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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What does it mean to "read" the Bible?

I suppose there are as many ways to read the Bible as there are people who read it. Reading is a personal experience, involving one's history and learning, and since everyone pretty much has an unique history, the reading experience is often unique too. Most of the time that does not bother us. When we read a classic work of literature like Whitman's Leaves of Grass, we often want to hear how other people experience that work. Even reading the newspaper or a website becomes more interesting when others notice details and connections we may have missed. But somehow...for some...when it comes to the Bible we want everyone to agree that a passage only means one thing. We want to point to some literal or allegorical meaning that a Bible text is about this or that, and any other interpretation is twisting scripture to fit our purposes, or a rationalization, or an uninformed view.

The question that interests me is why do we all have to agree on what a particular Bible passage means? What does it matter if we do not agree? Is God threatened by a diversity of intepretation? Does the death of Jesus have less power because we intepret its story in various ways? Is the Spirit in danger of losing track of people who do not get the Bible one way or another? I find this push for a singular meaning in the reading of scripture to be baffling...What is the point? I cannot believe that a God who died in order to deliver on a promise to humanity to live forever is befuddled by a plurality of interpretation of that event...or any of the stories or events that lead up to and from it...

The God that inspires me strives for beauty...for the power to live and die in a gracious breath...the God that inspires me stretches my mind beyond the pain to the grace of a relationship unfetterred by human chains...The God of the cross, crying for the love of people, inspires me to use my imagination, to seek the unfound, to discover the hidden, and to search for all that is possible...As the poet Robert Browning remarked, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, else what's a heaven for?" Or, even reading?

1 comment:

Pam Brewer said...

I love your line, "The God that inspires me strives for beauty."

It gives me the inspiration to strive for beauty in everything I do. Which, I have to say, is only possible for me through the Spirit.