Pretending To Know The Difference Between God And You

On Authority
This idea of what Christians mean when they say the Bible is their authority is actually very interesting. Maybe I am just flogging a dead horse and if I am, tell me in the comments. I am big enough to take the criticism. Jimlad. I’m looking at you.

It is a crazy claim to make. That God inspired a book and that it takes the form of some laws, lots of stories and some very erotic poetry. One of the things people have to understand about the claim is the difference between us Catholics and us Protestants. I am a Prodolic. Raised Catholic. Living as a Presbie. The lads in Rome think that authority comes in the form of Scripture and tradition. I ain’t going to work out the exact specification of how that works because they themselves are confused about it at the moment. But as someone (*cough* Tom Wright *cough*) wrote in a book I read recently, when you claim that there are two authorities, you change the meaning of the word authority. There are folk in Utah who claim to have two wives, but that is a categorically different term from the one I use when I complain that my wife keeps leaving me alone at night to go hang out with her friends who don’t have lisps.

Wives come in ones, otherwise they become something considerably less interesting. Authorities come in ones, otherwise they just become guiding voices.

Claiming tradition (which means the practice of Christians down through the ages) is authority is like a soldier who receiving his orders in the mail mistakes the the postman for his commanding officer.

On Literality
Another question that people ask alot is whether I believe the Bible is literally true. Literal, originally, (literally!) means the “sense of the letter”. So ask me if I read the Bible literally. Go on ask me.

Yes! Of course I do. Well I try to. I mean, that is what the game is all about- understanding the original meaning of Scripture and I do my best.

When it says that Solomon built the temple, I read that to mean Solomon built the temple. That is what it means to communicate right? When the Bible says some lad wants to wander in the fragrant gardens of his beloved I take that to mean something a little more, meaningful. When the Psalms say God has smoke coming out of his nostrils, I usually don’t take that to mean God is a dragon. Don’t be silly! God didn’t even make dragons! He left that to us. But just because I believe that “metaphorically”, to use the language of the average Freddy Sceptic, doesn’t mean I don’t believe its true. For something to be an effective metaphor, it has to map on to reality. Thus some no name poet talks about digging for potatoes being the same as coming to terms with his identity as a poet and that makes sense to us. If Shay Heaney had talked about potato digging as an illustration of a business phone call then we wouldn’t have his hung his poster on our teenaged walls.

We all did that, right?

Thus, when Hosea tells us that God thinks we are all adulterous fiends, he doesn’t mean for us to think we married the Big Fella one drunken night in Vegas and can’t remember it. He is telling the truth though. Truth so profound one has to resort to poetics to get it across.

Literal is not the opposite of metaphorical. I have made this point often before on Zoomtard. When Robbie Keane “literally cannons the ball into the back of the net” we are speaking literally in metaphorical terms. He did score a goal. But the ball moved very fast. Talking about the event in the terms of a physics textbook, “rapid velocity propelled the inflated sphere into the commonly agreed target” doesn’t do justice to the dramatic context of an international soccer match. When people ask about the literality of the Bible they think they are asking whether or not the Bible can be taken seriously. When I say often one must read it metaphorically they hear me say the Bible is a load of fairy tales. But that is not the case. The most potent moments in our life must be described in terms of poetry, story, drama. Reductionism won’t do.

Your Correspondent, Touring Europe with his musical rendition of My Left Foot

8 Responses to “Pretending To Know The Difference Between God And You”

  1. Concerning business phone calls and potato-picking, both acts involve getting covered in filth and leave you aching at the end of a day…

    Helpline by Seamus Heaney, allegedly

    Banshee muzak plays through
    My night
    As AOL siphons my soul
    Like the diesel
    The young lass borrowed
    In Drogheda

    Please hold, says the
    Voice of a bog-nymph,
    Through the plastic prison bars
    Of my so-called receiver.

    I would hold you on
    The Bus back to Derry
    But your soul has been outourced
    Through teleautomated telekenesis
    To a land where sheep are as rare
    As camels in Strabane.

  2. Greymalkin says:

    drat,and actually wanted to leave something,smart,zassy or simply brilliant in argument.instead i’ll purposely annoy you and ask the question is genesis 1-3 metaphorical or literal?(oh,literal works on so many levels!)genius!eh?EH?

  3. zoomtard says:

    Classic smart, zazzy (wtf?) simply brilliant response Williamson. Thanks for the comment.

    Gmalkin! You’ll rue the day you made that comment. I am inviting myself down to UCCCU this semester to tell you all how the literal meaning of Genesis 1-3 is allegorical.

  4. Amy says:

    Hmm once again I am left impressed, perplexed, questioning & affirmed. Well done Zoomtard! Always a pleasure.

  5. jimlad says:

    I’m calling the I.S.P.C.A.

  6. zoometic says:

    In relation to anything written here or just to catch up?

  7. jimlad says:

    It was a test. You’ve passed. If you understood what I meant you would be insane. You are not flogging a dead horse. It is alive. This means that you’re behaviour constitutes cruelty to animals. I will let you off this time, but next time you push a relevant issue I am reporting you.

  8. zoomshamed says:

    I take your warning with the utmost seriousnessness. I will from now on only write fluff pieces about what is the best grape juice to use as communion wine and whether or not Jesus was hotter than Justin Timberlake.