I was talking with a friend the other day and that person was telling me that it had been difficult to get into the Bible lately but talking to God had become easier. I thought this was kinda weird at first, that old fundamentalist part of my brain was kinda pissed at the idea, and then I thought about it and stopped being an idiot.
There is this really interesting thing about books and writings and such. We think they tell us stuff, but really it isn’t the writing that tells us anything, it is our inner translation and interpretation of that writing that tells us something. Someone who doesn’t suck at writing can consider this and try his very best to communicate his ideas to the reader, recognizing that those ideas will be filtered through the reader’s own ideas.
You might think this is a small thing, but it isn’t. It’s actually a pretty huge thing. If you don’t believe me, just read about this super famous, super lame poem, called The Red Wheelbarrow. In spite of the fact that it is composed of only 16 pretty straightforward words, it still somehow is confusing as shit to anyone who reads it and there are lots of very different interpretations of what it means: from life depending on perception, to the importance of machinery. Seriously, look it up, it’s wicked dumb.
This is how, in the early days of America, they could say they followed a constitution that granted equal rights to all men, yet they still had slaves and beat their wives. It was all about how they understood what it was to be a human (which they thought meant being a white man or owning land or killing all the buffalo or something). It totally changed the way they understood the Constitution and rights and all that unimportant stuff. If you wonder how so many laws can be in place today that seem to go totally against the Constitution, then look no further than the power of interpretation. The Constitution has NO power. Power rests with the people who, by law, are set up to tell us what the Constitution means, and they basically have the power to say it means whatever they damn well please, and they do, and it changes depending on the culture of any given time.
So, back to the whole Bible thing. The Bible may be completely true and all that (I believe it is), but that does not mean that what we think it says is completely true. I said authors that don’t suck are better at thinking about how their writing will be understood and make considerations for that. Well, here’s the thing with the Bible, it was written a long damn time ago to some really different groups of people with some really different problems, in some really different languages, so we can excuse them if their writing might lose something when translated and interpreted by us.
“But,” I can already hear you saying, “the Holy Spirit tells us what the Bible means!” And there is the whole point. The Bible, without God speaking to us, is basically just a pile of paper and ink (or maybe pixels on a screen, if you’re into that stuff). This has lots of implications, at least to me it seems to. Maybe it says something about where we go for answers? Maybe it says something about Bible worship? Maybe it says something about talking to God? Maybe it says something about how strongly we hold our “Bible based” opinions? I don’t know, I just think that it might be alright to say, “I’m finding it difficult to get into the Bible but I’m finding it easier to hear from God.”