Monday, January 28, 2008



  • In 1975, a man riding a moped in Bermuda was accidentally struck and killed by a taxi. One year later, the man’s brother, riding the very same moped, was killed in the very same way by the very same taxi driven by the very same driver -- and carrying the very same passenger.
  • Twin brothers Jim Lewis and Jim Springer were separated at birth and adopted by different families. Unknown to each other, both were named James, both owned a dog named Toy, both married women named Linda, both had a son they names James Alan, and both eventually divorced and got remarried to a woman named Betty.
  • A German mother who photographed her infant son in 1914 left the film to be developed at a store in Strasbourg, but was unable to collect the film picture when World War I broke out. Two years later she bought a film plate in Frankfurt, over 100 miles away, and took a picture of her newborn daughter -- only to find, when developed, the picture of her daughter superimposed on the earlier picture of her son. The original film, never developed, had been mistakenly labeled as unused and resold.
  • In 1858, Robert Fallon was shot dead by fellow poker players who accused him of cheating to win a $600 pot. None of the other players were willing to take the now unlucky $600, so they found a new player to take Fallon’s place, who turned the $600 into $2,200 in winnings. At that point, the police arrived and demanded that the original $600 be given to Fallon’s next of kin -- only to discover that the new player was Fallon’s son, who had not seen his father in seven years.
  • In 1930s Detroit, a man named Joseph Figlock was to become an amazing figure in a young (and, apparently, incredibly careless) mother’s life. As Figlock was walking down the street, the mother’s baby fell from a high window onto Figlock. The baby’s fall was broken and Figlock and the baby were unharmed. A year later, the same baby fell from the same window, again falling onto Mr. Figlock as he was passing beneath. Once again, both of them survived the event.
  • In 1973, actor Anthony Hopkins agreed to appear in “The Girl From Petrovka”, based on a novel by George Feifer. Unable to find a copy of the book anywhere in London, Hopkins was surprised to discover one lying on a bench in a train station. It turned out to be George Feifer’s own annotated (personal) copy, which Feifer had lent to a friend, and which had been stolen from his friend’s car.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Biblical Dilemmas: Solved

For over a year I've had a nagging complaint with the Bible. *Gasp*! Don't lay prostrate on the floor for me just yet. Inside the group of Christians we went to church with a year ago it was hinted that because the *Pastor* had so much Bible training and I didn't, I couldn't possibly trust myself to read the Bible and interpret it correctly (so little faith in the Holy Spirit, I realize!).

This distressed me greatly. I was angry at God. Why give us a book, call it His Word, treat it like a manual-for-living, say it's inerrant, and then say Sola scriptura. I didn't know how to deal with my anger and confusion, assuming that if I did ever actually talk to someone about my doubts in the Bible that I'd be labeled a heretic, or worse, in rebellion.

I tried to play with the word "inspired." Does it really mean the *Greek*? And finding out that's just exactly what "inspired" means, what does God-breathed really mean? The only conclusion I could come up with was that I was stuck believing in a Book that had all the answers, was full of stories and instruction directly from the mouth of God, even though hardly anyone could completely agree on it's meaning. These are the things I had been taught. They're the truths that most of my fellow believer-friends continue to hold dear to.

I began to look into other people's ways of interpreting the Bible. I found that many people disagree with the traditional way women are viewed, and I realized that maintaining cultural integrity was actually very important. Take, for instance, this article on Household Codes. Mr. Kruse does an honorable job at revealing the way Greeks & Romans understood words, metaphors, and associations. I hope you read it (at least Greco-Roman Households, The “Head” metaphor, and The Household Code: Ephesians 5:18-6:9), but here is one of his conclusions regarding the structure of the family and what Paul had to say in regards to it:

For those of us living in 21st Century democracies with a range of options for how to govern our social institutions, it is hard to appreciate just how unalterable social structures must have seemed to Paul, at least until Christ returned. Social structures were not on Paul’s radar. What Paul was concerned about was how we live within the given structures. If people lived in genuine submission to each other, then the power inequities of the structures would be rendered meaningless.
As Molly said in regards to the article, " Whatever conclusion one comes to, this is certainly important background information."

Then I came across Michael Spencer's A Conversation in God's Kitchen. He introduces us to his model for understanding the Bible, interpreting the Bible, and applying the Bible- all based on what Literature Scholars recognize as "The Great Conversation." Viewing the Bible as a "great conversation" between writers helped me realize that (as Michael says, ) "it allows a variety of viewpoints on a single subject, such as the problem of evil. Job argues with Proverbs. It encourages us to hear all sides of the conversation as contributing something, and doesn’t say only one voice can be heard as right."

