Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why read these poems? It's too difficult

HT Floppy Hat to Larry Hurtado's comment on the extremes in the Liberal Fundamentalist continuum. The post has a very reducible note: that both extremes share this fear: If the biblical writings are really historically conditioned they cannot be the Word of God.

Larry is right to note that this premise is false. Completely false. If you can't stand history or contradiction, don't read or do anything with the Scriptures. It is not faith to ascribe perfection to one's own ignorance. Believing by faith is a tautological contradiction that I have seen written too. It is nonsense. The record of the Bible is sense through and through - it may be in the form of a comic book or a poem or a myth - but it is fully sensual, sensible and thoroughly material and relevant to every day everything.

I can't define the Word of God but I know a change when I see it, taste it and feel it. When I am it. When I have been tagged in this game and I must play - but I am still 'it' till the game is over. I am not spiritual because of some lack of materiality in me. I hate adjectives anyway. Spirit blows like the wind and you see and hear its effects in the real world.

It is not any easier to play tennis or bridge or build well among the flowers in the garden. And who knows what I will be called to do tomorrow? (She who must be obeyed returns this evening late from England).

So why stretch yourself to bother learning a new tongue and flying half-way around the world into a war zone or studying and - what did the carnival say - 'trudging' through the Psalms?

It is because the biblical writings are so beautifully historically conditioned that they seep right into my whole body and turn me to and into that fruitful tree that is so luscious, so sweet, so consuming, so preserving, so mysterious, so discerningly critical that it just knocks my socks and sandals off. (Well I take 'em off.)  The trudging is not hard on the feet. The complexity of the sound and feel of the words is manageable again after a good sleep, or even a mediocre one.

Incarnation is real enfleshment - and calls us to more than the cerebral or the pretense. Inerrancy is pretense. Legalism is fear. Read the text and relish the historical contingency that the Holy One has entered - in you. The Holy One will be no less holy for having sullied love with experience. But expect demands on your time and a straightening out of the things that really hurt you.