Posts Tagged “bible”

Jonathan has challenged me to:

Summarize the Bible in five statements, the first one word long, the second two, the third three, the fourth four and the last five words long. Or possibly you could do this in descending order. Tag five people.

So… here goes…


God Speaks

Man chooses badly

Jesus restores us all

Kingdom of God is near

I tag:

Chris Hoskins,

John Orr

Shuna Dicks

Leo Roberts

Peter Johnston


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I was in Glasgow today catching up with Thomas and on the way back I passed Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA).  There was a news article the other night about their sh[OUT] exhibition, this year’s social justice exhibition.  This year the topic is lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and transgender life with a particular emphasis on Human Rights.  Along side this exhibition is Made in God’s Image, which explores the intersection of sexuality and religion from and LGBT perspective.

As you can imagine the exhibition has not been without its controversy but, despite the subject matter, the thing that has caused the most ‘upset’ is an exhibit which is a film of a woman tearing out pages of the Bible and eating them, sticking them on her face, over her eyes and ears, in her bra.  Near to the screen is a Bible which people ‘who feel they have been excluded from the Bible’ can write on.

The idea of the piece is to highlight how the Bible has been used to discriminate against anyone who has a sexual orientation other than heterosexual.

The piece was created by a Christian, Jane Clarke.

Ms Clarke said: “Writing our names in the margins of a Bible was to show how we have been marginalised by many Christian churches, and also our desire to be included in God’s love.

“As a young Christian I was encouraged by my church to write my own insights in the margins of the Bible I used for my daily devotions – this was an extension of that idea. I still have that Bible, although it’s rather tatty now.”

The Bible has been placed in a glass case now at the request of Ms Clarke and visitors can write in a blank book next to the Bible, the pages of which will be inserted into the Bible.

I nipped in to see what the fuss was about.  Inside I met a BBC film crew and Lorna Gordon, the BBC’s Scotland reporter, doing a piece on the exhibition.  I wondered why.  It has already been on the news.

Inside I saw some great art, some stuff that I liked and some that I didn’t like and some stuff that was pretty explicit.

I also saw this controversial exhibit.  I didn’t like it.  It didn’t work for me but I get her point.

On the way out I noticed a group of people…


They were conservative Christians protesting against the exhibition.  I wanted to go and ask them if they had been in to see it.  But I didn’t.

I noticed two things.

The first was the irony.  A group of religious people protesting against an LGBT exhibition commenting on how religion has been used to oppress them made me laugh then feel sad.

The second thing I noticed was the irony.  The protesters had banners with ‘The Bible is God’s Perfect Creation’ on one of them.  Again the irony seemed to escape them.  Their complaint, apart from being against anyone not being straight, is that the Bible is being defaced, not that God’s creations, people, are being hurt and discriminated against.

I like the Bible.  I have lots of them.  I’ve written on some of them.  I’ve thrown some in the bin.  I’m not worried that I’ll go to Hell for that because it’s a book, a special book, but a book.  And the minute it becomes more than that it becomes an idol.

The intention of the artist was not that people should deface the Bible.  It was that people who have been excluded should be able to write themselves back into God’s story.  That’s a very powerful image.

The Bible is not the revelation of God’s word, Jesus Christ is.  The Bible is a recording of history, law, songs, prophecy, biography and letters.  I have no doubt that it contains God’s word but it doesn’t ‘contain’ Jesus.  He’s much bigger than the Bible.

I wish these people who protest were more upset about poverty, war, famine, drugs, violence or slavery.  Or perhaps I just wish they would go up the stairs into gallery and see the effect they have on people Created in God’s Image and have a bit more respect for people who are trying to tell us something important.

[UPDATE] Roddy Hamilton has written a much better post on this over at Abbotsford

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It struck me that I haven’t blogged about the two challenges I’m taking part in for 2009.

The first is one I’ve been thinking about for a while then forgot about until it was really too late.  Flickr abounds with 365ers.  The challenge is simple.  Take a photo every day of yourself or something that represents that day.  I wanted to start on 1 January, but forgot, so I’m on picture 3 instead of 7.  Never mind.  I still aim to do 365.  You can follow my progress HERE.