Here's a snippet from his section on "What is the Bible?"
Genesis isn’t twentieth century science. Leviticus is primitive, brutal and middle eastern. The Old Testament histories are not scholarly documentaries, but religious and tribal understandings of God and events. Proverbs comes from a mongrel wisdom tradition throughout the middle east. Song of Solomon is erotic poetry, and not much else. The prophets spoke to their own times, and not to our own. The scholars who help me understand these books as they are, are not enemies of truth, but friends. Call it criticism, paint it as hostile, but I want to know what the texts in front of me are saying!
Most importantly, this model says the Bible presents a conversation that continues until God himself speaks a final Word. In other words, I do not expect this conversation to go on endlessly. It has a point. A conclusion. And in that belief, the great Biblical conversation differs from the Great Books conversation. There is not an endless spiral of philosophical and experiential speculation. There is, as Hebrews 1 says, a final Word: Jesus.
Under his next point, "How Can I Say the Bible is Inspired?" I cannot express to you the relief that washed over me when I read,
I am not shocked that Catholics and Lutherans find the words “This is my body” to mean something different than Baptists do. I am distraught that any of these parties would fail to see that we are all listening to the same texts, and disagreement isn’t because some of us are all that much smarter or better listeners. It’s because we listen to different parts of the conversation, in different ways, and we are allowed to do so.
In the very same little church I was a part of that tried to teach me I was incapable of really understanding what the scriptures were saying, I was taught that people who did not believe the same interpretation of the Bible that we did were not simply wrong, but "teaching [sic] by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming." Especially Catholics. I was taught that people like me who could see why believers had different views were being blown by the winds of false teaching. I was convinced for a while, but when I realized that I was coming to drastically different understandings from the Scriptures than the little church itself, I began to doubt everything they taught and search for a better Biblical understanding.

Now to the final admission I had planned to make: I do not believe in the inerrancy of scripture. *Gasp* again! It has taken me quite a while to get to this realization. I feel like a heretic just saying it! But I have come to believe that while scripture is inspired by God, it was not dictated by God as Joseph Smith claims about the Book of Mormon. Throughout the New Testament the writers say very human things, back-tracking in some places (see this post at Adventures in Mercy), clearly explaining others as something *they* do not permit (see also 1 Corinthians 7:12).

Again (and as a last thought) I'll refer to something very telling from InternetMonk:

[W]hat has inerrancy done for all those individuals and churches who embrace it? I’ll let BHT [Boar's Head Tavern] fellow Bill Mackinnon call the roll.

Those who hold to inerrancy usually qualify it by saying it only applies to the originals. Great. We don’t have them.

Inerrancy is supposed to help us achieve unanimity in doctrinal matters, yes? Has it?

Common doctrine of God? No. (There’s a guy at IM taking Michael to task about inerrancy who has doubts about the Trinity)

Common doctrine of Baptism? No.

Common doctrine of Communion? No.

Common doctrine of Church organization? No.

Common doctrine of Spiritual Gifts? No.

Common doctrine of Biblical interpretation? No.

Common doctrine of Salvation? No.

Common doctrine of Creation? No.

There are all kinds of people who hold to inerrancy who vigorously disagree on the issues above. And there are people who are on both sides of the inerrancy question who hold common agreement on the doctrines listed above. There are inerrantists who don’t know, read, or rely on the scriptures as much as some who don’t hold to inerrancy.

Do inerrant originals guarantee inerrant transcription? No

Do inerrant originals guarantee inerrant translation? No

Do inerrant originals guarantee inerrant interpretation? No

Birds of a Feather

I came across a new blog yesterday (thanks, Meredith!).

I'm enamored.

If you aren't too familiar with the blog-o-sphere, you may not have realized that many blogs dedicated to decorating (which may or may not be "the Nester's" intent) are lacking in authenticity. Nesting Place is not. It's light but not fluffy, sassy but not overboard. In a word: charming.

Here is her most recent post with cute *easy* (cheap!) curtain hanging tips.

Here is a post that looks quite familiar, with different players in a different setting.

And here is the other post that made me say, "Aww!"

I love how she documents her life in pictures. What a great way to preserve those moments that are categorically special! I'm a new fan, and adding her to my sidebar already.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

the God journey

Since Christmas, when I got my fantastic new little iPod, I've been listening to the God Journey, a fantastic new little podcast! Just Kidding: because the God Journey is neither new nor little.

I followed the link from Molly's blog (yes! she's back!), and have been hooked ever since. These guys, Wayne & Brad, have gotten me to a place where I understand God in a whole new way. Profound in their simplicity, I am turning from my God-as-concept way of life back into a God-as-friend way of living.

One of their "taglines" is "thinking outside the box of organized religion." Am I anti-institution now? No. But I am beginning to see that the way some churches lord their authority over people is not healthy, nor biblical. I'm beginning to understand that performance-based living, shame-infused to boot, was never God's intention. As in the stories of the Samaritan woman at the well, and with the woman who was about to be stoned, Jesus did not cast condemnation on them, or shame them into better behavior. That was not His way, and it certainly doesn't need to be ours.

A year ago God began to show me that "church" as I knew it was not the end all be all. "Church" is not a building. It isn't your choice of people that you meet with on Sundays. The Church is the Bride of Christ: "where two or three are gathered..." The unhealthy church we finally left tried to convince me that church *was* the Sunday morning event- and you *had* to be a part of that ("if you want to be a good Christian, you go to church on Sundays, and Wednesdays, and..." performance based, anyone?). They had verses to back it up (of course), and thinking that I couldn't possibly hear from God on my own because I didn't have years & years of Bible training, I believed them.

Thanks to Wayne and Brad, for spending their time podcasting once a week for almost three years. I have come to acknowledge that "church," or (as they say) the Sunday morning event, is not what God is all about. We are called to live relationally, and to me, that is the highest calling: love God and love our neighbors. Easier said than done if you're honest...