INSPIRED BY RHE, CHAPTER 5 (INCLUDING THE BEAST)

Part of a series for our CWOTI study group, this session we are reading “Inspired” by Rachel Held Evans.


Resistance stories.

As I write this, the US senate is holding hearing regarding Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

And boy oh boy is it one big freaking sh*t show.

Setting aside, for a moment, the claims of those who say Kavanaugh sexually assaulted them in the past (a claim that, in my opinion, should not be ignored) his record as a judge (who never presided over a court case) makes many of us nervous that he’s more a puppet for the far right than a legitimately good choice for the bench. 

For many of us, he’s just another head of the beast that we need to resist.

Israel was no stranger to fighting its own beasts. Egypt, Assyrians, Babylon, Rome. Their tales of resistance make up much of the Old Testament. From fleeing slavery to refusing to kneel before the effigy of the Babylonian king, Israel resisted. And the leaders of their resistance? 

Prophets. 

Rather than the fortune tellers that movies and kids’ stories give us, prophets were really, above all, truth-tellers. They spoke the truth even it (and especially if) it meant spitting in the face of earthly leaders.

What we need now are prophets.

Or so seems RHE’s message in the first part of this chapter. And I can’t agree more. 

Part 2 of this chapter is a retelling of the story of Ester, focusing on the fragile masculinity of it’s male leads. A reminder that the powers that be are often nothing more than  “a frightened little kitten, insecure about its hair.”

Part 3 gives us an intro as the book moves into its discussions of the New Testament.

What are we to make then, of chapter 5.

I’ve mentioned before that RHE’s writing in this book seems to be all over the place. It seems she’s often moving from applying the Bible to our lives to trying to shoe-horn our lives into the Biblical narrative. 

And she does’t seem to so much end chapters on a conclusion so much as just kind of let them trail off. I think she misses a lot of opportunities to give us some closure in favor or rushing to the next chapter.

Like this one. There is much more she could have given us about resistance and resisting. Especially in light of our current event. Some sense of hope or action to take, but instead we get “well, they were resistors too” – which to me isn’t much hope given the history of the Jewish people into the 20th century as the ones being crushed even if they were resisting.

I, for one, would much rather like some hope from her writings.

Maybe chapter 6 has more of what I’m hoping for.

Why? Arg. (A rant and ramble) – Love Anyway Blog

Almost 21 months of this. Fast approaching 2 years. All this time with all this shit.

ARG!

Trolls. So many f’ing trolls, on the internet and in real life and just everywhere. Like in inauguration day someone gave out licenses to be an assbutt to everyone all the time.

I must have missed the memo.

Don’t get me wrong. Trolls are the price we pay for a free and open Internet and the right of free speech. If you are going to post stuff online at some point you’re going to have to deal with someone that just wants to play with your head like a kitten with a ball of yarn. It is what it is.

But since the 2016 election it’s more than just playing around. There’s some seriously messed up thinking out there being presented as viable solutions to real life problems.

Racist, bigoted, misogynistic, dangerous, messed up, dude bro, gun-licking, goose-stepping thinking.

How did we get here?

It didn’t just happen. People don’t just become that way because someone was or was not elected. There is a subculture that has been festering, spreading, oozing like fungus and the election was just an excuse for it to come into the light.

And ‘they’ accuse ‘us’ of doing the same thing, claiming political correctness is a mental illness (when in reality it’s just respecting people for what they are), claiming ‘we’ want full-blown Marxism and free marijuana for 10-year-olds and other ridiculous claims.

And ‘they’ blame Obama for dividing us, when in  fact we’ve always been divided, only now it’s louder. Talking heads on TV, podcasts, Facebook pages, Twitter hashtags…

So very loud.

And the red ball caps and the white polo shirts and khaki pants and the chanting “blood and soil” and “lock her up” while carrying tiki torches…

And they say we’re “snowflakes” and “triggered” (mocking the very serious condition of being ‘triggered’ because of an experience that has given you PTSD or anxiety.)

And they say we’re going back to a time when things were ‘great’. But what they really mean is ‘great for rich white men’. Most of them not realizing that if/when we do reach that time again that they, too, will be left behind and subjugated by those with deep pockets full of large bills that they hand out to politicians for legislation that keeps those poorer subjugated.

All the while talking about civility while not showing any. 

I. Have had. Enough.

E. Nough.

I’m past political correctness, I no longer care about civility, I will not sit idly while the world my children will inherit burns and humanity is choked to death on our own fumes of division and hatred and out of control capitalism. 

Stop telling me “don’t stoop to their level” or to “love them into change”. They don’t care about love. Or logic. When did being a Nazi become an acceptable way to be an American? And when did punching them become taboo? Jesus called out the oppressors, he chased them from the temple with a whip. How can we do less because “kum by ya, by and by”? Are we to respect the oppressive powers or are we to help the least of these?

Quit hiding behind your stained glass and some misguided idea that the Bible means we let hatred and bigotry exist. We should be leading the way in overturning the institutions that push us all into the ground. 

Ok, rant over. Carry on.

