Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sheepish mocking of the faithful, part one billion

There's an article in the paper today about a local Bible and Prophecy Conference ( If you think my subject line is corny, their headline is "Devout Flock to Conference," so I'm in good company with the professionals.

Apparently, the main crux of the gathering is that Christians today aren't enough about the Bible. Hey, I go to church every Sunday, and it's Bible, Bible, Bible! And this is a fairly liberal mainstream congregation. Still, that's anecdotal evidence. Here are some lines from the article: a participant praises churches when “They stick with the Bible and only the Bible." They disapprove of the fact that "nonbiblical practices are being allowed to come into the church," and that there is "a deviance from the Bible as the guide for the faith."

They say this like it's so simple, and easy to know what's "biblical," and what that means. Look at the Ten Commandments: a teeny little portion of the Bible, but one of the few things that is actually labeled as unambiguous word of God. (All that requires a lot of assumptions to be made, falling under the category of "begging the question," but never mind. Let's posit for argument that we believe in this God and His supernatural powers, and that Moses got this stuff directly from him).

That's just the freaking beginning! Every bit of it is subject to interpretation. Thou shalt not kill: kill what? Whom? When? Under what circumstances? How is that squared with the OT (Old Testament) God who was ordering his followers to kill, in war and for punishment, in the same book?

And that's just a handful of verses. The Bible is a huge, complex collection of diverse writings with diverse viewpoints compiled over uncountable years and subject to a large amount of political manipulation.

Just to be difficult, I'm including a link to the Conference's "Statement of Faith":

There really isn't anything here that can be clearly and unambiguously pointed to in the Bible, which I'd be totally cool with, but they're the ones saying they're so totally grounded in the Bible. Their beliefs can be supported by a verse here or a section there (especially when you start interpreting end times prophecy, or life-after-death stuff, or even that "personal Jesus" business we're so used to hearing about was a late interpretation that someone came up millennia after the fact. A lot of the early forms of Christianity that got stamped out, and a lot of the medieval heresies, had beliefs more biblically based than these ones.

By the way, I'm reading June McDaniel's Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal (you know, because), and came across this line last night: "There is no Bengali or Sanskrit word for sect or denomination." Right up my alley. And a very peculiar alley it is, I always say...

Listening to: the Ram Jaane soundtrack. Pump up the Bhangra!! (Of course, "Ram Jaane" is translated as "God Knows," so my soundtrack is more appropriate than I realized when I sat down this morning).


Anonymous said...

After you commented on my Ram Jaane post, I came stiffing back here tho see what you'd written about the move and was happy to find this. Nice post yaar.
All the best!

Anarchivist said...

I haven't actually put my beloved Ram Jaane under the microscope yet. It ought to be done!