The second challenge is to read the Bible in a year.  This one I did start on time but have fallen behind already.  I’ve got big chunck of Genesis, Psalms and Matthew to read!  I’m using YouVersion to help.  It sets out the Bible in small bits and you can read online, on your mobile or get the book out.  You can also sign up and journal your thoughts and share with other users.

So, those are my challenges.  Follow my progress here and on the Something Beautiful Podcast, where I’ve been promoted (at least they told me it was promotion) to co-host.

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Lawrence Moore’s brilliant lectionary blog Disclosing New Worlds is back!  A superb resource for anyone who preaches or who wants to get some great insights and commentary on the weekly lectionary passages.

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In a comment the other day Leo mentioned this poem by Kipling (not the cake guy, the other one).

The Sons of Martha

Rudyard Kipling 1907

The sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited
that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the
careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she
was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without
end, reprieve, or rest.
It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and
cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that
the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care
to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by
land and main.

They say to mountains, “Be ye removed.” They say to
the lesser floods, “Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reproved-they are not
afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit-then is the
bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly
sleeping and unaware.
They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece
and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry
behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into
his terrible stall,
And hale him forth a haltered steer, and goad and turn
him till evenfall.
To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till
death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the
earthline their altars are-
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to
restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again
at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a
little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to drop
their job when they dam’-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark
and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s
day may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path
more fair or flat –
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha
spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness
to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their
common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessed – they
know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessed, and for
them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see
how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the
Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons!

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It’s the school holidays in our part of the world and for some Indiana Jones related culture we visited The Burrell Collection in Glasgow to look at the excellent collections from Egypt, Rome, Greece and Asia.

One thing that struck me was this:

Mary Magdalene

The statue shows Mary Magdalene with the jar of perfume that she was to anoint Jesus’ head with.

The thing is… it was Mary of Bethany that anointed Jesus.  They were not the same person.  Isn’t it amazing how popular misconceptions become so ingrained in cultural understanding?

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The URC is about to enter into the first year of its Vision 4 Life project.  When I say ‘about to’ that’s obviously church speak for in 6 months.

So hear’s my tuppence worth on V4L…

I like the idea.  I think that encouraging our congregations to engage with ‘The Bible’, ‘Prayer’ and ‘Evangelism’ is a good thing but it has to go beyond that to make any difference because I’m sure if this is seen as just another bible study programme or house group then the people who usually take part in these things will take part in this and nothing much will change.

Change is the goal.  Transformation.

OK.  That sounds great.  If the bible and prayer and evangelism are anything then transforming should be at the top of the list.  If not I think we have missed the point.

I got to have a look at some of the draft ‘bible’ material the other day.  ‘The Bible’ is the first theme.  My honest opinion?  Disappointing.  Very disappointing.

For me (and that’s the only opinion I can give) the materials look far too much like every other bible study I’ve ever seen.  And the bit that’s missing is the ‘transformation’.

The questions that never seem to make it into bible studies ar ‘So what?’ and ‘How will this change my life?’.  ‘What do YOU think this means?’ and ‘How does it help you understand your life and faith?’.

Those for me are the transforming questions.  I guess you might call it ‘contextual’.  I’m a big fan of contextual bible study because it is about you, your understanding, your insight, your life.  Academic theology is important but only if it informs how people understand their faith.

Jesus did contextual all the time.  He pointed to sheep, goats, mustard seeds, water, trees, wine, bread and said the Kindgdom of God is like this.  People understood because they recognised the context of the stories.  We don’t live in the Galilee of 2000 years ago so our context is different.  OUR faith has to make sense in OUR context.  That’s why churches are empty, that’s why fresh expressions of church appear.  People need to make sense of their faith in their life or else is makes no sense at all.  Faith stops being transforming and becomes an academic exercise.

So, if V4L is going to be Visionary and For LIFE then it has to help people make the connection.

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