Am I the untouchable (touch one)


There was an experiment.  Removing road furniture.  Signs, lines, lights, different functional surfaces.  All the paraphernalia of keeping drivers safe from drivers and pedestrians safe from drivers.  The everyday stuff that makes sure each does not “interact” with the other.

I look around at all the road furniture where I drive and imagine how I would drive – how I would pedestrian – differently.  How I would live a more gentle life.  One that “knows” we can all live together peacefully.

But I see all the road furniture.  It is how we choose to live.  I watch pedestrians wait.  I watch drivers ignore them.  I see drivers pushing in.  I see other drivers offended.  I see drivers checking their phones.  I see pedestrians immersed in theirs.  I see us all insulating ourselves from each other.  We have all the rules of road furniture.  We don’t need to interact. We have been taught not to interact.

I wonder about “sacred texts” more and more.

We cannot move back to a time when there were never any sacred texts to invent.  But I wonder whether we could move to a place where we might put them down.  Just as an experiment.  Whether we could stop fighting about what “he said” or “she said” (but mainly about what “he said”).

I love my wife.  She loves me.

But we can really fall out over “you said”.  Because the response is always “no I didn’t”.  And then pantomime takes over.  Except it is something our children should not see.  It is always painful.  It is repairable.  But repairing damage costs.  There is always a cost.  And we have only been doing that for 30+ years.  The “pantomime” of sacred texts has been going for hundreds and thousands of years.

Schools and colleges.  Universities of sacred qualification.  A conveyor belt of fluctuating output of those qualified in the sacred.  And the pantomime continues.  “He said” followed by “No He didn’t” …

The debates.  The arguments.  The splits.  The tradition.  The one way of doing it – even though there are many sacred ways of doing it, there always just seems to be one way: “The way we have always done it around here”.  No matter how not the same as another way – it always comes down to … “That’s the way we do things around here”.

What if we found a place without sacred texts?

Would we still wish to insulate ourselves from each other?  Would we still need to prove each other wrong?  Or might we, as we look up from our favourite verses, see each other for what we really are?  Might we become aware not of our differences but of our similarities?  Might this faith so sought by the faithful be found not in sacred texts – but without sacred texts?  Might sacred texts be as much the problem as the preached solution?

Take the bible.  The Christian bible.  Of countries which call themselves Christian countries.  Not like Muslim countries.

Pantomime alert …

They have god but we have God … They do things this way but we do them that way … They have got it wrong and we have got it right …

Walls are walls.  It’s just that these walls don’t need bricks.  We have built them in our heads already.  Heads that need sacred texts.

Would heads without sacred texts revert to having to figure things out together.  Heads that might choose to deconstruct these walls once “we” found that they were not protecting “us” – but that they were damaging “us”.  Perhaps even controlling us.  Making us lazy.  Causing us to accept “stuff” without question.  Or to ignore “stuff” without justification.

Because more and more I wonder …

What if the Christian God never intended the Christian bible to be written?  What if the Christian God is not Christian at all?  What would be the point of being a Christian then?  And would you be able to – would you even want to?

And what of your Muslim brother who put down the sacred text?  Would you still be a Muslim, would you be able to – would you want to?  And what of your Atheist brother?  Would you still be an atheist if christians and muslims no longer were insulated from each other or you?

What might such a place look like …

A place without sacred texts?

 

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56 thoughts on “Am I the untouchable (touch one)

    • Thank you TF. Someone made the comment that “I don’t know” is hardly ever used in conversations about God. I don’t know why that should be 🙂

  1. All it would take for the sandcastle to crumble is for Jewish scholars, archaeologists, and Rabbis to stand together and step forward and officially, as one, be brutally honest and tell the truth by revealing that the Old Testament, and especially the Pentateuch is nothing but historical fiction. In time, probably quite quickly in fact, Christianity and Islam would have nowhere to go.
    The moment that the foundational religious tenets of Judaism are publicly acknowledged to be little more than Cultural Judaism then Christianity and Islam are basically left rudderless.
    As it is, Mainstream Judaism by and large already acknowledges the Pentateuch is little more than fiction and privately the majority of Jews lean more toward cultural Judaism rather than being genuinely religious.

