Poking at the Foundation(s)...
Perhaps this could start a series we might call poking at the foundations.
I find myself returning to some really basic questions in the hopes of becoming more conscious—and inviting deeper consciousness in those who profess faith—amidst our spiritual journeying in human bodies (spiritual beings having a human experience, as the saying goes). Asking the questions doesn’t mean antagonism, in other words, but simply invitation to deeper curiosity, clarity, awareness. Nothing prescriptive here, simply descriptive from this body’s seeing, hearing.
I have been carrying around my seminary bible, getting reacquainted with its presence, after much absence these last years. I have appreciated friends’ texting or actively listening in, as they've begged some of the basic questions in me...like...
Why do you turn to scripture, if you do? For what or whom/Whom do you seek? How do you know S/He/They will be found (through) there?
My earliest memories of approaching scripture are fond, yet achievement oriented. I remember being affirmed for ‘morning devotions,' for example; the more ritualistic, seemingly the better. This now strikes me as socializing with little connection to the mystery of the sacred, but parents are tasked with socializing their children. Much more wise-fun was the “card game” my folks created, with significant scriptures printed onto index cards. These were to be memorized, with greater points or pride, the more one could remember. At this stage, we gathered around scripture to be together, to play, to memorize snippets of communal story or wisdom.
In college, scripture was used by para-church communities to socialize, often to shame. I remember one off-campus retreat used a study of Romans 1:18ff to shame us into acquiescence of norms the leaders valued. Out of curiosity, returning to that text just now, I’m sure adults were simply trying to get us to not have sex.
A now familiar anger arises. Don’t get me started on the use of the Bible to shame women from their sacred bodies, beauty, power, giftedness.
Today, I find myself observing Christian friends from all walks of life, watching them approach scripture. One looks solely to the bible to feel closer to Godde. She expressed this to me with a grief-fear of how far from Godde she perceives her earlier life to be. Another listens faithfully each morning for Spirit’s word to her, looking to scripture verses in a couple translations to undergird or affirm what she has heard. My husband looks to the text(s) in a lectionary rhythm for his preaching vocation in which his prayer life aligns. Reading, researching, historical critical analysis, exposition of the text and its meaning for a community today.
Given how draining I experience “Christian community” that is mostly civic, not intimate, I experience most scripture to be used. It’s an individual and/or communal prop, meeting human expectation of what being faithful is…all while it dissociates people from their own wisdom, voice.
How could that be faithful, to be disconnected from whom Godde created you and only you to be?
Filled with someone else's faith, seems to me. They've probably been dead a long time.