They've got a point - several, in fact. I'll get back to one involving the liturgy, in another post. (November 19, 2010)
First, though, a look at what I'll call the 'dark side of Bible study.'
Three Professors and a Good IdeaIf I understood them correctly, the three professors who write The Sacred Page thought it'd be a good idea if Catholics who blog start sharing their notions about:
- Biblical Renewal
- Bible Study
- Bible passages
- Biblical reflections
That caution comes in part from my knowledge that I'm just "some guy with a blog." I've got about as little teaching authority as a Catholic can have.
Another reason that I'm cautious about going all "Biblical" is that I grew up in an area infested with Bible-believing folks who hated the Catholic Church and had a thing for 'End Times Prophecy,' Bible trivia, and numerology.
'How nutty can you get, if you quote from the Bible?' Before I go on, a reminder:
"...I've made the point before, and probably will again, that folks like Pat Robertson, Tony Alamo, and the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas; are not all there is to Christianity. I don't think they're even representative of Protestant Christianity...."
(October 12, 2010)
Biblical Reflections: Spirit-Filled (about 180 proof)First, some headlines. You might not think there was anything particularly 'Biblical' about them: and I'd think you were right. Apply 'end times logic,' though, and - well, I'll get to that.
- "Fiat Returns To America After 27 Years; Represents A Growth In The Small Car Market"
AltTransport.com (November 18, 2010)
- "Geely Beauty Leopard – still ugly"
China Car Times (May 19, 2008)
How, by All That is Sane, Does A Beijing Auto Show Connect With the Bible?It doesn't, except insofar as it's part of human culture - which does connect with the Bible.
Remember, this is a look at the 'dark side' of Bible study. I'm applying the sort of - thinking? - that I ran into, decades back.
A Mercifully Brief Reminiscence of This Blogger's YouthIn my early youth I tried listening to 'Christian' radio stations. They said they were Christian, you see: and I thought it'd be a good idea to do my radio listening with a station whose content was consistent with my beliefs. Silly me.
After a while, I couldn't take any more of the steady stream of guilt, shame, and weird assertions: and started listening to the local rock stations.
Back to the Dark Side of Bible StudyI'm pretty sure that the sort of 'Bible-believing' stuff I ran into, back in the sixties, is not what the Catholic professors had in mind. Actually, I rather hope that they're unaware of that particular dark corner of American culture - and don't realize what sort of spiritual moonshine can come out of a still filled with roughly-equal parts of cultural biases and screwball logic, plus a dash of Bible verses.
Like this bit of nonsense:
Please note: I don't believe this bit of 'Biblical reflection.'
"...a woman clothed with the sun..." "...a huge red dragon...." "...The beast I saw was like a leopard, but it had feet like a bear's, and its mouth was like the mouth of a lion. To it the dragon gave its own power and throne, along with great authority."There's a lot of numbers in those chapters, too: ten horns, seven heads, ten diadems. Remember the number "ten." It's, like, you know: relevant.
(Revelation 12:1, 3, Revelation 13:2)
Anyway, add up the ten horns, seven heads, and ten diadems, and you get 27, which is the number of years it's been since Fiat was in America.
Here's where it gets fun.
Fiat is a car. The dragon is the symbol for China. A Chinese car is called a leopard. The bear is the symbol for Russia. And China is the enemy of America - which is like being against God - just like Russia!
Remember: I DON'T BELIEVE THIS. Not the 'God is an American' stuff.
An Obligatory Topical Reference for This 'End Times' Bible ReflectionI suspect that some of the topical references in 'end times' books are there in part because most folks don't get worked up about dusty old historical names. With that in mind, here's something topical:
'Biblically speaking,' the woman clothed in the sun is obviously Sarah Palin. She was the governor of Alaska. Part of Alaska is north of the Arctic Circle, so the sun shines there all summer! And the Valley of TEN Thousand Smokes is in Alaska!!
YOU SEE?! IT ALL FITS TOGETHER!!!!!!
No, it doesn't.
Maybe, if I spent time tarting up alleged associations between a two-thousand-year-old literary style and 21st-century Western politics, it'd 'make sense.' Particularly if I tried to get you emotionally overwrought before unloading my argument. I've discussed how emotion and reason don't play well together in another blog. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (December 23, 2008))
As a practicing Catholic, by the way, I am quite certain that my Lord will come again. It's that familiar "Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again!"1 But I'm also quite certain that trying to second-guess God the Father is a waste of time. (November 14, 2010)
Which is one reason why I'm not going to have a shot at correlating the number 666, Joseph Stalin, and some topic I'm in a snit about - followed with the claim that God agrees with me because "it's in the Bible."
Another reason is that I expect to have some very serious face time with my Lord in the none-too-distant future. A few decades, tops. I've discussed the particular judgment before. (August 8, 2010) The way I see it, I have enough to deal with now, without adding more dubiously-licit actions.
I've known about Jesus, ever since I can remember: and I've been inclined to take Him seriously. Very seriously. Not because He's famous, but because He claimed to be God (John 14:9) - and made it stick. (Matthew 28:18)
I was also rather reassured by the Catholic Church having the Bible, Tradition, and the Magisterium to keep it on course. Plus constant attention from God. (Matthew 28:19-20)
We've got procedures to control the sort of weird 'Bible truths' that pop up when (in my view) a small, culturally-homogeneous group of Christians get hit by a perfect storm of cultural biases, extreme self-confidence, and a nerdy interest in Bible trivia.
Which brings me back to another aspect of the professors' post. Which I'll discuss in "Mass, Liturgy, Nostalgia, and being Catholic in America" (November 19, 2010).
Posts mentioning Verbum Domini:
- "Studying the Bible: Carefully"
(November 16, 2010)
- "ADHD, an Apostolic Exhortation, Another Document, and V8"
(November 11, 2010)
- "Meditating on the Word of God: New How-2 From the Holy See"
(November 11, 2010)
- "God Knows, I Don't: And That's Okay"
(November 14, 2010)
- "Death at Mass in Baghdad: My Take"
(November 1, 2010)
- "Global Warming, End Times - 'We're All Gonna Die' Over the Last 45 Years Or So"
(October 3, 2009)
- "Obama, the Black Pope, and American Culture"
(November 12, 2008)
- Benedict XVI: Apostolic Exhortations
- "Catholic Bloggers Ignoring the Pope's 'Fundamental Priority'?"
The Sacred Page (November 12, 2010)
1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 988-1019, which refers to John 6:39-40, Romans 8:11, plus more in 1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and Philippians - and that's just the references in Catechism, 989.