    But will they all band together and come out? Probably not for now, Too much politics.Which is od when you think about it as it would likely reduce the ”politics”.
    When will there NOT be too much politics? Sigh
    But it would be nice if they did, don’t you think?

    For a kick off, all bets would be off regarding stupid divine claims over Palestine. A political settlement would have to be sorted out.

    And imagine how this would impact Jerusalem?
    All the years fighting over nothing more than make-beleive bullshit. All the walls wpuld soon come down …like Berlin.
    And the Nazareth Project would likely grind to a halt too. Frakking good riddance too! Spend the money on housing, and schools.

    To paraphrase Chamberlain: ”Middle-eastern peace in our time”. It would be nice wouldn’t it?

    And what a wonderful bonus …. we could usher a large part of Abrahamic God Belief out the door.

    Can you smell that? Aaah! It’s the beginning of a supernatural free world.

    And we could write a brand new sacred and very human text.

    And it would start …

    In the beginning … again.

    • Missed the reply box and added a new comment by mistake. Here is what I intended …

      LOL!

      “And we could write a brand new sacred and very human text.
      And it would start …
      In the beginning … again.”

      And – I suspect – result in the same place “again”. But if you are volunteering – I would be happy to offer an opinion (which is how it would all start again).

  2. “We don’t need to interact. We have been taught not to interact.”
    The late, great poet James Baldwin once said that ghetto high rises were purposely built to separate people and keep them from being neighbors who interact. I believe that’s true, and then the notion spread to upper class white urban areas. Now we have the internet, where we are not only NOT neighbors, we can be as cruel and malicious as we want with total anonymity.

    Sacred texts are not the answer; they are only an excuse to condemn and accuse.

    Love is the answer.

    • Interesting thoughts, Susan. And yet it also means we can be kind with total anonymity as well. The more these posts become words, the more it seems it is not the text, but what we choose to do with the texts. My curiosity is moving towards why we need them to be so factually correct (or factually incorrect) – how did that happen?

    • I have made friends with people across the globe. Met one or two. Found my publisher online and we became friends. These are, in the main, people I would welcome into my home with little if any hesitation, should they be in the neighborhood and I would hope this would be reciprocated.
      Not Paul, of course, as he might try to convert me and I couldn’t spent all the time he was here with garlic around my neck or whatever it is you must wear to ward off Christians.

      Thus, I have ”neighbours” in Brazil ,France, Argentina,States Canada, England Australia New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland and there are probably more.

      My brother in law is a continental truck driver and travels all over Europe.Or as he likes to say: They pay me to be a tourist!

      As we work from home and thanks to Google ,we ride with him almost every day.
      This past weekend we have ”driven” from Italy, through France and we were on our way back to Portugal when he had to stop.

      My immediate neighbours either side are a research scientist, and his wife who’s in charge of the primate house at the zoo, A lady who runs a catering business specializing in samosas and her husband who’s a bonsai tree specialist.
      Sadly, he supports Manchester United so I have marked him for Hell and simply refuse to talk to him.

      Sacred Texts are excellent as a substitute for reality or if you have a dire need to believe in made-up deities as an excuse to send people to hell or chop off their heads or stone them for being gay or cut off their foreskins or beleive dinosaurs were once vegetarian.

      • “Not Paul, of course, as he might try to convert me and I couldn’t spent all the time he was here with garlic around my neck or whatever it is you must wear to ward off Christians.”

        I would love to convert you to being kind when you embark on deconverting us converts. 🙂

        Arguing someone into faith is as futile as arguing them out. I have “argued myself” back in to “something”, and you continue to argue with that something. But as I like garlic and marmite, but not Manchester United too much (try “having to” follow Newcastle Utd because you were born there!), nor sacred texts that I am taught are immune to question …

        Never say never!

        • Sadly, a religion like Christianity may claim it’s all about love, but any ”parent” that supposedly requires worship …. or else, is not worth the time of day.

