I’ve been revisiting the subjects I majored in. For some reason I suddenly found an uncommon desire to explore assorted areas of theology that I’d put down many years ago. Maybe, when the student is ready the teacher reveals them self? It’s been a good week with some interesting perspectives coming to the fore. The thing is, that those interim years haven’t just past. No, they have added to my life experience, changed some of my views, led me down a number of paths I might not have explored if I had maintained my focus on theology.
There’s no wasted time or experience for the student who is open to learn. It all adds together to enrich the tapestry that’s your life. And we bring all that experience to whatever we chose to focus on in this moment. Our perspectives change or evolve.
So here I am again reading theology and thinking. Thinking a lot. One of my favourite past-times.🤔
All of this ‘perspective’ we bring to our understanding of Jesus and the Gospels along with a number of other presuppositions and from here we form our understanding of Jesus and his mission. Now I’m thinking, maybe, just maybe, we’ve got a lot wrong because, well, if we don’t understand 1st Century Palestine, or Pharisaic Judaism or what it’s like to live under an occupying force or to be raised to believe you are a part of the Chosen People, how can we get it right. Yet, in all our ignorance we have believed we understand what was being said and done 2000 years ago.
Something has caused me to reconsider Jesus’ background and mission. The things that led to the climatic three years that Christianity focuses on. Have you ever thought about how Jesus has been presented to you over the years. I remember the first ever Bible I possessed. It had pictures. Obviously someone knew I was more likely to look at a book if it had pictures. There was Jesus and I clearly remember that he was a white Caucasian male with blond hair. That’s the image I carried with me for many years. That’s the image that plagues the western church. Think of art down the ages. Da Vinci’s Last Supper where the whole gang are so obviously Europeans! Rachael’s Transfiguration, Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement, and on. Seldom ever a painting of note that depicts Jesus as a Palestinian, tanned skin, dark hair. Even Zeffirelli’s 1977 epic, Jesus of Nazareth, had a light skinned, blue eyed Jesus.
Have you ever sat in a church and just wanted to say “No”.
In fact part of the reason for my departure from the Church was the intransigence of people who refused to hear a different reading of the Bible. To have questions brought to their understanding. Legitimate questions. There’s a scene in C.S.Lewis’ The Last Battle when Aslam, Lewis’ type of God, views a group of dwarfs who sit in a circle, backs turned on the world and refuse to hear anything from the outside. “The dwarfs are for the dwarfs” they incant and so miss the presence of Aslam. That is how I have come to view some people. A “This is what we believe, this is what we’ve always believed” attitude. So I left.
“Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and are so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out’”The Last Battle
Now here I am unpacking 1st Century Palestine with a fresh view established by years away from the environment I grew in. I’ve got rid of the blue eyed, blond haired Jesus. I hope I’ve got rid of a lot more. I’ll let you know as I unpack the story afresh. God is an amazing adventure and we expect no less.
Yours, forever the rebel,