Friday, November 13, 2009

The Shack

I have broken my own rule. I set a goal for myself to not read or listen to any books for the month of November. While I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, I figured a fiction fast would get my imagination churning enough that I would be more motivated to write. That was the idea. It lasted a week. The problem is that my day job currently consists of a lot of data entry and other monotimous tasks that tend to become mind numbing fairly quickly. I tried listening to music, for a whole week I tried. But that entire week I felt like my mind would explode, I was just so board. Then I broke down and started listening to audio books again. And what do you know, I’m back to loving data entry. It’s a great background activity to listening. My current plan is to listen to audio books while at work, but to focus my free time on writing (not reading or listening) while at home. I’m not writing anywhere near NaNoWriMo type word counts, but I’m writing more than I did in October. And I feel much more content.

Since I’m busy breaking rules, now I’m going to break another big rule – I’m gonna talk about religion. Because one of the books I listened to this week was “The Shack” by William P. Young. The book came recomended to me by a nun, an evangelical prodostant, and a devout egnostic. It is a good book, my guess is that most people in the world who consider themselves Christians will really like this book. It is well written, thought provoking, and it questions modern consepts of religion just enough to enable people to rexamine their faith without fully destroying it.

My own reaction to the book was surprisingly positive. I never felt offended while listening to it, and I often felt myself agreeing with its message. But I don’t tend to think of myself as Christian. This doesn’t mean I’m a devout athiest either. I often describe myself as a resent convert to hethenism. When I was a kid, I was a total nerd. I got straight A’s in everything, including Sunday school. I didn’t know how to read, so I aquired an audio version of the bible. Then I memorized it. In Sunday school when the other kids memorized individual bible verses, I would show up having memorized entire books.

Being a non-reader, I’ve always had a strong tie to the idea of oral tradition. I have never questioned the idea that in the first century AD, very few people knew how to read. That doesn’t mean that people didn’t know the scriptures, it means that people memorized the stories and told them alloud – the same why I still listen to audio books while doing data entry. I, therefore, deduced that none of the New Testimate could be properly understood if the entire Old Testimate wasn’t first memorized. The early Christians were all just as devout of Talmudic scholars and the average orthodox Jew of today. And the sudtle refrence to Talmudic scripture in the gospils and appisles weren’t intended to be suttle.

So I know my scriptures. I have also done a fair amount of study into the men who wrote them down and their political and religious motivations for writing them. But I don’t call myself a Christian. Not because I don’t believe in God, because I do. I just don’t like the way so many Christian’s spout hate in the name of God and try to scare people into faith. Most of modern Christianity is entirely alien to the concept of God I discovered by memorizing the Bible as a kid. But I liked “The Shack”. There is one line in it where the character of Jesus says, “I’m not a Christian.” And I have to admit that line made me smile.

Anyone reading “The Shack” should go into it knowing that three of the major characters in the books are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – it is a very religions book that can only be enjoyed or understood from a religions point of view. But God the Father is a fat African American Woman, and most of the other common conceptions precented in contemperary religion are questioned. I beat enough ordained ministers at bible trivial games as a kid to know that I’m familiar with the scriptures. And while “The Shack” doesn’t quote the bible, it really doesn’t contridict it either. And the African American Female God that lives in a shack in the woods, is more like the Holy Father whose stories I memorized in my youth, than the wrathful God Christian’s so often quote when preaching hatered.

So if you are a nun, or an evangelocal prodistant, or an devout egnostic, I would recommend “The Shack”. It is an interesting read about a broken spirits face to face encounter with God. It uplifts, and encourages thought, and attempts to puts a new more loving face on a creater that never wanted to be seen as wrathful.

Joke of the Day
Bob and a rabbi and a priest are walking together. Bob turns to the rabbi and asked, "I know in your religion you aren't supposed to eat pork, but have you ever tasted it?"
"I must confess," the rabbi replies. "There was one time when I did taste pork."
Bob then turns to the priest and asked, "You are supposed to be celebate, but have you..."
The priest cuts him off and admits, "Yes, there was one time I succome to my temptations."
The rabbi then turned to the priest and said, "It's better than pork, isn't it."

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