          • That’s the thing…He doesn’t require anything from us, and those who say He does have sadly got it wrong.
            I won’t argue “religion” with you here, Ark. I will simply say that Jesus never wanted anyone to start a new religion; he wanted to change a paradigm.

            • And which Jesus are we discussing, Susan?
              It is incumbent on you to be specific.

              You see, it really is very important that this point is laid out first and foremost.
              Once this is done, then we can have a discussion.

            • The Jesus I believe in. I know you don’t believe in his deity; I do. And I know you well enough to know you want to challenge me. All I will say is it is my belief.

            • No problem with that Susan. NO problem whatsoever. And yes we have crossed Light Sabres on occasion, 😉 and you will know that I consider it is your absolute right to believe whatever you so wish. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone including yourself.
              And I hope you extend this right to everyone else, including and especially children, and expect no special privilege over and above that what is extended to every other person because of this right.

              Are we in agreement?

            • I think there are more of us than you realize. Many more simply grounded in unconditional love are beginning to speak up and tell the truth about it. And we need them to now more than ever in this uneasy climate.
              Thank you for this very respectful conversation.

            • So, if I may, if I were to ask you what type of Christian you are -assuming you are of course – would you be able to describe yourself, and how did you arrive at this if not for the bible?
              And for that matter, how do you regard the bible?
              Also, as a Christian, how do you square away knowing that ideologies found in other more militant approaches, be they of your own faith or others, must surely clash eventually?

              PS.
              I know Paul moderates my comments and he has his finger on the buzzer already, so …

              Ease up there Marshal Dillon! This ain’t no showdown pardner … Well, not yet.

            • I kind of thought it might be…. kind of.
              But I have to let fly now and then. Some of these Internet Crispyans are enough for me want to burn myself at the sake so help me god (pick one)

            • Some of us “Crispyans” is what I was some years ago. And you many years ago. I look back and think I am glad I was not burned at the stake then. And even though I can be called a Crispyan now, I am glad you and I met.

            • Okay, I will answer your questions with one caveat. I won’t engage in argument; I choose to answer because I think you are truly curious, not because you think they will give you fodder for argument.
              First, I don’t call myself a Christian, but a follower of Jesus. That may be splitting hairs to you, but to me the distinction is this: I have found many in the Western world who call themselves Christians simply use the title, but do not ascribe to the calling. For me, it is important to follow the commands of Jesus in order to honor his position in my life. His commands to love our Father by loving all our neighbors, each other and our enemies may be discomforting for some, but that is what we are called to do. In addition, we are also instructed not to judge others, and obviously this is the very first instructions many Christians ignore.
              As for militant ideologies – of course they clash exactly because they are militant – because they have an, “I am right and you are wrong,” dogma. Jesus was a radical who railed against dogma, and it’s clear in everything he said and did. Which is again why I call myself a follower, not a Christian.

            • Fair enough.
              And you are correct. I find the diversity most odd as well as fascinating – all the individual interpretations.

              So, I suppose it’s logical then, that you do not attend any form of Christian church in that case. Do you basically do your ”own thing” as far as fellowship/worship, praying and what have you? Or get together with a few like minded friends?

              May I also ask what your take is on the bible?
              How do you view it as a whole?
              Do you consider Jesus is the same god as in the Old for example?

              If you feel uncomfortable with any of these or feel you are being interrogated just say so.
              No probs.

            • Well, you’re right about all the different interpretations, denominations, etc… and I believe all those are about attempting to make God in our image.
              I tried several times to attend church like a “good little Christian,” 😉 however I kept seeing the incongruity of the words preached with actions. I wouldn’t say I do my “own thing;” again, I do my best to follow what Jesus said. My fellowship is with an online church of like-minded people, which is why I said before there are many of us out there. More and more we are writing publicly about what Christianity is supposed to be about in light of the three-year ministry of Jesus: love, grace and forgiveness without judgment.
              My prayer life is individual; I have a list of people I pray for and frankly, I don’t do it often enough. But it’s one of the things that keeps me connected to God. I talk to Him day and night, and feel as though I’m never alone because of Him. It brings me to tears when I describe the ways my relationship with Him has transformed my life. I know that others don’t understand it – even Christians don’t understand the depth of my love, but it’s something that can only be deeply felt in the midst of this unconditionally loving relationship.
              As for the Bible – I’ve gone round and round on it over the last ten years of my faith, but have finally come to a solid conclusion on it. Let me recommend a book that informs my take on it – The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns. It’s probably considered heretical by most, but it makes absolute sense to me.
              And no, I didn’t feel uncomfortable with the questions. Again, feel like this is a very respectful discussion. Thank you for asking, Ark. I’m really feeling heard by you, and I appreciate it.

