For the past few weeks I have been drawn to put down the bible and leave it closed. And something odd happened …
But before I say what, let me ask you something. As a Christian, you will have sat or stood and said:
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen”
And where does all that belief come from?
I have written posts of my own journey of faith and doubt, of relationship and distance, of questions and certainties – and of finding nothing was off-limits.
The bible began that journey as “taken for granted literal and factual and historically correct”. Through the journey that same bible has become not-literal and not-taken-for-granted. And yet despite that shift in belief, my relationship with God Soft Hands Jesus grew stronger.
And as my journey took me further away from being a Christian, my relationship grew stronger, and also made me a not-Christian with GSHJ. A not-non-believer on the way to being a non-believer but who wasn’t.
Do you realise that both believers and non-believers don’t argue over “God” (or God Soft Hands Jesus as I know that name). Both argue over the bible. The God of the bible. The proof and evidence of the God of the bible. The “taken for granted literal and factual and historically correct” (but not really) God of the bible.
And in putting down the bible and leaving it closed … I found I had less and less to write about. I began to realise that without the bible I sounded like anyone else. I had good days and bad. I saw goodness and non-goodness. I heard, felt and breathed life as an ordinary human being. Because without looking at the bible every day, or every week, or every few weeks … part of me was missing. The part that hears words and writes words. The part that communes with something we all have in common (or at least those who regularly read the bible) – the bible.
And an email from a dear friend tonight allowed all these disparate thoughts to connect.
Who is my relationship with? Is it with a living breathing entity I call GSHJ, or is it with the bible? And if the former – why this drift to “normal”? And if the latter – how is my relationship any different from those who live with the characters of Star Trek, Harry Potter … any fanzine enthusiasts feeding on “secular” words and images?
Because this post – and these past weeks – have been a journey without written words. And yet this post is still about the bible – the absence of the bible. Weirdly, this post still has the bible at its core.
Don’t you find that a little odd as well?
The journey with a closed bible (for now) continues …