Friday, September 23, 2011

Biblical Worldview?

I have a big problem with the term, The Biblical Worldview. It assumes that whatever reality or truth is out there, we somehow have to justify it or connect it to the Bible. As a Christian, I think this is a shabby use of scripture, which consists of particular books written by particular authors with particular intentions. What if I believed that the literary forms are also inspired? Then I would have to take Genesis as myth/poetry, gospels as testimonies from individual perspectives, epistles as letters to particular people and Revelation and prophets as apocalyptic metaphor and social commentary because these are the types of literature they are, and were originally received as. I think it is the product of Roman imperialism and Greek philosophy that seeks to totalize and universalize the sacred texts, then distill them into dogmatic formulae. I think that is not only a shabby way to read them, but also a lifeless, dull way, and, well, irreverent. "One ring to rule them all" type of thing.

Part of the emphasis of the Reformation was that the Bible applies to all of life. But that does not take into account that the "all" in life, such as humanly created institutions, and theologies that support them, are not in themselves Biblical, nor did they even exist in Biblical times. In particular, the Dutch neo-reformed theologian, Abraham Kuyper, propagated the idea of a pillared society, upheld by the various institutions of family, church and state, and many smaller ones. This is the way the Christian dominionists in the USA view society, by trying to take over each of these "pillars" for God. It's just another "manifest destiny" if you ask me. Fascist to the core. I mean, what if we went and applied the Bible to the Hindu caste system. Does that make it "biblical"? Hell no. You can dress up a skeleton in different clothes, but it's still a skeleton. And it's still dead.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Am Sick of Hearing About the High Calling of Motherhood!

Kenya 2010 Planting Vetiver Grass

Don't get me wrong, I completely agree that motherhood is a high calling. So is fatherhood. But, like so many catchy phrases, it is often used to mean something beyond it's face value. It's often a coded way of saying that motherhood (and read between the lines, cook and cleaning lady) is the only appropriate employment a woman may have. This is a relatively recent myth, perpetuated among a certain class lucky enough to live on a single income, because throughout most of the world, and throughout history, mothers and fathers have had to work beyond their houses. But the world was much friendlier towards having children accompany their parents. Mothers would wear their babies to the fields or forests to farm and gather, and they would be in the company of other women and children. When boys were old enough, they could accompany the hunting parties with the men. In these hunter gatherer societies, however, home was the village, and much time was spent together in community life: making tools, preparing food, singing and telling stories around the fire. They were also mostly egalitarian. Although, for practical reasons, men and women had some separate roles, the aged and elders of both sexes shared their wisdom and helped make important decisions for the tribe.

I don't want to give the impression that I naively believe that hunter gatherer societies had a perfect life. But as we move forward in time, it is good to remember what we may have lost along the way in our scramble ahead. And to think about how we can get some of it back. The modern exaltation of the nuclear family has its drawbacks. It isolates women from their communities, families from their aging parents, neighbors from one another, and people from the land they walk on together. By having one or both parents work long hours away from their children, the current corporate economy also contributes to the breakdown of both family and community life.

I think the remedy must go far deeper than keeping mom shackled to the home. Mothers, as much as fathers, have a multitude of gifts they wish to share with the wider world. And fathers, as much as mothers, need lots of time to spend with their children in order to develop strong relationships and community values. And the land! The land is so tired of being trampled on, built and cemented over, and polluted by our mindless consumption. If you don't believe me, take some time, go into the woods alone, and just listen. Quiet all defensiveness, and just listen. Look at every detail. It does not take rocket science to figure out that if you keep extracting from a limited resource, and do not return what you take, the resource will run dry. I don't need any politician to tell me that.

So let's work together to re-imagine and recreate a new kind of economy, and a new definition of home. Let's treat the earth as God's house, which was made so that we would all dwell together as one family. Remember that the holy city with streets of gold comes down to earth, and it is a metaphor of the Bride, the people of God, who are living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. We are that city. Let us open the gates wide and invite others to sit down and eat together at one table, each sharing with all the gifts we have been given. Let's practice an economy of Jubilee, where debts are forgiven, slaves are freed, and the land is returned to the laborer. Let's equip all with tools not for building ladders to reach the top, but true tools for conviviality.