Friday, June 23, 2006

The Great (Theology and Wallpaper) Ripoff

Here we go again: UPI Column

I'm frustrated this morning about everything. I get cranky like this several times a year. Between too much work, getting ready to go to California next week, painting and de-wallpapering, and some online conversations where my thinking is about as clear as the goop on my walls, I feel like one mango short of a brain smoothie. My column probably expresses some of that frustration pretty accurately (though I really don't want to keep writing the same song, second and third verse). Change is coming...

What I really wanted to post about is not my frustration in my own pitiful little world, however, but rather... did you see Dwayne Wade? I mean, Damn, he's good! I was rooting for Pat Riley and the Heat. Great to see Gary Payton get a ring, finally. Indeed. Shaq warmed my heart.

On the golf front—my heart goes out to Tiger for his first ever sympathy applause at the US Open.

And my stomach cringes for Phil Mickelson. He must be having that recurring nightmare of slicing into the trees.

More soon! (After all this wretched wallpaper is really gone and the paint has dried...)


TiaDavidandOurLittleChickens said...'ve got a double post today so I'm not sure which one to leave this comment under. Guess I'll go for it here. I found your column this morning so easy to relate to! See, I'm smack dab in the midst of a growing friendship between myself and a Mormon (or, as she preferres, member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints). I'm asking curious questions in an interest to understand where she is coming from, what she considers sacred, essential, etc. Thanks to many years of TD experieince, I'm a little more well-versed on how to listen respectively and wait to pass judegement on other theological views! So I'm learning more about what makes her tick and setting aside my tradition's view of what her religious really is so that I can really hear her.

And this morning I just woke up so tired for her. I'd just stayed up late last night reading about their Garments (sometimes disrespectfully referred to as holy underwear) and their abstinence from coffee/tea. I've spent hours with her thumbing through not just the big old KJV but ALSO three other books of what they consider to be scripture. She knows all of them well, better than I know my bible, and she's got an incredible abilty in apologetics.

So why am I tired? Because through all of this, I sympathize that on a hot day she's got on layers of clothing, one of which is to "ensure" she'll dress modestly on the outside, and her success of living the christian life hangs on it. If she's tired, she can't go get a cup of coffee to get through a day of homeschooling, because how she lives the christian life hangs on it. There is little mention of the historical Jesus, though they do have a refreshing approach to a female presense in the God-head and the sanctity of the family.

In short, (and what about this is short LOL), is that they spend so much MORE time with other prophets, other writing ON TOP OF what is already a complex canon and history that it just makes me want to sit and sigh.

And get really, really simple about Jesus and Grace and Life.

julieunplugged said...

Lol! Glad you found the right entry. I had been deleting the double post as you commented.

Isn't it interesting how we get windows of insight when we look into someone else's tradition? The image of layers in clothing is powerful... one to really think about.

Jesus, grace and life. Words to live by.


Matt said...

I agree with you about the Heat -- it was a great series for them, and I'm glad that they were able to win it. Payton, Mourning, and several of the others have worked for a long time to get this, and they've certainly earned it -- and it was great to see Wade have such a break-out series.

And as a lifelong Celtics fan, it's nice to see something take place that sticks it to the Lakers and Kobe (he could win three with Shaq, and oddly couldn't win one without him)!!!

Have a great trip to California!

julieunplugged said...

Hi Matt. Thanks for spelling Payton correctly. I just caught my typo on reading your comment and corrected it.

I grew up in LA so I'm a longterm Lakers fan back to the days of Magic. That's why I was rooting for Pat Riley. But I understand wanting to stick it to Kobe if you are a Celtics fan, for sure. :)

I'll be around for one more week. We leave on July 1 for two weeks, the first one in Catalina! :)


Matt said...

That will be a great vacation. Let us know if you're ever up towards D.C.!

