Sunday, October 02, 2005

Church Chat - Mark 13:24-31

I was born in the North, but grew up in the South. The move South was a culture shock - the biggest was religion. Meeting new people in the North they would ask me what school did I go to; people in the South would ask what church we attended. Halloween was generally not celebrated because it worshiped the devil; no dancing at school parties for fear of sexual arousal; my VanHalen "1984" was a clear sign I, at age 12, walked on the wild side, definitely in danger of losing my soul.

Now, the prospect of losing your soul before your even a teenager was enough to make you listen. And I was preached to, again and again. I couldn't play a pick up basketball game without a prayer before hand. Signs on trees testified to "watch your back, Hell is coming for you, and whooo, it's hot!!!" (This was a real sign, painted in big red letters.)

But, even at 12, I could never get over this "literal interpretation of the Bible" thing. It seemed to be an excuse to not think for yourself and it didn't make sense that God would want us to follow blindly. (Mind you, at 12 I didn't know about various Bible interpretations, political agendas of the historical and present church).

In Mark 13:24-31 Jesus speaks to the end of the world (the trump card for getting religious dedication).
"The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will
fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken."
Jesus will:
...send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds ...
Now here's the tough part, Jesus instructs:
"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all
these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words
will never pass away."
Even a 12 year old can figure that in the plus or minus 2000 years since Jesus, this Doomsday clock had expired. Now, I'm no genius, but it seems to me that if you believe in an infallible / literal Bible - if one thing CANNOT be true, it undermines the whole concept.


Otto Man said...

This is sort of how the Scopes monkey trial ended up. In his cross-examination of fundamentalist leader William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow -- who was not the black guy from the Mod Squad, Mr. Hutz -- got Bryan to admit the six days in which the universe ws created might not have been normal 24-hour days. Once he'd admitted to that, the whole argument seemed laughable.

InanimateCarbonRod said...

It's especially bewildering when you take into account that the entire book is full of proverbs and metaphors.

"So, what Jesus is saying is that a rich person can get into heaven if he can just breed a camel small enough to fit through a needle's eye, right?"

Studiodave said...

Or manufacture the world's largest needle.

Keith Richards would invest.

Otto Man said...

Why is it that people who claim to read the Bible literally never seem to get the message that Jesus was preaching? The Bible has about 3,000 messages about helping the poor, as opposed to one on homosexuality, and yet that's the part they hone in on.

Thrillhous said...

Reverend Lovejoy summed it up for me:

"Have you actually read this thing? Technically, we're not even supposed to go to the bathroom."

A few years ago I decided to be all pious and read the Pentateuch. What a bunch of smut and violence! Don't get me wrong, there's lots of good stuff, but damn there's a lot of incest and murdering going on. I don't know exactly what Ham did to Noah, but I get the general sense that it wasn't pretty.

ORF said...

Studiodave, where did you move to?? I'm from NC and while religion was far from swept under the rug, I don't recall things being quite so laced with brimstone all my life. Not even now when I go back to visit. And mine was a childhood of Jesse Helms...

As for just how evangelicals manage the whole literal vs. clearly hasn't happened yet (i.e. 2000 AD in which the Messiah was supposed to return, didn't and yet people went right on thumping that Bible) well, people will make all kinds of excuses up for something they love and believe in.

Take, for instance, a woman who's husband is beating her. Why do most battered women come to believe it's acceptable? Well, "because he loves me. He doesn't know he's hurting me and this is how he shows his love." Ahh, yes, the dispensing of black eyes, an even better way to say you care than sending a Halmark card.

My point is that people believe what they want to believe and are often deaf to anything that contradicts or weakens their argument (i.e. my husband beating me is violent and illegal) (see also: Furthermore, the Bible itself is rife with contradictions and was also "written" in a time when no one could have possibly anticipated a) the influence it would one day have and b) the confluence of cultures and technology that would seek to co-opt it. Religious groups recognize that they have to take a stand SOMEWHERE, so they do and then hope that enough people will buy into that stand that they are afforded some legitimacy in their faith.

Most people in the world need to believe in something in order to understand their mere existence. So, they take what they want from religion and put the rest in the attic and hope no one reminds them that there are dead bodies up there.