Monday, July 28, 2008

Rereading the Bible

Overall, the preaching of scripture that I have heard and done over years and years comes from a perspective incompatible with the mystical contemplative Christian spirituality into which I have been called. A objectivistic, individualistic, materialistic perspective. Scripture as a guide of what to do, what not to do, what to think, and what not to think. Sermons as patting-ourselves-on-the-back or smacking-you-in-the-butt.

As a contemplative I consider scripture primarily as collected, inspired spiritual wisdom: scripture should offer us insights into ourselves and should offer us transformation at a level deeper than our “to do” list. Because of this view, I mostly favor the poetry and stories of the bible, and I center my theology around certain mystical passages like I am in my father, my father is in me, and I am in you and I pray that you be one, just as I and my father are one. Sadly, many other passages--for example, passages that describe how we should be in contrast to how we should not be--now “do nothing” for me. Gratefully, however, I have discovered the slow process of “rereading” the bible. As a sample of this, I am offering below a paraphrase/ interpretation from James (3:13-18).

Spiritually wise people live in the humility that comes from wisdom. This is the “good life.” Cultural “wisdom” advances the opposite of humility: dichotomies of us/them and you/me, notions of “my rights,” mindsets that allow us to consider ourselves better or worse than others, in other words, “bitter envy and selfish ambition.” If this malicious mindset is planted in our hearts, we should not try to deny or justify it. This mindset is related to “every evil practice.” We don’t need to weed out particular evil practices from ourselves—so much as we need to be healed of this heart condition. Spiritual wisdom is pure, uncorrupted by the cultural worldview of separateness. Because this purity of heart allows movement beyond the ego, spiritually wise people are considerate, submissive, full of mercy, full of good fruit, impartial, sincere, peace-loving peacemakers. Spiritually wise people sow their lives in peace. This is righteousness.

--Paul Corrigan

3 comments:

RC said...

Paul, this is a very creative and meaningful approach. It stimulates and encourages me. I want to be a "spiritually wise person who lives in the humility that comes from wisdom"!
--Thank you for sharing this--
--RC

living stones said...

Paul, I liked the quote you used from James, "...we need to be healed of this heart condition." I am grateful for a practice that allows God to work on my heart apart from any list I devise!
Thanks for sharing this--Anna

Daniel Sartin said...

Brave, honest, and enlightening. I appreciate your thoughts and reflections on this passage, and I'm looking forward to seeing you soon.

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