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Musings on My Blog Plan

by John K. Stoner (November 17, 2017)

Thinking about my approach to writing this blog since Berry’s hard decision to retire from writing and deal with his impending death, I have found myself asking the most basic questions.  I decided it makes sense to share some of this process with you readers.  And as always, to invite your feedback, your thoughts.

Why will I chose one topic over another?

That question led me to think that you can reduce, or arrange, most of life as a process of selection or choice.  I might choose a primary focus on either current events or on Biblical themes—those options arise for me because my life of 75+ years has revolved around those two foci.  And then I quickly think, Why biblical themes and texts?  Because I see the Christian tradition’s focus, or obsession if you will, on the Bible as the church’s choice of this slice of recorded history, recording the voice of Jesus, as crucial for interpreting and guiding it’s way of life in the world.   

I will likely give, or seem to give, priority to history (I will use that word as parallel, almost synonymous, with Bible) over current events because what I try to learn from history explains my interpretation of current events.  Put another way, the light I try to shine on current events comes from human experience in the past.  So in the briefest compass, that is my decision for now: to give priority to Biblical texts and interpretation.  And this (coincidentally, subliminally or purposely) gives me room to draw generously on the book, IF NOT EMPIRE, WHAT? which is the cause of this blog in the first place.  

The reader’s questions and potential objections to this are surely many and obvious, to which my first response is that the way I’ve shaped my options may itself be artificial and misleading.  Put differently, the dichotomy between history and current events may be false—in our minds and experience they are so intertwined that they’re impossibe to separate as neatly as I suggest.  So I do it being fully aware of this.  Yesterday on the radio I heard someone say that journalism is the first draft of history.  I like that.  

And if readers now fear “too much Bible coming here,” my response is that the Christian tradition suffers a lot, terribly, awfully, not so much from too much Bible but rather from not enough good Bible—bad readings of history instead of good ones.  

Now a kind of interjection, or sidebar, to make another point.  I think that you and I are personally and seriously responsible to choose our interpretations of history/biblical texts.  This personal responsibility means that in the end no fundamentalist  or liberal or dominionist or inerrantist Bible interpretative tradition can replace your duty to decide what you accept as true.  You are today engaged in the very same process that writers of history/Bible were engaged—you’re trying to make sense of life, explain what it means, and just live it.  You are not doing that perfectly, and here’s the kicker—neither were they!

So then, my focus on Bible history is my engagement with all those characters who got (happened to get) their writings preserved in a collection that many hundreds of years later was decided to be “the Bible.”  But, you are asking (should be asking), why give so much attention to those old men?  Again, because there is reason to believe that they did a little better than a lot of others in understanding their times and recording what it meant. 

But, and here’s our response to the kicker, we’ve got to sort out what they got more right and what they got more wrong, because, again, they were not perfect.  This is our endless project of understanding and interpreting history—we can’t escape it without falling into some mindless ignorance of history, some cesspool of stupidity that thinks the human experience and task began with our generation.  

The big question which confronts (always has confronted) our species is:  what is the greatest power in the struggle between  good and evil?  Or maybe a little more subtly, what are good and evil?  I’m quick to grant that we don’t know everything about good and evil, but just as quick to deny that we know nothing about good and evil.  And so I aver that there are real and crucial choices between good and evil in our world, but also am sure that these choices can be greatly misunderstood, and massivly manipulated to engage people in false and deadly crusades against other people.  

So now the country I live in is “led” by a man whose morality and sanity are both in doubt, and he has the power of nuclear weapons at his fingertips.  The morning paper says that there is no mechanism to stop him if he decides to pull the trigger.  Is the power at his fingertips, the power of war, to be the final arbiter of human destiny?

Or is there possibly another power greater than the system which created and elected this man? 

My reading of the Bible/history says that there is. Jesus said there is.  Not all readings of the Bible say this—so that defines something of our project.  Which reading is right?  A lot hangs on our answer.  In this blog I will struggle with who and what is right.  


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