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

Too bad you didn't come to California this week. We are experiencing a big time heat wave. It was 89 in San Francisco the other day and near 100 in other parts of the Bay area...and...Bakersfield may reach 110 sometime this week-end...I was rooting for Dallas. What a collapse. I too am a lifetime Laker fan but not particularly fond of Pat Riley. People forget he lost as many championship series as he won with the indifferent towards everyone accept Payton. I think it really came down to experience. Dallas had too many players who had no big time finals pressure and it showed the last four games...But did really enjoy the NBA playoffs overall this year. Alot of great games...Have fun in the sun next week. I'm heading up to the Bay area myself next week to get out of the heat....

Kansas Bob said...

I hate wallpaper for the very reasons you mention ... but I also like wallpaper because through it you can add color, texture and design to a wall. I guess your (underlying) wallpaper issues revolve around the idea that you feel that you can't depend on the manuscripts of the gospels to be historical.

Here is something that I read concerning the gospel of John:

"the earliest piece of Scripture surviving is a fragment of a papyrus codex containing John 18:31-33 and 37. It is called the Rylands Papyrus (P52) and dates from 130 A.D., having been found in Egypt. The Rylands Papyrus has forced the critics to place the fourth gospel back into the first century, abandoning their earlier assertion that it could not have been written then by the Apostle John."

It seems that, unlike the vast majority of historical documents, we have pieces of gospel wallpaper that have survived a very long time. It seems that your arguement revolves around the issue that we do not have the very first layer of wallpaper ... you feel that the 2nd or 3rd layers (copies of the originals?) are inadequate to piece togther a historical Jesus.

julieunplugged said...

Hi K Bob.

I saw that you cited the Rylands Papyrus in another post somewhere. Thanks for posting it here.

My textbook called Understanding the Bible by Stephen Harris dates John to about 90-100 C.E. as well for the reasons you cited. Apparently, however, there is no mention of John in connection with the book (tradition doesn't cite John as the author) until 180 C.E. (before that date, church writers do not even mention the Gospel's existence).

After that date, opinion of its authorship is divided. Some believed it to be written by John the apostle, others doubted and still others thought it written by Cerinthus, a Gnostic teacher. There is even some speculation that another John (prominent in the church of Ephesus circa 100 C.E.) wrote the book.

I am far from a scholar that can argue for or against any of these positions. I do, however, find the process challenging.

My goal isn't to find the real Jesus as in "Will the Real Jesus please stand up?"

Rather, I am interested to understand the development of the traditions, the communities that preserved Jesus's memory and the evolution of Christian practice and doctrine ever since. That's what holds my attention. I feel less inclined to make a decision about what is accurate than I used to.

Thanks for bringing this up!


Kansas Bob said...

I guess that my point in citing the Rylands Papyrus was to point to historicity of the original texts. That said, I agree with you that texts like this one are often skewed by the religious traditions of somewhat ancient religious communities.

Some think that a lot of secular, as well as religious, history is fictional and not credible. What do you think? Using your wallpaper analogy, is it impossible to discern the patterns of the original wallpaper because there too many layers of paper covering it?

julieunplugged said...

Great question.

Certainly the texts we have do give us lots to consider about who Jesus was, might have been, what the communities who followed him thought about him and more. I would never mean to say that we can never get anywhere in our studies or readings of the Gospels.

Where I have changed in how I think is that we must hold those definitions with gentle hands, with humility and less confidence that we have the "true" or "right" picture.

I hope to blog in future about some of what I have discovered in my readings of Scripture that have shaped how I see Jesus.

Kansas Bob said...

This is a great statement and worth repeating ...

"we must hold those definitions with gentle hands, with humility and less confidence that we have the "true" or "right" picture."

... the heart of fanaticism is the idea that we have 'the truth'. The converse of fanaticism is apathetic indifference and is rooted in the idea that 'the truth' is unknowable.

Thanks Julie for trying to find the middle ground.

julieunplugged said...

K Bob, I like the way you showed the two extremes of fanaticism versus, perhaps, apathy/indifference... or perhaps a general paralytic agnoticism.

I am hoping to find a place where I can stand, even if tentatively with a willingness to stay always open to other places others stand.

E. M. Forster has some great stuff to say about all this and I will see if I can dig it up and post it as a new entry on the blog.