‘the giants’ in our lives. Because he has this biblical story in his mind, it actually creates his experience with the preachers at the university. He is not only interpreting his experience through that lens – that lens is creating how he experiences the other.
If he had a different story in mind, he would have experienced them very differently. Our words shape our world at some level.
I would love to hear your thoughts on
- the shadow side of character
- the Bible situation
- spiritual experience and interpretation