Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The Bible as a personal narrative

An integral perspective on the Bible (and other sacred texts)

The Bible is an allegory of stages of development - magic, mythical and so on up to transcendental. Perhaps it's not a very good one, or rather messy and a bit of a rag bag, perhaps if we understood it better we would find out it's a better one. Just as the Greek myths model actual human behaviours, concerns, even psychoses

The construction of the Bible. Not the Word of God, but equally not the deliberate creation of a human author - created through history, by Jews, then Christians, then translated - Greek, Latin, English, German assembling and ordering texts according to what at each stage considered important / true. The process considered as a whole (and all the interpretations offered along the way as well) almost unconscious, and therefore possibly speaking about a greater, deeper truth than any one deliberate author could achieve. Quite different in scope and intent from say the Dhammapada, although not perhaps from the whole body of Buddhist literature.

see Frank Kermode - paradigmatic fictions / narratives.

It's about me - my genesis / creation, my coming to consciousness, my development of a conscience, Yahweh as superego, with rules and sacrifices and penalties, my liberation through forgetting of self, experience of the (free) Spirit, my sacrifice of the 'false self', my resurrectyion.

6 days of the creation - 1st six days after conception - are there any parallels in the stages of embryonic development?

If the narrative works i.e. means something, we'll keep it - or, we'll change it.

Evolution is another narrative - but does it help? Not the creationists obviously. Does it help as a personal narrative, a meaningful explanation of my being?

God is me - body, mind and everything else (including the universe of which I am an integral part and product and to which I will surrender my individual existence). He's true because I'm true, but He's much more than just what I think I am. He is, literally, everything - blood, brain, bone, sinew, every thought, dream, nightmare. He includes all of me and bits of me (most of me) I don't even know about - the unknown unknowns.

The point is the narrative has to be understood purely from my point of view - the universe, in fact, for me, comes in to being with my conception, and dies with my death - everything else is just theory. And my experience, my consciousness is just mine, from my point of view - so the explanatory narrative, at its deepest level, has to describe what this means, feels like for each individual. To the extent that it succeeds, it will continue. Which is why the Creationists are truly unhappy with the evolution narrative - it doesn't help them, it doesn't resonate with their personal experience, doesn't give them what they need.

Given the Bible's method of creation, it is hard to see how one could really replace it. Or does it need science and rationlism and evolution and psychology tacked on to the end of it? The Jews have it better - they keep arguing about and adding on to their scripture - it is not 'stuck' in this 'It's the unchanging, literally true, Word of God' - we are allowed to test it, interact with it, argue about and deny it. People or institutions that prevent that happening are denying what it means to be alive, human. If the Bible cannot grow, then neither can we.

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