I’ve chosen this week’s Bible passages, as it’s essential for any extended comment on the Bible to face up to the fact that there’s a great deal in it that’s incredibly difficult, when judged by our modern standards. We can’t ignore this, but it’s a powerful argument for not taking the Bible literally. If we reject homosexuality because it’s called an abomination in Exodus 20, but we then choose to turn a blind eye to the instruction to put homosexuals to death, then are we taking the Bible literally? Surely biblical literalists should, in order to maintain their argument, be campaigning for the death penalty to be introduced for homosexual acts? This small example highlights the impossibility and stupidity of the biblical literalist arguments.
In my last post, I urged the importance of creating time and peace, to allow God to talk to us individually through the Bible. In this post, I want to look at the nature of the Bible and tackle some of the pitfalls we should try to avoid. My final post will give advice about which readings to start with, where additional help can be obtained and summarise some basic principles. Please do stick with me through this most important of topics!
Over the months, an increasing number of my readers have told me that they’re reaching out for something, but they’re not quite sure what. These are people who have no tradition or background in Christianity, but they feel that following their experience of COVID and lockdown, something important seems to be missing from their lives. They’re reaching out for God, perhaps, rather than for formalised religion, and they don’t know how to make progress.
I was recently reading about early exploration of the Arctic and I found myself mulling over a most interesting fact: Scurvy was a massive killer of sailors and others serving overseas in the eighteenth century. It’s believed that between 1756 and 1773, the Royal Navy enlisted 184,899 men (they were all men in those days) and over the same period, 133,708 men died in service, ‘mostly’ of scurvy.
I wonder whether, like me, your friends or family have referred to the last eighteen months as ‘strange’? When I first heard this, it struck me as a rather odd choice of word for the period of COVID restrictions. But the longer I continue to see apparently fit young people wearing masks in the street, or even sitting alone in their own cars, the more apt the adjective seems to become.
Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a blog about giving gratitude for the English Countryside in summer. At that stage, it was warm and sunny and our garden was full of butterflies of many kinds. This year has been so different. I can’t remember a colder spring than 2021, and many of the plants in our garden were scorched by a heavy wind-borne frost well into May.