It’s Sunday morning and…
So the GOP Convention will start a day late due to Hurricane Isaac. Biblical name, too. Makes you wonder why God did not listen to the oh-so righteous fundamental Christian prayers- the prayers uplifted to the Heavens to spare their sacred convention. Maybe God is deaf.
Then there was the story in CNN yesterday of a dairy farmer in Missouri who had to auction off all but 5 of his herd because of the drought that devastated his pasture land. Although I do not know if this farmer was a fundamentalist Christian, I’m betting that there were many pastors in his neck of the woods offering prayers of supplication to God for rain. This drought has been labeled the ‘worst in 50 years.’ All of those wasted prayers. Is God deaf?
This seeming indifference by the supreme Deity to human invocation has manifested itself multiple times throughout history. And at sports events too. Why do Notre Dame and TCU lose football games?
On a much more serious note, why do soldiers die in war when their family and loved-ones at home pray for their safety? How many prayers were lifted up to YHWY by the Holocaust victims before they were gassed and their bodies incinerated?
As I type this, surely prayers are being ‘uplifted’ in churches all along the Gulf Coast imploring the Divine to spare them from wrath. Some will be, but not all. Did the people of New Orleans not pray hard enough before Katrina devastated their city?
Perhaps God is deaf.
Or, there are other possibilities.
While reading my current Kindle book I came across this point written by Protestant minister, Robin Meyers:
When we read or listen to the Bible, we are all listening to ancient conversations not intended for us. We are, as Fred Craddock put it, in the posture of “overhearing” voices not addressed to us—as if on our knees listening through a keyhole between two worlds. Across that threshold is a chasm of time and space, culture, worldview, and language. The language of the Bible is at the center of American life, and is often a tool of American politics, but almost nobody has any idea how we got it, what’s really in it, or why a little bit of biblical knowledge is more dangerous than none at all.
This morning as I flipped through TV channels, there were perhaps 2 dozen ministers ‘imploring the word of God’ to their virtual congregations. Why did most of them have a southern twang? Curious, but not unexpected. And what do they really know about this Bible which they regularly thump? Meyers said, “When we read or listen to the Bible, we are all listening to ancient conversations not intended for us.”
Hmm. Ancient conversations, not intended for us. Yet, preachers select these ancient conversations [over 3000 years old] and aim them into the hearts and brains of 21st century Americans, as if that ancient stuff is relevant to their lives. As I type this, there is a story on CBS’s Sunday Morning about gay marriage and its importance in the 2012 presidential election. A preacher is quoting Genesis- you know, that story about our 6,000-year-old universe.
Meyers further says in his book, The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus:
Whenever we engage in the use of the Bible to acquire power over others or to engineer exclusive communities that claim “true and absolute knowledge” of the meaning of each and every word of scripture, we fail to trust in the work of the spirit that moved those who left us a record of that remarkable conversation. And we fail to trust in the process of interpretation, because deep down we mistrust the ambiguity of dialogue itself, preferring something more authoritative, like edicts or rules.
About those ‘authoritative edicts and rules,’ I suspect that those on the right-side of the political spectrum demand this way of life. And there is a plethora of that in that ancient dialogue book.
On this sunny, last Sunday of August here in northwest Ohio, thousands of people will leave church certain that they know what God wants them to do because their pastors told them so- the pastors who selected certain ancient conversations, not intended for us.