I trust you are well and enjoying this lovely weather.
I have been thinking about something that I observed the other day. I was walking home and there was a father and his son in front of me. The little boy was probably 6 or 7 and he had a cold. I wasn’t really paying them any particular attention until I realised what had been said. The little boy had asked his father when he could expect his cold to get better and the father had replied; “When you start behaving yourself”! He then presented a small list of things that qualified as “good behaviour” including eating all his tea, not making a mess and so on.
At 6 or 7 when your parents are probably still gods to you, you believe this stuff. So here is a child who is being led to believe that sickness is tied to his behaviour and whilst I’m sure you’d point out that certain gross behaviours do have possible consequences and basic hygiene helps to improve ones life, not putting away my toys may bring illness into my life. Really?
My question in this letter is: “How often are lies used to trick people into certain types of behaviour? How is people’s ignorance used to others advantage?”
We both know that the Bible can be made to say most anything we want it to say. I am not an authority on the Koran but the fact that extremist groups can claim their actions are the will of Allah whilst millions of muslins condemn these acts as not a reflection of what true Muslims believe causes me to think the Koran can be being used in the same way as the Bible.
Fear is a powerful tool and can be applied to achieve the desired ends if used correctly. It’s an age old tool. It is used to get 6 year olds to do as their parents want, apparently, and it is used to suppress whole nations and deflect responsibility on to chosen victims. A reading of the history of the Jewish people in the last 500 or 600 years proves this as many have used them as scapegoats and created a common enemy for the people. And how often has religion used this tool to advance itself? I recently read a book by the late Rachel Held Evans who recounts how, after an extremely religious upbringing, she eventually began to question the things she had been told. Has God condemned all gay people to hell? Are certain people more favoured by God because of their skin tone?
The so called Christian church has historically used the Bible to support slavery and at the same time, to support a war to end slavery. To support holy wars and to advocate pacifism. In recent days the long held belief on the second rate status of women has begun to be overturned by a fresh reading of the texts and we now have women priests. A few examples.
Do you look at life through rose coloured glasses. I crushed mine so I could see the truthTrudy Vesotsky
We bring to the Bible and other religious text our own opinions and experiences and have so often used these as the lense through which we read and draw our inspiration. How true the saying: “We see the world through rose coloured glasses” except all to often the rose colour is replaced by misogyny, racialism, homophobia and more. If you want to treat women badly the Bible will help you do it. If you want to live in harmony with all people on an equal footing, the Bible will help you do it. It’s all there or should I say, it all sits with you and me.
I heard a tale told by an eminent minister who believed God had directed him to start a new type of church. He was on a plane and busily writing down his plan for the new creation. Coming to children’s work he pondered and then asked (I think some would read prayed at this point): “What sort of children’s work shall I have”. The reply came back immediately, to his shock. God responded: “Why don’t we see if I can run the church”. He tells how he tore up his notes, abandoned preconceptions and dared to let God speak.
Dare we let God speak? Dare you and I come to the Bible without our preconceptions, if that is possible. Can I hold up my strongly held opinions and be willing to have them proved incorrect. We’ve agreed that God speaks, loves to speak, always speaks, for those who will listen. By reading religious texts we can form and justify beliefs without ever hearing from God. Then we claim we have been instructed by God because we read it in “His Word”.
The Bible may be called “The Word of God” and it may be held inerrant but I suggest it is only so if it is God who reads it to us.
Yours, trying to see the world for what it really is,