Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Darwin!

As you already know, I am religious (uhm, most days) and trained as a scientist, had I been able to put all that literature down and really care about the vestigial components of the bird wing I'd had have my nerdy eye pressed to a microscope right now.

I am contemplating if Darwin's theory could affect how we interact with the Bible. It's almost like when the Bible was first released, like what.... 2500 years ago or so, we came to it as a 9 year old. Our adolescence, then, would be when Darwin released the Orgin of the Species in 1859. Or something like that, work with me here. We were rebellious teens, pimply faced, sneaking out late at night with a flashlight to see what was so scandalous about this book (the Orgin not the bible - although there are some stories in there the likes of which you find only Jerry Springer). But now we are adults, and as adults, our access to the a ridiculous amount of information and history and facts requires that we move to a sophisticated reading of the Book and the world and our place in it.

What would a sophisticated reading of the Bible look like?

I never have ever tired of the classic 'What would Jesus do' as a moral guide, but - alas - it has been shown (uhm, by me) to be too easily co-oped by the ego. It doesn't have the construct to really inform you, against your own desire, of a more caring way to handle that moment of questioning.

So a sophisticated reading of the Bible, means that it is possible that everything that is written in that book - and its hundreds of translations - may not have taken place (Bill Maher loves to hark on the talking snake ad nauseum right?). It means that all the values espoused may not be right....okay, the xstain pc phrase would be - the values espoused may not translate for our cultural moment. Whatever. If we could be honest with ourselves and admit that!! Admit that Lot giving his daughters up to be gang raped by the mob to their deaths to protect the mysterious house guests (later revealed as angels) is not a morally perfect story. It simply is not a morally instructive story, it requires that we say some shit was wrong there and not feel as thought the entire Bible - the xstian religion - our moral fiber does not meet its destruction at that exact moment.

I could go on, and I will.

It means that it is a ridiculous ideal for a man to have 600 wives. Biblically lots of women are portrayed as smart and are often the saviour of the hard headed men - but for that intelligence to be relegated to manipulation, mental and sexual (uhm, Ruth), in order for them to have access to power and stability because of oppresive patriarchal (and wrong) notions of what women are, or rather should be, is a crime! On a day to day level espousing this man over woman ideal is a dangerous and incompatible to our ideals of equality. At its most dangerous it leads to emotional and physical violence against women; at the very least it leads to women not being taught the hard sciences as rigorously as men and a lack of women's presence at the higher levels of fortune 500 companies. Clearly this isn't a referendum on women's intelligence but on the idea of where we believe women should be...

So lets bottom line this....

Is it possible that a sophisticated reading of the Bible and its moral teaching would require us, as adults, to see where it was correct in its moral dictum's and where, alas, it was wrong?

If we could admit that it..may.. be wrong it would allow us to 1. admit that there are somethings it says and stop trying to pretend it says something else (women are the second sex, it is wrong to be homosexual, the earth is only 7 "god" days old) and 2. have a complex conversation about what jesus would really do and open our communities to the best representation of that vision of equality.

jezuz, it's what he'd do!

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