There’s Something About the Way You Use the Bible<blockquote>There’s something about the way you use the bible, something about the way you use it as a tool, as a weapon, as a fulcrum, as a means, as an end, as a trump card.
There’s something about the way you see the bible as a thing to be used at all.
There’s something about your intensity and your urgency and the way you have your eyes locked on some distant prize. There’s something about the energy you are putting into this. It’s making you frantic and in a hurry. You will not be present in a sacred moment. You will not wait. You will not keep silence. You will not admit that you are weak. You will not let things unfold.
You cannot abide, so you will not abide. You will not abide the journey…
…the bible is not a self-help book full of easy answers, but a book of stories and wisdom that is meant to lead us into relationship and worship. There are hard and fast truths in it, yes, but they are surrounded by soft truths, and slippery truths, and sometimes truths, and truths that once were true but are no longer true, and truths that are only true if you are in the right state of mind, and truths that are only true if you are not hurting someone, and truths that are true in the moment but not if you are talking about the moment, and truths that can only be lived and should never be spoken, and truths that we cannot hear, and truths that are more than we can bear.
The truths of the bible are utterly beyond anyone who seeks to own truth and who seeks truth above the Spirit of God.
The bible is not a book for those who need a weapon. It is not a book for those who know where they are going and what questions they will ask. It is not a book for those who are in a hurry and looking for the shortest route.
The bible is a book for pilgrims and wanderers. It is a book for children and for those who wish to become children again. It is a book for seekers and searchers and dreamers.
</blockquote> Wrestling with an Angel
I sat in Rabbi Kaplan's office and unleashed a torrent of bile I'd saved up for years. I told him I didn't think I believed in God at all. That I thought religion was used to control people. That I don't believe anything in those books we read really happened. He could have taken the opportunity to teach me something about Judaism I didn't know. And, fortunately, that's exactly what he did. He said: "Cool." The he told me about Marx, Freud, and all the other famous, smart, Jewish atheists. They didn't believe in God, either. But they were still Jews. He told me that there's a long-standing tradition of questioning God in Judaism. He told me a story from the Torah where Jacob wrestles with an angel. And he said the old Rabbis read that story as a metaphor for him wrestling with his own faith. The idea that it was okay to be unsure was new to me. That I could still be Jewish and question. That, in fact, the act of questioning was part of having faith. That the questioning made me more Jewish, not less. I was wrestling with my faith, like Jacob. And that was okay.