Ruth, Esther, and Job are my Old Testament heroes. They risked life and limb, gave up everything they knew, went bravely forward, asked for help when they needed it, took advice when it was offered, took responsibility for things they didn’t have to—they were early existentialists and they were faithful in their beliefs.
Ecclesiastes is my Book of Wisdom. It is about balance. It is about loyalty, affection, asking for and accepting help, offering help, listening…and did I mention the balance? It gives such solid advice. If we listen at doors and we hear people say things we don’t like—well, haven’t we don’t the same ourselves?
Sometimes we get more than we can handle. Ask for help—accept help. That’s the lesson.
John is my Gospel. It comes from a totally different set of sources than the other gospels. It has so much in common with the other gospels. For me though, “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.” The universe was created with God’s will and chaos was tamed with words—it appeals to me on every level.
I don’t really care about people who say I have to take the whole Bible. Why? The Old Testament was put together as the theological history of the Jews. It’s got some great stories. It’s got a lot of darkness. In the end, God can use anyone—absolutely anyone—to further its purposes. God is beyond human understanding and The Bible is just another way humans try to confine God in the hopes of understanding God. There were once many gospel; each one was The Bible for its group of churches based on the disciple that founded them or the disciple’s followers. Those gospels were written to hold the knowledge of what Jesus did, said, taught. The miracle is how much they share in common—they weren’t meant to be side by side by side.
Oh, the letters.
Why are the letters taught as if they apply to every situation?
Why is Paul taught as though he hated women?
Why are the disciples preached about as though women had no place among them?
Jesus talks to and about women. Paul talks to and about women. If the churches that came out of The Reformation wanted to truly diverge from Catholicism, then why do they still teach Original Sin or Paul as misogynist or a thousand other pieces of doctorine straight from the Latin lectures of pre-Reformation Catholic priests?
I have questions. I’ve taken classes. I’ve read books. I’ve read The Bible, more than once and more than one translation. I don’t read Latin or Hebrew or Sanskrit. I don’t think it’s something my brain will be able to master. So, I have to rely on people gifted in languages and trust their translations. I think I’d have the same questions even if I could read The Bible in its original languages.
Not everything happens for a reason. How I choose to handle things is what matters.
My faith is pretty simple.
- Jesus was the divine son of God who lived and died and lived again.
- Jesus taught that the first commandment was love God through our actions and interactions
- Jesus taught that the second commandment was to love others and to love ourselves through our actions and interactions
- Jesus lived his life by helping the poor, befriending the “sinners”, opening himself up to the unloved, teaching people how to be their best selves
- Jesus also lost his temper once at a tree, but most of the time at people trying to take advantage of the economically poor or the poor in mind
- I’m supposed to follow what Jesus taught. Sometimes I fail. I learn and I keep trying.
Then there’s prayer. I pray often. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night thinking of people and I’ll pray for them. Sometimes things will be going terribly and I’ll pray for myself. Sometimes I send up prayers of thanks. Sometimes I pray for family. Sometimes I pray for strangers who are suffering.
Prayer is tough.
I don’t think God cares about my dishwasher or my garbage disposal or the leak in my basement.
I know God cares about me.
I also know that my choices, my decisions, my indecisions have a direct impact on my life—good and bad. Other people’s decisions or choices ripple near and far, impacting my life and the lives of others. Everyone suffers. Everyone gets lucky (or blessed). That’s living. That’s life. I don’t think God exists to make this life easier, but I think God can help me do a better job getting through this life. If I live my beliefs, I will be living as a better person—I will be sharing God’s love.