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Friday, October 5, 2018

Christian Words

I am reading Marcus Borg's "Speaking Christian." Wow! I wish everyone would read it. Part of his point is that the meaning of key religious words has drastically changed since the Enlightenment as well as understanding in general.

After the Enlightenment words were either factual/true or lies with little space for truth in myth, little space for truth in things not literally true but true in meaning. Hence the fundamentalist idea grew that everything in The Bible was literally true and contained no error. A new duality was set up - fact or fiction. Out the window flew mystical understanding, with it nuances, stories that have deeper, maybe even hidden meanings etc. New meanings for theological words developed.

 The part I've come to this morning is about salvation. The Old and New Testaments speak about it in relation to this life, as salvation from the Pharaoh. Marcus Borg says the Bible teaches 2 salvations, personal and political, inner awakening to God and corporate salvation in the form of justice. Both are about this world and our present life. Christianity shifted to be about going to heaven, to being in the in-group. All the words about creating God's Kingdom are about doing it here, heaven is already all right.

A quote from this chapter that sent me into contemplative mode, and I invite you to contemplate it with me:
Most of us as we grew up acquired a Pharaoh within who holds us in bondage, tells us to work harder, and gives us meager rations... Many live for decades, some for all of their lives, with a strong demanding critical voice within. Salvation is liberation from the Pharaoh within as well as the  Pharaoh without. So also return from exile has a personal meaning. Some people are literally exiled to another country, where they live in conditions of disempowerment and impoverishment. But exile is also an archetypal image of the human condition. We often feel cut off, separated, exiled, alienated from life. Salvation as return from exile is return and reconnection to what matters, a center of meaning and purpose - to God. 

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