Tuesday, 15 January 2013

New Year Resolution

At the request of my wife, I am reading the Bible from cover to cover during this year.

It won't be the first time I have done so. It will be the second. I first read the whole Bible in 1988, when I was 23 years old.

My relationship with it as a child was as a innate sceptic. My parents had been religious, but left the Church following a challenge to their faith. I was packed off to Sunday School in a half-hearted sort of way for a few weeks when very young and given a children's Bible, but was not raised as a Christian.

I remember reading the story of Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his son. In my mind's eye, there is an illustration of him holding the boy ready to do as he was ordered, but looking over his shoulder at the goat, which God had provided just in time in place of Abraham's son once his obedience had been proven.

My thought as a child of maybe four or five was the terror of the child, imagining how I would feel if my father had turned on me in the same way.

Whenever I attend Church with my wife now and Abraham is praised as a model of obedience this often comes to mind - along with more recent memories of people who have killed their children believing God told them to do so and generally been sentenced to compulsory mental health care.

I also remember the picture of the tower of Babel and thinking it ridiculous that people might have thought they could have build a tower to reach heaven, particularly as in the picture it was being built on a plain and not the top of the highest mountain they could find. It seemed very obviously a tale to explain the different languages in the world.

These were my thoughts from the innocence of childhood. Perhaps if I was being told it was all true by people I loved and trusted, I would have discarded my innate scepticism and learned how to ignore the voice of doubt.

All the same, when I read the Bible from cover to cover the first time it spoke to me and there in the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain I underwent a conversion experience, drinking handfuls of water from a mountain stream, realising that I had been made to survive on this water. "I drink your water," I said to the God that had become real to me.

This was the end of one journey and the beginning of another that would lead me into and then out of Church and the Christian faith.

So now as I read the Bible, I have no expectation that it will work some kind of supernatural magic to convert me - as my wife no doubt hopes it will. All the same, it seems worth doing for whatever insight it will bring and the memories of my past selves it may invoke.

Plus I found a free app for my iPhone that not only provides a reading schedule, but loads up the relevant texts sequentially from the Old Testament, New Testament and Book of Psalms.

There are various apps doing similar things, but the one I am using is free and is called Bible365.

It isn't tied to the calendar year, but I intend to catch up to synchronise with it. So first up is Genesis (and the impossibility of accepting that as literal truth) and Matthew (which opens by tracing Jesus back to King David... via Joseph).

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