Sunday, May 30, 2010

Food for thought on a hot Sunday....

Wow. Two things to think about today. Huh. I went to church and I watched a movie, and both prompted thoughts.

First, church. The passage was Colossians 2 and the speaker was talking about the infomercial pitchman of the day in Colossee, and how Paul countered the gimmicks. It held together well at points, but others were definitely a stretch. However, near the end it was interesting that we were told that Paul was telling them to weigh everything by the Scripture and not fall for all they are hearing from the religious leaders. I agree with that. But the interesting part was we were told that Scripture trumps tradition, and experience, and rules. I find it ironic that we can see this to teach it, but our evangelical churches don't see the fact that they are guilty of this very thing! So much of the teaching we have grown up with is often taught and retaught and not weighed by the Scripture. And not necessarily because it contradicts Scripture, but because it isn't even part of Scripture. We have made it so by interpretation. We take the teachings of early leaders of the evangelical movement as our Gospel. Why? Because somewhere along the line someone decided that was the truth. Yes, to be fair, the interpretation was likely based on Scripture in that persons mind. Their interpretation. And perhaps it wasn't far off base. But it grew and morphed like a cosmic game of telephone and we often don't really know why we do what we do and why we believe what we believe. It's the lazy way out. We do so because we've been taught to. Because it's always been accepted as "gospel." And so as I listened I saw the irony, and also grasped the fact that the majority of Christians will never ever question anything or think about anything any differently then has been spoon fed to them. And in the very preaching of the sermon the tradition taught as truth has been perpetuated.

This afternoon we watched The Invention of Lying. The premise is that no one lied - ever. Everything said was truth. No lies, no self censorship or tact when speaking. Everything was out there. Until one day the main character told a lie and because lies had never been told before everyone believed and trusted him. Ergo - his word was truth. He learned how to use it for his gain, and how to spin a story. And for awhile it was good. Until one day he was sitting at the bedside of his dying mother. She was afraid to die. And so he lied. He told her not to be afraid that she would go to a better place when she died. Where she would be happy and have a mansion. People marveled that the man had this knowledge. And they sought him out to find out what else he knew. He embellished heaven - much as we think of it today. And then people wanted to know about "the man in the sky" and he made up more stories. And made a persona for this good man who ran everything from the sky. He caused and cured illness. He caused tsunamis. He caused financial windfalls. The good and the bad. He was the puppet master. And the myth kept growing. And then the people wanted to know the rules. The main character writes down all he "knows" of the rules on pizza boxes and addresses the crowd with these "tablets." He talks about good and bad, sin and lack there of. How many bad things one is forgiven of (three) before they go to the horrible bad place instead of heaven. And then people want the rules interpreted down the very last jot and tittle. They want everything spelled out for them so they don't do it wrong. Is it intent that makes the act a sin? And on it went.

I saw this as an interesting social commentary, first as the way men see God and religion. Stories made up and passed down. Panaceas to soothe the soul. Smart men should realize this is a bunch of hooey; that a much smarter man capitalized on this when he realized he could and that he was able to greatly benefit from it. And secondly, it speaks to the way some things have been addressed in evangelical circles regarding all aspects of Christianity. The rules, the traditions, the stories - which is which? Which are the stories and which are the truth. And that brought me back to the message of the morning.

I'm still processing it all - there is much food for thought here.

Spinning merrily.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I've been chewing on many of the same questions. Two books that helped me, the latter particularly, were The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels and The Gospel According to Jesus by Stephen Mitchell. Both are respectful, enlightening, and accessible explorations of the Bible. If you find your questions pressing too heavily, I think you'll find some relief in these books. (Read Pagels first, then Mitchell. :)