Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A strange book.

I went on a tramp. My dad would have monitored this intake to the city's water supply in the late 1940's

My family lived out in this area when I was born.
The setting sun on my recent evening walk.
My walk was colourful that evening.

A strange book
I am reading a book.  The stories are claimed to be true stories and they are old but interesting. In some ways the behavior of the heroes in the book is totally disgusting. I will give you an example. This hero's group have decided that they will take over new territory.   So they invade an area populated by another group. Their leader tells them to destroy it and claim the livestock, harvests and vineyards as their own. So away the army went, had success and returned. The leader asked them about the results. They had killed all the men, but had left the women and the children alive. The leader was angry. "Go kill the women and the children," he said, "except the young women who have not slept with a man (the virgins) these you may claim as your own." This hero has been revered down through the ages. His adventures have been turned into a film. He actually would today be put on trial for shocking war crimes and remembered with a reputation as bad as Hitler in today's world. There are other stories with other heroes who do other horrifying stuff.  It is an interesting book full of such stories.
The book? The Bible! The hero of the story? Moses! I hear people claiming the Koran is full of hatred and violence, but have they read the Christian scriptures? As a retired parson, years ago at Theological college we were introduced to the main thrust of these stories. In the set Sunday readings I have read selected parts of these stories and associated commentaries. Over the years I have read all of the New Testament, many parts over again and again. I have mainly led services from the New Testament or Gospel readings, and have often felt uncomfortable about some of the Old Testament readings being read in Church. I have enjoyed many readings from some of the prophets of the Old Testament.  Some of the Psalms, ring bells for me, but others seem to be small minded, tribal and selfish in nature. I have decided in my retired dotage that I will read the Bible from cover to cover, so I am plodding my way through it. I am nearly finished Deuteronomy and I have found the characters of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses to be terrible megalomaniacs. Their "god" seems a vengeful, blood thirsty nasty piece of work. There are those who like to say, "I believe the Bible is the Word of God from cover to cover." Have they ever really read the book? If they do believe in this God, and revere these people as heroes and models of "goodness", then that is very scary in itself.  I can see in these writings a gradual growth in the understanding of what is right and wrong.  That is instructive in that it mirrors the process of "spiritual growth" we all as individuals go through. But to see these as sacred scripture, giving a correct description of God and sacred "truth" is inconceivable. 
Cecil Rhodes of South African history has been revered. There are statues honouring him in different places and of course, the Rhodes scholarship. Nowadays there are some moves to take down the statues and stop honouring him, because he actually had some terrible imperialistic ideas. Of course we are viewing these concepts from our very politically correct age. Maybe these "heroes of scripture" should be revisited too? 
Anyway wish me luck with my reading.    

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