Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Moral of the Story

When I started my blog, my intention was always to try to give as fair a reading of the bible as possible. I want to look at the good things of the bible next to the bad things of the bible and compare. Pretty much across the board I have found the good parts lacking and the bad parts to be plentiful, but nevertheless I try to give the bible the benefit of the doubt and I keep my eyes open for little bits of the story to praise. Even if the main thrust of the story is offensive in my opinion, if there is one little part that is a good lesson I point it out.

I have found that increasingly difficult to do since I have been reading the Old Testament. I have repeatedly asked myself "how can anyone read this book and see it for anything other than a horrible, horrible book?" This is clearly a bad perspective to have while doing this project, and yet all I see are bad characters doing bad things. But it can't be all bad, people have been getting meaning out of this book for thousands of years, what can they see that I can't?

So I have decided to add a new section to my bible posts, the moral of the story. In this section I will comment on what lesson is supposed to be learned from the story. Luckily, the Christian commentaries that I read almost always include something that will fit in this category. This seems like it might run the risk of overlapping with my blue text, but that has typically been checking if the Christian commentaries have responses to my criticisms. This new green text will be of a different flavor.

One final thought. As anyone who has followed my blog for very long at all will know that I get ideas like this fairly often. It has resulted in quite a few things that I like a lot and have stuck around (the podcast and the Christian commentaries for example), but there have also been quite a few ideas that didn't turn out to work and disappeared pretty quickly. We'll just have to see which category this lands in.

***Edit: Another thought***

The church I grew up in considered the Bible the divinely authored perfect word of God. Every word of it was supposed to be literally true. This is the perspective I generally take as I'm reading the bible, partly because of my background and partly because I know a good portion of the country looks at it this way.


But it's also possible to look at it more like a book of fables that are intended to teach us lessons rather than a book of things that actually happened. From this perspective, it might be easier to look past a horrible thing that happens to see the lessons one character or another is supposed to learn from the situation. This will be what I have in mind when writing the moral of the story segment.

10 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good addition. Somethings the road to heaven is paved with bad intensions...I may have gotten that wrong. I think the morals of the story are often the Christian take-aways, but even those are cherry picked.

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    1. Honestly, I think most of the morals I'm going to disagree with ultimately. If the moral is to have faith in God, or to obey God I'm clearly going to have issues with it. But I think there will also be times when a reasonable takeaway would be perseverance or something. We'll have to see how it goes.

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  2. Cool. Will the "moral of the story" addition be just for upcoming posts, or will it be retroactively added to prior posts?

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    1. Assuming it goes well, I'll most likely go backward and fill in the first 5 chapters of Exodus before the summary post comes out. If it goes really well and I like it a lot I might go back and do it for Genesis as well, although that will be a ways off still. I'm already working through Genesis on another idea that I'm adding in :)

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  3. This is going to be a nice addition as sometimes I think us atheists cannot see what theists are meant to be getting out of a story. It will also give a lot more perspective on how crazy the stories actually are.

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    1. Thanks Christian :) I hope it works out well

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  4. I think the moral of the stories is going to be, more often than not "don't believe this crazy nonsense."

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    1. Actually, this brings up a point that I had originally meant to include but it slipped my mind when I actually wrote the post (perhaps an edit is in order).

      The church I grew up in considered the Bible the divinely authored perfect word of God. Every word of it was supposed to be literally true. This is the perspective I generally take as I'm reading the bible, partly because of my background and partly because I know a good portion of the country looks at it this way.

      But it's also possible to look at it more like a book of fables that are intended to teach us lessons rather than a book of things that actually happened. From this perspective, it might be easier to look past a horrible thing that happens to see the lessons one character or another is supposed to learn from the situation.

      I wouldn't be surprised if even from this more generous perspective things still look pretty terrible, but it seems to me like it's worth a shot.

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  5. I have found that increasingly difficult to do since I have been reading the Old Testament. I have repeatedly asked myself "how can anyone read this book and see it for anything other than a horrible, horrible book?"

    My reaction, too.

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    1. The fact that it takes so much effort to find good in the old testament speaks volumes.

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