INSPIRED BY RHE, CHAPTER 4 (INCLUDING THE DEBATE)

Part of a series for our CWOTI study group, this session we are reading “Inspired” by Rachel Held Evans.


The Bible contains a lot of great wisdom. As the author puts it, regarding the Bible:

“…many of its institutions taught me to expect something from the Bible that the Bible was never intended to deliver—namely, an internally consistent and self-evident worldview that provides clear, universal answers to all of life’s questions, from whether climate change is real, to why God allows suffering in the world, to how to keep a marriage together and raise obedient kids.” (pp. 99-100).  Kindle Edition.

But it just isn’t that plain, and sometimes even appears to be contradictory.

“The truth is, the Bible isn’t an answer book. It’s not even a book, really. Rather, it’s a diverse library of ancient texts, spanning multiple centuries, genres, and cultures, authored by a host of different authors coming from a variety of different perspectives.” (p. 102). Kindle Edition.

Rachel begins with a retelling of Job as a screenplay and continues into the Psalms to give us a perspective on scripture that is beyond the cherry-picked verses we see on coffee cups and desk calendars and into the sometimes contradictory books of wisdom and laments and poetry.

I really can’t add much to what she says in this chapter because I believe what she wrote 100%. The Bible does not have all the answers. It wasn’t meant to. The wisdom it offers doesn’t apply in all situations and sometimes doesn’t even really apply to the situation it is presented in in the text itself.

I love that she uses Job as an example. We always hear ‘reap what you sow’ and ‘whatever you put out into the universe returns’ and so on. Karma. Do good and good things happen. 

But that’s not reality. Job did good things and terrible things happened. 

Many scholars, the ones who would know such things, who have studied Job and it’s language and setting, consider it to be the oldest surviving piece of writing in the history of man. Older than the stories of Genesis, ages before Abraham, older than the pyramids and the code of Hammurabi.

It could, quite possibly be the oldest wisdom in the world.

Now I don’t know if that’s true or not, I’ve never really investigated that claim. But the age of the wisdom it provides does not change what it says. 

Bad things sometimes happen to good people. And for no real reason.

If there is one ageless, timeless truth that has persisted through the ages, it is that. You can be the best person the universe has ever known and sometimes your house can still burn down and you can still be injured or killed in a car accident.

Shit happens. And for no real reason.

But in the end, it offers another bit. God still cares even though shit happens.

And that too is an ageless, timeless truth.

So let’s not forget the lamentations and the raised fist in angry prayer we see in scripture right along with the inspirational verses. God is big enough to handle our frustration. Especially our frustration as we wrestle with scripture and can’t find answers to the contradictions therein.

INSPIRED BY RHE, CHAPTER 3 (INCLUDING THE WALLS)

Part of a series for our CWOTI study group, this session we are reading “Inspired” by Rachel Held Evans.

War Stories. War. Pain. Death. Blood. Violence.

War.

The Israelites, with God’s promise of victory, with his command to take the land and slay all living things, women, children, cattle, and donkeys, went into the Promised Land and took it.

Later, in Judges, there is more violence. Young virgin girls are divided up like gold coins. Others are gang raped and dismembered.

Seriously. It’s all in there. And with God’s blessing. Or at least with His silence.

What. The. F*ck.

“If the Bible teaches that God is love, and love can look like genocide and violence and rape, then love can look like… anything. It’s as much an invitation to moral relativism as you’ll find anywhere.”

Ouch. Yeah. If love can look like anything, then people will make it anything. The God that can love your entire civilization to death, then he can love you personally with cancer and an abusive relationship and a government that wants to control your body parts.

Dude, that’s seriously messed up.

The author in this chapter is all over the place. She doesn’t seem to be able to find a path. In fact towards the end of the chapter she straight up admits that she still hasn’t figured out that to do with the “Texts of Terror” as she calls them and at the end she says that we can only see them through Jesus and leave it at that.

And while I get that, I don’t quite agree. She makes a couple of points that I feel are important:

“Israel told its war stories with flourish, using the language and literary conventions that best advanced the agendas of storytellers.”

“In other words, the authors of Scripture, like the authors of any other work … wrote with agendas.”

While inspired by God, in the end the Bible is a construction of man. And the stories told of the Israelites were written by the winners, and maybe generations after said events happened.

But again, why does God allow these stories to be preserved? Are they to be an example as some have claimed in their actions against indigenous populations in the 17th century and following? Or are they warnings? Preserved as examples of a stiff-necked people of the type of things we are NOT to do, claiming we have God’s blessing when we’re actually twisting what God said to match our own agendas?

I don’t know. These are painful things to read about and they certainly don’t match the God we see through Christ in the Gospels that says to love your enemies and lay your life down for your friends.

Chapter 3 has left me with more uncomfortable feelings than answers. If someone who has dug deeper into the meanings of these stories than I have doesn’t have a satisfactory answer for their existence, then what am I to make of them?

And what am I to do with those, in our modern age, who use the agenda of the Bible (in their own opinions) as a weapon against women, against the LGBTQIA+ community, against science and common sense?

Can’t get my brain around it. Other than to see everything through Christ and answer with patience and love.