When I was a child I knew what eternity was.
It was anything that lasted longer than I thought it should. When I was a child rules were what you had to do … punishment happened if you were caught being naughty. Even as a child I “knew” that the rules didn’t everything – that “being naughty” covered many unspoken infractions.
Just as I knew love was not a consequence of doing.
Love was for ever and always. Love was “just love”. Like breathing – it just “was”. And sitting here writing that, I don’t how I knew – I just did. Love was living. It was getting up in the morning and going to bed in the evening and everything in between. It was the nightly check dad always did to make sure we were sleeping. It was the arguing between mum and dad without either of them leaving us. It was the “good luck” we said to each other when mum yelled from downstairs for one of us in her angry voice.
The rules were just rules. Love was just love.
And as I got older I began to fight with the rules. Eventually “the (mum and dad) house rules” caused me to move out of our home. And as I have grown older I have found that I picked up some of the house rules, I adapted others, and have left untouched those that never worked for me.
As far as I know we call that growing up – a desirable maturing. And as for love … ?
Unlike my parents, most people don’t “just love” me. And I cannot “just love” everyone back. I found that “rules and love” get a swishing around in a big cultural mixing bowl. And what comes out is love with rules: how to love, what love is, what love is not, what you can expect form love … all of that.
And we call that part of growing up as well. Something normal and desirable. With hindsight (only with hindsight and the experience of love with rules) I call that fear.
So I have a question about the bible as it is taught.
Why do we teach a bible that gives love rules? A bible that says you, Paul, were born a sinner. And to be loved you have be forgiven for being a sinner. You can not do that by yourself. It can only happen if you die to self(??). To be loved you have to be something we say you should be. And to prove you are, you have to believe the rules. Because love is what the rules say is love. And the rules are what we say are the rules. Those are the rules. And unless you obey the rules he will not love you like he loves us. And you will fry forever (imagine that before you tell us to go to hell for our “beliefs”).
How grown-up is that? How loving is that? How “not of this world” is any of that?
After six decades of being around the bible as it is taught …
We seem permanently stuck in a “childlike” time-warp with the bible that we believe is desirable. And those teachers who teach have to learn a new language that is inaccessible to anyone else. But as part of that training are also taught to “dumb it down” for the rest of us. Except the “dumbing down” usually comes out as:
“Don’t go beyond the threshold. Obey the rules and stay with us. Don’t go beyond where we tell you. Scary beasts live there.”
Imagine being brought up as a child that way: Don’t speak to anyone but us, don’t go outside the house, don’t travel anywhere, don’t explore anything, don’t do anything without all of us agreeing it is okay to do. Because scary beasts live out there.
I hear so often from Christians everywhere “we are in this world but not of this world“.
But I rarely hear that religion/faith/denomination – the bible (and all sacred texts) – are of this world. By the very fact that there are rules we each have to accept before we are accepted … THAT is “of this world”. Which makes us believers – by default – “of this world” as well. Which makes all the rules – of this world as well.
And doesn’t that mean we should each take ownership for what we do with the rules? Because isn’t it the case that – in everything else of this world – that is considered both normal and desirable. Until we come up against: “Because the bible says so”.
Because the very clergy, teachers, shepherds, leaders … who will teach the bible are tested in their belief of the religion / denomination that will train them. So before they are even trained, they are tested in their “calling” (i.e. does the applicant believe the same beliefs, and what has the applicant done with those beliefs – and what will the applicant do with those beliefs). And if the “applicant” fails that test of discernment they are not accepted. And at each stage of the training they are invited to leave if they discern they are shifting in their beliefs. So unless those beliefs remain ingrained and intact they do not complete the training. Which means that if they do pass the test of belief – and continue to pass the test as stated at each stage of the training – and complete the training …
What else will they teach (and why would anyone expect them to teach anything else)?
Except we are ALL taught to call that “freedom” and “not of this world”. And why …
Because the bible says so.
“Catch 22, Paul.”