February 14, 2013

A Reader’s Disconcertion

Imagine discovering that a book (or series of books) that you liked had some missing parts, some chapters totally unknown to you.

(Conversely, imagine somebody reading the same book, but their copy didn’t have all the stuff that your copy did)

What if there were whole chapters in the book (or whole books in the series) that had somehow escaped your notice, or had even been kept from you on purpose?

Let’s use the popular “Harry Potter” book series as an example.  Imagine learning that there was another book - somewhere in the middle of the series - one that told the back-story of one of the main characters and detailed secrets only hinted- at in the other books.  Things that gave you insights into the story that you’d never even considered, or may have only wondered.

Imagine that you later found out about that missing book.  How would you feel?  Would you be outraged?  Cheated?  Bewildered?  It’s likely you would want to know about the missing parts; you’d want to know WHAT was missing and WHO did it?  The author?  The editors?  And, more importantly, WHY?

Well, that’s kind of what happened with me and the Bible.

I was told that the Bible was ‘the word of God’ - the undisputed truth.  Then, one Sunday, my Catholic friend came to Sunday school with me, and brought his Bible.  During discussion, he volunteered to read from his Bible.  But it was not the same as everybody else’s Bible.  He had other words than we did.  His Bible wasn’t OUR Bible, not THE Bible.  His was WRONG and ours was RIGHT.

Wait, what?  How can there be TWO Bibles?  Surely there was only ONE God, so there should only be ONE Bible as well.  And surely anyone writing down the word of God would write EXACTLY what God said - they wouldn’t dare elaborate or edit HIS words.

Later I learned about the various re-writes the Bible has gone through since its origins.  I learned about the First Council of Nicaea, where the emperor Constantine gathered Christian bishops to debate various canons of Christianity.  I learned about different sects of Christianity and how each accepts a different biblical variation, including both open and closed canons.

(I also learned about other books like the Torah and the Koran, but that’s another story)

It seems to me that, somewhere along the way, Man became too involved in the process, editorially speaking, and the real message got ‘muddied’ - either despite their best intentions, or because of them.  And, while I may have some faith in my fellow man, it’s not enough for me to accept that any ‘version’ of the Bible is a suitable basis for true belief.

That being said, I'm hoping that God – or whatever higher power exists, if any – will be benevolent enough to understand my reluctance to trust in beings known to be flawed, and will overlook, if not completely forgive, my disbelief and still allow me into Heaven.

(Thanks for reading!  If you were hoping for a Valentine's Day post, you can have a peek here: Valentine's Day Haiku

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