Sunday, March 4, 2012

On change, with a touch of language

I must be prepared to change. And to be changed. It is all too easy to live into one's prejudices and avoid uncomfortable subjects. I am looking at a book about reading the Bible. The title is from inspiration to understanding, reading the bible seriously and faithfully. It is written by Edward W. H. Vick, and sent to me for review by Henry Neufeld of Energion Publications.

One of my prejudices is that I do not want to enter this meta-theological and meta-philosophical area. I did read both theological and devotional books in the past, but lately (in the past 20 years), I tend to take words more for granted and try and avoid getting distracted by polemics over authority or interpretation. [Recall Doug's delightful presentation of the authority of 'story' from yesterday here.]

But now, having held this 300 page book for a day or two, and having tested its layout (chapter end notes, a small but accurate index of Biblical references), and having sampled a few passages, I find some rather delightful writing in Vick's approach to a topic where disagreements often reveal fear and abuse of power. Name calling and condemnation are frequent among the religious. It is not the case here, but rather teasing out the ambiguity of language - such as sola scriptura - with some skill.

I recall a taxi ride along Sherbrooke Street in Montreal more than 40 years ago, when even prior to my engagement in the faith, I discussed with the cabbie some aspect of Christ Jesus. At the end of the ride, as I was paying my fare, maybe $1.15 - a very good lunch in those days, he said to me "Oh but I didn't get to tell you about the horrors of Catholicism". I think I knew immediately that this would have been driving the wrong way on this particular street. Eventually, after some years of confusion in the piazza of life, I just stayed away from these streets of parochial attitude. But the attitudes have to be addressed, and Vick, it appears, is stepping into such a difficult area of explanation with some finesse, and I have found myself smiling that he might be giving words to my spirit that saw the one way, sens unique sign on the cabbie's street.

I am not without attitude today - I just may not be aware of it. I expect to have more interaction with this book - and contrary to Oscar Wilde's comment that he never reads books he has to review, I do intend to give this a faithful read and I will report further when I do.

[With thanks to Sens Unique for the sign.]