Saturday, July 31, 2010


One of my go to blogs is by Rami Shapiro. Rami is a rabbi who has a wonderful sense of humor, a sharp mind, and a keen sense of religion in the modern world. He writes a great deal about his own tradition - he is a rabbi - but much of what he says has clear implications for my tradition as well.

In a recent post he wrote about the problem for Jews when the historicity of the Torah becomes suspect after all but the fundamentalists had already given up any sense of supernaturalism in the text. You can read his blog for his brilliant take on his tradition.

As for mine, we have similar problems. Karen Armstrong speaks of religion as poetry. The truth is that far too many Christians experience religion as prose (and not particularly good prose at that). How many times have you heard someone refer to the Bible as an owners manual for human beings as if you could look in an index and find entries for how to deal with horrible life events on page 436, or "insert tab A in slot B" under sex? As Rabbi Rami says, we need to read the text with imagination. We must see the text as the sweeping story of our ancestors struggling to make sense of their experience of life and of the Holy. Their story is our model, not literally and directly but in what they sought and what they struggled with. Then it becomes for us a vital and living word, relevant to our daily experience and challenging us to figure out God's yearnings for all of humanity in the context of our daily lives and daily experience. Then it becomes poetry... read not as simple instructions but as deep and evocative images calling us forward as people of God.

1 comment:

Keith Watkins said...

Roy, your progression--story, model, vital and living word, deep and evocative images--is a useful way of depicting the way scripture can be used today. Although I don't have a word to use in its place, I am uneasy with the choice of "poetry" at this point. I will continue to meditate upon these matters. Thank you for your contributions to these discussions.