OYB for 4/5/06

One Year Bible Blog: April 5th readings

(This is actually false advertising, as this post is only tangentially related to today's readings)

The thing that really stood out to me in Deutoronmy 28 is the "curse" section. Of course, most of the curses are mirrors of the blessings from the first part of the chapter. But what really interested me is the section where Moses tells the Israelites that if they don't obey God's word to them, then they'll be reduced to all sorts of behaviors that God has earlier said were abhorrant. He specifically mentions "... serve other gods, of wood and stone" (Deu 28:36, Deu 28:64), "... you will eat the fruit of your womb,  the flesh of your own sons and daughters whom the LORD your God has given you." (Deu 28:53)

So, in other words, if Israel disobeys God's will, then among the consequences will be that they'll disobey even more! If you try to look at this logically and rationally, it doesn't make any sense. God, quite frankly, sounds a bit schitzophrenic. While leads me to the real point of this post.

As I've said before, I think it's a mistake to treat the Bible as a science or history text. That the actual events recorded there aren't as important as the meaning behind the narrative. I this is a prime example of that. This is a literary device, if you will, to show to future generations the choices faced by their ancestors, to act as a guide in making their own choices. Those future generations (us) aren't faced with the exact same choices, because the world has changed. After all, I don't know too many people who would give serious credance to someone who called for the wholesale destruction of an entire nation, including non-combatant women, children, and animals, as Israel was told to do. But we are faced with choices of how to live our lives in the presence of those who reject everything that we hold dear. (I leave it to you to decide who those others are in your case. It might even be me, for some who read this.)

I don't believe that we are called to rigidly (religiously?) follow a proscribed set of rules and regulations, but to use our minds and hearts to see beyond the rules. It's not a "safe" thing to do. After all, I have no guarantee that I'm understanding the intent at all. In that sense, rules are much easier. As an amateur actor, I find I much prefer working from a pre-written script rather than doing improv. I feel very uncomfortable with improv. A script sets nice clear delimiters on what's expected of me. And it clearly has it's place. But improv allows for a process of discovery, for the actor(s) and the audience, that's simply not possible in any other form.

I believe we're called to improv.

I believe that, at this point in history, that improv nature of our relationship with God dictates that it is our duty to act as healers for creation. Ministers in the original sense of the word: one who cares for (ministers to) the needs of others. Others look at the same world, and see a very different response is in order. Am I right? Are they? I think that the answer to both is probably "Yes, in part." That's the wonderful and terrible thing about working without a script.