            • As you didn’t say what your biblical solid conclusion is – and that’s okay – I guess I shall have to look up Enns.

              Or look Enns up, even.

              Never read anything by him, but his name has come up a number of times.

            • Okay … just read this …
              http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pete-enns/3-reasons-why-apostle-pau_b_5942792.html

              .. and one of my problems, and I can immediately see where many Christians will be confused, is Enns’s use of the phrase
              ” Paul read the Bible out of context.”

              You see it?
              Bible.

              He use similar phrases throughout this piece and one can, therefore presume his phraseology will be similar in other related pieces.

              When a Christian reads the word bible, he/she will immediately think New T including the gospels.

              It was my initial thought until I caught myself. Enns does not make the distinction but simply plows on, without once using the word Torah.
              Unless I missed it?
              And even though he cites Deuteronomy and Leviticus and even Hosea, the impression still carries that Paul is referring to THE bible rather than the Torah.

              Maybe I am nit picking, but if it initially caused me to pause and say hold on a tic… what is Enns saying? Then maybe others might be confused a bit too?

              Also , Enns discuses Paul’s interpretation of Exodus without saying anything about the fictitious nature of this text.

              I read his Wiki page and it seems he suffered at the hands of strict evangelicalsin a similar fashion as did Mike Licona, once upon a time.

              All the same , on a first reading, I am still a little dubious of this bloke.

              I haven’t yet even come close to working out his brand of Christianity and I must be honest, this piece ( selected from the top of the list) did
              not impress me that much.

              Am I missing something? You obviously know the bloke’s work a lot better than me?

            • Ark (and Susan) -based upon what I am seeing here, your comments will no longer be moderated for now. I hope this helps the conversation between you.

            • Hope it’s okay to chip in …

              I prefer the full title: “The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It” And far from being heretical, I think it should be compulsory reading for every Christian – along with some of the gems you have put my way.

              You mention a reference to “the bible” and why no distinction. My own reading is that (back in the day) there was only the Old Testament (the NT not having been scribed). And – whether Jesus actually spoke “those words” or they were ascribed to him later – the “Bible” was the same “bits” you expect to be used in those days. Unless I am missing something that might be a point of agreement! 

              But more than that – for me. How wonderful to not have to continue defending the indefensible! How wonderful to be free to come to know the essence of so many “religions” that have been hidden from view in all the rituals and individual “agendas”. How liberating to love without having to worry about who or why. How connecting to be able to freely “worship” with you, Susan, Wally, Tildeb, that fella I confused as an atheist but isn’t … with and anyone and everyone. Not worship of a specific “size, shape and form god” – but in love and community.

              In something that IS real. Living and loving.

              (and an explanation: I call love “real” in all its chemical, hormonal AND mystical forms. And if the mystical troubles you – then let’s stick with the chemical and hormonal).

              And as for the afterlife stuff? My own view is that love always seems to triumph over death. I have read enough blogs here which keep alive a departed one to see that as real as well. As for the “size, shape and form” of that afterlife … that seems to be to be a pointless argument.

              BTW – Mel referred Peter Enns to Susan – who referred him to me.

              As always – beyond religion comes a very individual “faith”.

            • In the spirit of kindness – that is “him” and he did write it. And it is a similar thread as in the book. Just expanding on a point or two (is my reading of both).

