“All of the Bible is true and some of it happened.”
Rev Bosco Peters reviews “Religion as Metaphor”, by David Tracey
Religion as Metaphor: Beyond Literal Belief by David Tacey
I hope David Tacey’s book is another doorway into the realisation of the importance of metaphor. It rightly argues that the new atheism and fundamentalism are both misunderstanding the stories literalistically.
I regularly encounter a fear that if someone questions the historicity (or validity) of a detail in the Bible, then the whole fabric of the Bible might unravel. “You cannot believe half of it, so why believe any of it?”
Many stories in the Bible, however, are not about something that happened somewhere else at another time, they are stories about what is always happening (including here and now) – and that’s what gives them their power. The right question to ask of such stories is not: what actually happened? But: what does it mean?
More at: Liturgy.co.nz
Why biblical precepts must be interpreted with regard to historic context:
This summer I spoke to a group of teens at our youth camp. My assigned topic was, “What’s the Deal with the Bible?” I began my talk by reading this passage from the Bible. “When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.” (Exodus 21:20, 21)
Source: Christianity: A Tree Growing Up From the Soil of Scripture – Brian Zahnd
Gender is a socially constructed term that categorizes people by real or perceived physical/sexual characteristics. The word transgender is a relatively new term that encompasses a multitude of gender identities and expressions inclusive of those identities and expressions that most closely resemble the eunuchs we read about in the Bible.
Eunuchs are people who, for various reasons, live a different kind of sexual reality. Some eunuchs are that way because they are born with ambiguous genitalia. Some eunuchs undergo genital modification and are made eunuchs by others. Some eunuchs make the conscious choice to alter their own physical realities out of a desire to live more congruently with a higher reality.
In Isaiah 56, the prophet lays out the terms and conditions for living in covenant with God. He begins the chapter by saying that to choose what is right brings pleasure to God. In verse 4, the prophet says that even the stranger and the eunuch, who were traditionally looked down upon by the people of Israel, are free to live in covenant with God. In verse 5, the prophet proclaims that God’s way of righteousness and covenant is extended to all and their reward will be their reputation and legacy.
Source: The Biblical Case for Embracing Transgender by Rev. Lawrence Richardson
““And during supper…one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus.” — — John 13:2, 23 (RSV)
Friends get together for an intimate dinner in “The Last Supper” from “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision,” a series of 24 paintings by Douglas Blanchard. The contemporary Christ figure dines with twelve people, the classic dozen disciples, but they are a multi-racial group of many ages, orientations, and gender identities. An elderly black woman sits beside a white businessman. A drag queen in high heels holds hands with a man. The face of Jesus looks almost the same as when he was preaching in the temple… impassive. He wraps his arms around the men beside him. The whole group is joined by touch, and yet they are not completely united. They express emotions ranging from surprise to sorrow, and each one looks in a different direction. Plates hold food for a Passover Seder meal, including matzo bread, a hard-boiled egg, and roast lamb. A single glass of blood-red wine stands out against the drab colors, hinting at the sacrifice to come. The room is simple, lit only by a bare light bulb. They are seated in a way that invites viewers to join them at the table.
All four gospels describe the final meal that Jesus ate with his disciples before he was arrested. Biblical accounts of the Last Supper are full of dramatic details and dialogue, making it possible to imagine what happened on that fateful night. Jesus announced to his startled disciples that one of them would betray him. They were shocked again when he identified the bread and wine as his own body and blood, urging them to eat and drink their share of it. By giving new meaning to the Passover meal, he helped prepare them for his impending death He summarized his teachings on love and gave them a new commandment: Love each other as I have loved you. He prayed for believers in the present and future. He told them that the greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends.
Source: Jesus in Love Blog: Day 3: Jesus has a Last Supper, prays alone and is arrested (Gay Passion of Christ series)
“He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.” — John 2:13 (RSV)
An angry modern-day Christ figure disrupts business in “Jesus Drives Out the Money Changers.” Jesus, hair flying, overturns tables stacked with money. Coins scatter, bills flutter away, and the men in suits run. A crowd in the background yanks off the barred gate that separates them from the wealthy money managers. One security guard struggles to keep out the mob. Another officer reaches to grab Jesus by the shoulder. Jesus looks like a freedom fighter standing up against greed and income inequality. The setting appears to be a present-day church office or financial institution with statues, classic columns, and a hanging lamp.
All four gospels describe what is commonly called “the cleansing of the temple.” By some accounts Jesus kicked the money changers out of the Temple as soon as he arrived in Jerusalem. When he saw them taking advantage of people’s faith in God, he exploded. It was the only time that Jesus used physical violence in the Bible. Jesus poured out the coins of the money changers and turned over their tables. Then he made a whip of cords and used it to chase them out, along with the sacrificial animals that they were selling. Nothing made Jesus angrier than religious hypocrisy. He yelled, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.” It was one of many occasions when he blasted religious leaders for exploiting the poor. He talked more about money than anything else except God.
Source: Jesus in Love Blog
“And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus.’” –Matthew 21:10-11 (RSV)
A crowd marches under an arch with a charismatic young man on horseback in “Jesus Enters the City” from “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision,” a series of 24 paintings by Douglas Blanchard. Signs for “freedom” and “justice” make it a rally for almost any cause, from marriage equality and LGBT rights to the Occupy movement or the Tea Party. The masses adore Jesus as if he was a rock star or political leader. They stretch their hands up to him, grasping for the savior that they expect him to be. The group expresses 21st-century diversity: male and female, multi-racial, young and old, queer and straight, able-bodied and wheelchair-bound. A mother and daughter lead the way, along with a black man who holds the horse’s reins. In the middle of this “triumph,” Jesus bends down to be embraced by someone unnoticed and out of view. He is focused on something that others ignore. By passing through the arch, Jesus leaves his old life behind to meet the new challenges ahead.
Source: Jesus in Love Blog