Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Immersion


The best things of life are really only learned through immersion. Drowning in something is always the best way to learn about it - assuming, you know, that you don't actually die in the process. For example, I had four years of Spanish classes in high school and another year in college. The problem is that I still can't really speak Spanish. I normally can't understand it either when someone speaks to me. I can sort of read it - I can usually understand two of every three words and put the rest together like a puzzle.

If I really wanted to learn Spanish there is only one guarenteed way - to move to Mexico or another Spanish speaking nation and actually live there. I'm sure my Spanish would improve exponentially as I tried to swim (stay alive, not drown) in a new culture.

Five days ago I decided that I would immerse myself in the Bible in a new way. I decided to plow through at a somewhat reckless speed to see what I felt like on the other end. I don't think this is the best way to study it, nor do I think it is the best way to meditate on it. However, it may be the best way to drown in it. I set a goal of ten days to finish. I have certainly read other books of that length in ten days, so I am not sure why it feels so difficult. Today is day five and I have just finished 1 Samuel. (I'm behind schedule, but I do have a four hour flight scheduled on day ten, which is my Ace in the hole.) I have to say that from Adam to Saul the story is really bloody, often harsh and filled with strange supersticious activities. It is exceedingly clear that Yhwh does whatever he wants, to whomever he wants, for whatever reason he wants. He kills a lot of people and everytime he does, I recoil from him. His people cannot seem to ever be faithful to him regardless of what he does and that bothers me too. The heroes are, for the most part, a little prickly and severly flawed. It is without doubt the story of a god who claims to be The God and his people, a homeless nation called Israel. I find it interesting that The God seems to care a whole lot more about menstration, poop and fungus than other things. He doesn't seem to be overly concerned at all with monogamy, for instance. I told my wife this and she stared at me like she tends to do when I get like this. He does seem to care a lot for displaced foreigners, barren women and oppressed people.

Today I came upon David and he feels a little different than the others. He seems to be experimenting with grace, particularly toward some of his enemies which has gotten me all excited and ready to be a pacifist again. He also seems to be trying to love Yhwh instead of just trying to obey him. I find that interesting as well.

I'll shoot you an update in a few days somewhere in the Psalms or Prophets. It is strange that I know exactly what is ahead of me, but I have been ruthless with myself in reading the text as if for the first time with new eyes to see the story in a new way. Here's hoping for some great new revelation in five and a half days...if not, maybe just the joy of having drowned in a collection of 66 unique ancient texts and being able to live to tell about it.

2 comments:

Greg said...

Hey Joe
That sounds great. Good luck on the 10 days thing though! Yikes!

But I love the big picture idea. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on who God is through the whole story we have collected in the Bible. "Experimenting with grace" was a cool choice of words for David. He obviously got something right (and it certainly wasn't "keeping the rules" ...) since God called him a "man after my own heart".

Have fun swimming...

Kris said...

Id say, no procrastinating... I am expecting a full report on DAY 10!
Words like grace, and poop are really interesting to me at the moment!
I hear the study on James is blowing folks away! Keep up the great work...you are doing something right! Ha Ha...and to copy Greg, Have a great time swimming, I will be anxious to hear about the adventure...
Have a safe trip, to where ever it is you are going...