            • Thanks for explaining, this Paul.
              So, therefore, as open (liberal minded?) as this bloke might like to suggest he is he still hangs on to some very dubious beliefs biblical passages.

              If anyone is claiming veracity of the Exodus I consider this a Red Flag right away.

              And I think it is really worth pointing out once more that his use of the term ”bible” when referencing Paul’s use of the book is misleading.

            • Hi Ark,

              This where reading his book would come in handy on the Exodus comment. Because in this blog he is talking about Paul – a supersized chunk of the New Testament. And while he is talking about Paul’s reading of the Old, he is using Paul’s written interpretation of the Old – not necessarily his own. This link talks about Peter Enns’ “theological correctness” and Exodus. It might help your criticism (until you read the book).

              http://www.credomag.com/2015/12/08/what-about-peter-enns-exodus-commentary-timothy-raymond/

              As for the of the word “bible” – yes. It is difficult to avoid “jargon” when speaking to those (primarily) you know “know the jargon”. Thank you for pointing that out.

            • The problem I have with people like Enns is that he seems to be desperately trying to hold on to his faith when the more he researches history, archaeology and science etc the more the structure/foundation of his Christianity becomes untenable and the ability to compartmentalize is ever more difficult for him.

              It was for this reason that archaeologist William Devers deconverted, or simply allowed his faith to fall by the wayside; the physical evidence became so overwhelming ( and in some case complete lack of evidence, of course) he just could not retain any serious measure of honesty and integrity when faced with so much scientific evidence that flatly refuted biblical claims.

              This is why there is an element of , how can I put this – ”Well -intentioned dishonesty ” to Enns’s approach. And he is not alone , of course.
              I am amazed that from what I have read of/from him, Shelby Spong still calls himself a Christian at all.

              At some point in all this ”interpretation” the question has to be asked:
              If you can acknowledge the fictitious nature of Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark and the Exodus why on earth do you give any credence whatsoever to the resurrection of a human being, the evidence for whom is so parsimonious we can , with justification, consider the chracter non-existent?
              When Enns has the integrity to address this question with the same degree of honesty as the Old Testament ”tales” there is only one path he can follow.
              And you can bet your bottom dollar it won’t be ”following Jesus”

            • Ark, “incumbent” is a need – yours and not Susan’s. But you know me, ever helpful …

              I think – as we are “in the bible” the answer is incumbent of your question. 🙂

            • I think the beauty of it is that God doesn’t really ‘need’ us in our worldly sense. Yes, we need Him, but he only ‘wants’ us to love Him. Any real parent would understand that. NO one desires others to be forced to love them. God is a free spirit and grants us the same. There isn’t any thing like it in the world for with Christ, we are put on equal footing. And that’s because Jesus said we were his friends and not his servants.

          • Ark, for someone on holiday it seems not to have lifted your spirits 🙂

            You have spent some time telling me the bible is pile of poo. And yet you continue to repeat your disgust for a “bible parent” (who supposedly) doesn’t exist with consequences (which supposedly are fictitious) for non-worship (you seem to assumed are standard throughout the world). You are writing like a disgruntled “Christian” – one who believes but wishes he didn’t. And we all wish that from time to time.

            But each time someone like me agrees with the sense of your words – you need more. If you could put down the garlic for a while, trust that I wasn’t going to “convert you” in some sneaky way – we could pretend to be normal blokes. With a similar “religious childhood” and different set of choices as we grew older.

            • Though it galls me, at times, I feel obliged to use language that those who read can relate to.

              If we are talking Bible… it truly is very little but historical fiction, and archaeology continues to hammer (and trowel) home this point time and time again, simply but by digging in the dirt.

              So however I may come across to you, trust me on this, I prefer reality.
              There is not a smidgen of Christian faith in me.

              Of course I know you are not trying to ”convert me”.
              You’d have a better chance with Lucifer …oh, wait a moment, he already does beleive does he not? Silly me.

  3. Ark, “incumbent” is a need – yours and not Susan’s. But you know me, ever helpful

    No, it is incumbent , as in responsibility or duty, of Susan to spell out exactly which Jesus we are talking about.

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