Friday, June 28, 2013

more Living Biblically: locusts, literalism, and the gays

In his attempt to obey the Biblical dietary laws, A.J. learns that God was frighteningly specific about everything, including which insects can and cannot be eaten. What i love about this book is the copious amounts of research that A.J. does (and shares!). He has no background in Sunday School or Bible camp, he didn't go to a Christian college, he hasn't attended the same church with the same pastor since he was born. He's a blank slate. He has no preconceptions about why God said or did certain things, and is honestly trying to seek truth.

God allows people to eat locusts. According to one book A.J. read, this is because locust swarms would sometimes cause famines. If people (especially the poor) were not allowed to eat the locusts themselves, they would die. A.J. likes this. "More and more, I feel it's important to look at the Bible with an open heart. If you roll up your sleeves, even the oddest passages -- and the one about edible bugs qualifies -- can be seen as a sign of God's mercy and compassion." pg. 176 Those who think that the Old Testament God was one of wrath and violence, in contrast to the gentle hippy Jesus, should take a closer look at some of OT God's commands.

A.J. later expresses some frustration about the dozens of different angles of interpretation to be found for the Bible. It seems impossible to come to any kind of absolute, literal understanding of the text. One of A.J.'s spiritual advisers gave him some guidance that A.J. found frustrating and that i found liberating: ". . . the Bible has seventy faces. The ancient rabbis themselves don't even claim to have struck the bedrock. The Talmud -- the huge Jewish book with commentaries on biblical law -- is far from black and white." pg. 182

And in light of the week we've had, it only seems right to quote a note A.J. made about laws in the Bible. "The law of fair weights and measures appears an impressive six times in the Bible. By way of comparison, the passages often cited to condemn homosexuality: also six." pg. 230

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