Image from the Book of Kells, a 1200 year old book. Category:Illuminated manuscript images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just one verse – of a poem, a song, out of a religious text – makes what? That is to say, out of context, does it still have meaning, or does that verse become something other than it was mean to be? The verse becomes, what, simply a line hanging out there indefinitely? The sort of thing that could be, perhaps a dangling modifier, if only it could be modified? (Don’t jump on me for this phrase, grammarians!)
Oh, but wait, they usually are modified, and usually out of context. Or at least, in my current state of opinion it seems that oftentimes a particular verse may be simply plucked out and used for one’s own liking as determined by that person’s current state of opinion or circumstance. Is that bad? I would think not. Good? Possibly.
However, and herein lies the heart of the matter, I have seen this so often concerning religious texts in particular, and in religious circles (or spiritual, or whatever term you prefer to use) that I wonder if it is not wholly (not Holy) good, for a body of people. Perhaps ‘good’ is not the applicable term here. Can it be healthy to focus on one particular point and run with it? Is it, on the other hand, unhealthy? I sincerely hope for much feedback on this.
Having run the gamut from praying so long I prayed myself to sleep (then awoke to long enough to say “Amen”) to being hum-drum to preaching to being lost, angry and resentful to not knowing what I believed to not being able to disbelieve… I cannot help but wonder how much damage (if any) it does to take one single belief (particularly one verse of one particular scripture of one particular faith) and run with it. It is tempting to do, especially when it fits my current state of opinion or circumstance.
Why all this faith stuff now, you ask? I came upon a blog – couldn’t tell you which one, and at any rate I wouldn’t, as it might be controversial with this post – and it brought up Joshua 5:13, 14 in The Holy Bible, where Joshua asks if the angel or man (depending on which version) is for them or for their enemies and the angel or Man replies, “Neither.” The point of that particular blog post was not the reply, but the point of THIS, MY blog post here and now, IS. This is what raised all these questions in my mind to begin with.
My mind began to race with questions such as, “If He is neither for nor against us, then..?” “Well why would He bless us?” “What do other religious texts say on this matter?” “Is there any other place in the Bible that mentions that God is neither for nor against us?” “Does He really bless us?” “If He does not cause evil but turns everything for good, then everyone is blessed, right?” And on and on and on until I stopped all those thoughts and realized I had jumped on ONE PARTICULAR VERSE (or two) and was trying to see if I could make doctrine out of it! I don’t have enough knowledge to do that, and I realized I needed to slow down, back up, and think about how ridiculous I was probably being, reacting to something about which I have little knowledge.
What kinds of reactions does this cause in you, if any? Have you already experience this? Does this cause you to experience anything anew? What have your religions/spiritual experiences taught you (not just ‘Christian‘)? What is your current state of opinion or circumstance telling you these days?