Saturday, December 13, 2008

We Make the Noises

i have been recently called an agnostic-Christian. i've been told that I have no business behind a pulpit and that "I'm responsible for every soul i lead astray by not teaching the gospel." To this I say "The only thing i have is my personal responsiblity. I'm responsible to the gospel and my interpretation of it." That's the whole point!


We all have it, we all use it... why? Because the Bible doesn't SAY anything! it requires us to read it and interpret what it means to us.

i'm reminded on a joseph campbell story about a tribe in australia whose social order was maintained with the aid of bullroarers. those are long flat boards with a couple of slits cut in them and a rope tied at one end. they are swung around over one's head and the low humming sound is other worldly. when the gods were angry they would sound the bullroarers in the woods at night... no one in the tribe knew this of course. the males of the tribe would explain why the gods were angry and what behavior had to change.

in the initiation rite of young men into manhood in the tribe is very violent and bloody. it's culmination is the revelation to the boy by the cheif priest of "We make the noises"

and we do. however i tend to look at the similarities and the shear fact that you and i are here on this planet... as it could have been otherwise. we are made of stardust and tied to the universe. life on earth is very linked and intraconnected. authoritative claims take away this connection and the church has been a large part of this.

so this leads me to think that there's something behind it all... some higher order behind the chaos. i call this something God. which leads me to a different take on the incarnation... what if we are the incarnated universe trying to figure itself out?

so with that in mind we're called to wrestle and figure it out not make super vague claims like "Jesus is the answer PERIOD" like the fundamentalists or say "There is no god" like the stalwart atheists have in my experience. in my experience, i feel that both the fundies and the atheists i've talked to are inherently ignorant about this take on spirituality. i could be wrong and i'd be more than happy to be!

we are making noises to try to understand the infinite. we are putting up boundaries on something that cannot be bound and what we place there should only be looked through into the grand divine.

You can make all the dogmas and doctrines you want, the divine won't be contained.

It's knocking over fences, crossing property lines.

related posts: SVS on 'aChristians'- Yes I coined it...

KT's excellent Poem in her post Where Should We Go? pretty much sums up this rant.


faithlessinfatima said...

Good post Luke...agnostic Christian...that's a handle I can resonate with...maybe another new term-agchristian with respect to achristian

"We make the noises"...yes,yes and yes...I hear that,esp. from those who think God wrote a book...we may see thru a glass darkly,but narrowly is our choice...the mystery of existence is almost enough to bring me to my knees,butI'm beginning to think that the narrative(the myth)we build upon that fact,and is not that what religion is,is primarily the responsibility of every soul,if not the most imperative.Long live the iconoclasts.

Anonymous said...

I love it. RAWK to use your words. I used to be in that fundy camp, thinking I had God all figured out. Man how blind I was. I have not been labeled an agnostic Christian but rather a heretic. And I gladly join all the "aChristians," "agnostic Christians," etc in the fight. I've noticed your Free Jesus logo a couple of time. So true.

RJ said...

Great song and great post. After my little midrash re: john/jesus I had a woman follow me into the NEXT TOWN to argue. She was concerned taht I wasn't being fair to John the Baptist and that I was misleading the congregation with my interpretation. Now, dig this: she told me this in the 2 minutes between ending a Taize worship and leading another Bible study on Marcus Borg's "First Christmas" stuff. So, like, what could I say?

So I listened... and waited and then said: You know, my point was simple. If we're called to embody Christ in our generation, then the way of John is both polarizing and harsh. And the world doesn't need more polarization or harshness. So, even if I tweaked the texts - and I did - what do you think of my point? She looked at me like I was from Mars.. and then smiled and said, "Yeah, I think you may be on to something..." and left.

Keep rawking, Luke. Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

"You can make all the dogmas and doctrines you want, the divine won't be contained." (Luke)

I think interpretation is part of the key - how one lives these ideas is the fulness of that 'key' - realized interpretation.

I have many thoughts on many things within scripture - concering Jesus, God, the Trinity, and the bible itself - but those things - mean nothing to me. Someone suffering a divorce does not care what I think about Jesus being God or not - that has no bearing on anything from what i can tell. Interpretation is part of the problem - focus is another.

The fundies have it all wrong - not because they can clang around the loudest - but because the bells they are ringing are useless. They defend the faith based in orthodoxy or doctrinal statements of their denoms - and those things make for fun talk concering this mysterious God - but produce nothing more than 'clanging bells'. The focus is messed in this faith.

Its a matter of interpretation - but its also a matter of focus. I dont personally care what someone thinks about Jesus (messiah, liar, lunatic, not God, God, etc) - but what they do with their life. Do they have the teachings and background to sustain their marriage? Have they learned how to say 'sorry' when they offend? Can they make situations 'right' that they broke? Etc.

If there is good news about the gospel it seems to be:

Repent - the ability to humble ourselves and make changes

The kingdom of God/heaven - ethical standards that can direct and guide our lives

Is at hand - the time is now for the enactment of those teachings - we cannot wait for the next life (we don't know if we have one).

That's the good news in my opinion - we can change - and we have some teachings and God that wants to guide us there.

Cody said...

I'm still processing this, but thus far, I'm a huge fan.

RJ said...

Luke... on another matter entirely, thanks for the Coldplay song. I just listened to it and it helps... you are a blessing.

OneSmallStep said...

**i have been recently called an agnostic-Christian. i've been told that I have no business behind a pulpit and that "I'm responsible for every soul i lead astray by not teaching the gospel."**

It must be great to have that much power. Share some!

In seriousness, I never understand that comment. God must send people to hell because you've convinced them of something contrary to another belief?

Luke said...

"Interpretation is part of the problem - focus is another." -SVS

wow! i'm getting this tattooed some where on my body, you pick where.. well i would if it wasn't prohibited in Leviticus ;-P

"I never understand that comment. God must send people to hell because you've convinced them of something contrary to another belief?" -OSS

i think i have a clue.. ""The test is rudimentary: if I am a knower, I am open to correction; if I am a believer, I resist it" (James P. Carse, The Religious Case Against Beliefp.60).


In fact, it is full of such inconsistencies, contradictions, lacunae, obscurities, baffling tales, and poetic imagery that to quote it at all is to select from conflicting alternative passages. Every quotation is therefore necessarily an interpretation. For this reason, a "literal" reading of the Bible is not a reading at all but an arbitrary choice of one passage over another, and a putting it to use of saying what the reader has already decided it should say (although that is also an interpretation, merely unrecognized as one by the reader)" (p.200).

makes a little more sense to me. this was pulled from which is just a wonderful post that i recommend everyone read. your thoughts? does this cover it?

Sally said...

You have as much right to the pulpit as any of us Luke! We disagree on interpretation all the time but who's to say which of us "has it right".

I will say that I think about James 3 a lot lately though.

3Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters,* for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.