Friday, August 4, 2017
GET IT ?
So, this young college student, who is on the autism spectrum, lost his student I.D. card.
He feared he'd be in trouble and he became highly agitated.
His roommate told him to chill.
All he had to do was go to the Student Life Office,
do a little song and dance for them,
and they'd give him a new I.D. card.
That threw the young, autistic student into a full blown panic.
He yelled, "I don't know how to do a song and dance!"
Because of his autistic literalism, he just didn't get it.
All too many European and American people
are like that when they read sacred texts
from other peoples and places.
They don't get it,
they certainly don't get it right.
Take the Jewish and most of the Christian scriptures.
They certainly are "true,"
true to themselves,
and true in their cultural context.
But they don't ring true,
are not "true" in the cultural context of Europe and the Americas
when taken on our terms rather
than on those of the ones who composed them.
My mother was a student nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital
in Paterson, NJ during the early 1930's.
A woman was rushed to the E.R.
She had chopped off her right hand.
Yah, pretty horrid!!
Once stabilized, she explained that she used her right hand
to steal and to hit her children
and that The Bible says,
"If your right hand is an occasion of sin,
cut it off..."
( Matthew 5:30 )
So, she got a hatchet and did just that.
She didn't get it big time!
Then, how about all those self identifying Christians
who have never cut off their right hands
( for once "lefties" have it better )
and yet they have used said right hands
to over feed themselves,
slap, hit, hurt,
falsify accounts and records,
script fake news,
to caress one other than their spouse?
They don't get it, either, just the other way round.
Jesus was Jewish.
He eat, drank, dressed, thought and talked Jewish.
In that culture, exaggeration was an preferred manner of speech
when you wanted to emphasize something really important.
In this case, Jesus was emphasizing by exaggeration..
He was addressing things close in, intimate,
part and parcel to how we live,
yet things that ruin and wreck, e.g.
dishonest business practices that make us a lot of money,
smoking, cheating on our partner.
Jesus was talking about things that poison us and others.
So if there is something,
or someone, or some behavior
as much a part of how we live as our right hand,
and yet it is toxic,
cut it out for your own psychic, spiritual health
and the well being of others.
Yes, sacred writings need to be contextualized.
That shows in another critical way.
In the case of Jewish and Christian scriptures, as noted, that context is Jewish,
not French, American, Canadian, etc.
In the Jewish culture even to this day,
any card carrying, rabbi would tell you
that a given scripture text
could mean this, but then it could mean that,
but then again, it might mean yet something else.
This is not rampant relativism.
It's midrash, the interpretive method that addresses
- the plain, or literal meaning,
- the deep meaning,
- the comparative meaning,
- the hidden meaning.
It is because God/Reality/Existence
is limitless, and any scriptural text is like a little mirror.
It reflects but a tiny bit of that vastness.
Turn it this way, and it reflects another tiny bit of that vastness.
Turn it yet another way, and it reflects a different bit of that vastness.
It is a lot like good poetry.
There are all sorts of tones, hues, textures, dimensions
way beyond the literal articulation.
To "get it "we need to take it as it is given.
To pull ancient sacred texts of any of the world's great religions
through the filters of our cultural notions
of historicity, factuality, literalism
is to smash the little mirrors that they are.
Well, here are two tiny writings,
not at all in the same league as ancient, sacred writings.
That's because they come from little, old me.
Hopefully, though, they are little mirrors
that can reflect a bit of God/Reality/Existence
as you pray them through this way and that:
- When we let go of everything we are gifted with Everything.
- Relax into the Enfoldment of Love.
So good for us all to be together.
Look forward to seeing you next week.
This you can take literally,
God loves you and so do I,
at 7:44 AM