Sunday, December 30, 2007

What Was God Thinking?

By Kristi Vrooman

Per Daniel and Walter's suggestion, step one in this experiment was to read the book of Leviticus in its entirety. A first for me. I'm just like so many would-be Bible-in-it's-entirety readers who get hung up somewhere in the middle of this book. But I did it. Partly because I had a deadline and knew I'd have face the rest of my tribe (the Kosher breakfast which marked our first meeting as a tribe), and because I'd already agreed to do it. I do have a confession: I read Leviticus in "The Message". I have 5 different Bible translations at home and I chose that one (I know, it's not REALLY a translation... whatever). Part of me wanted to see if Eugene Peterson could work the term "skid-row" into Leviticus as he had in the Psalms. Nope. It seemed pretty straight forward to me. Honestly I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I found myself underlining sections just as often as I would in the New Testament or the Psalms. The marked difference, however, was the sheer number of question marks I felt compelled to draw. A low estimate might be somewhere between 100-125. Really. Many of them were preceeded by these words "What was God THINKING???!!!!" Most of the time they came from a place of confusion, my "working out" the ideas in my head, trying to make sense of them in my 21st Century, North American, Christian context. But I shudder to think how many times those utterances resembled blasphemy. Speaking of blasphemy, in Lev. 24 God says:
"...anyone who blasphemes the Name of GOD must be put to death.
The entire congregation must stone him. It makes no difference whether he is a foreigner or a native, if he blasphemes the Name, he will be put to death."
But as Walter keeps reminding us, "It's all part of the process - we want you to struggle through this." That shouldn't be a problem.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Why Are We Doing This?

by Daniel Harrell

So we've had plenty of questions regarding this Living Leviticus experiment, with the biggest question being why? Taking for granted that the whole of God's word is for all God's people, the video below offers a few answers for those who've not yet joined the Facebook page...

Holiness Permeates Everything

by Kristen Filipic (one of the Levites)

So, I hang out with some families on a regular basis and have discovered that with certain kids, asking "Do you want to read a story?" ALWAYS works as a child-wrangling technique. We have gotten to the point where small children will sometimes climb into my lap and wordlessly hand me a book. This is excellent.

One of these small children has recently become interested in Greek mythology and is currently quite enraptured with an "introduction to the Olympians" book. Now, I love Greco-Roman mythology. I got drawn into this when I was a older then he is, but thought this was the most fascinating thing ever and it ended up leading me into taking Latin in high school, occasionally flirting with the thought of a classics major (ended up minoring) and other hopelessly nerdy things. So I particularly enjoyed helping introduce him to these stories, and am not especially concerned that this will lead him to abandon the faith of his family and church and instead worship Zeus and Athena.

It occurred to me that come January I won't be able to read this particular book to the children. It further occurred to me that this truly stinks.

So I was gearing up to write a post about how much this stinks, how there's really no harm in reading these stories at all. And even assuming that we were living in a society that actively worshipped the Olympians, a faith that's shielded from all challenge isn't much of a faith and how am I supposed to interact with the nice pagans enough to tell them about Jesus if I'm so walled off from their way of seeing the world. If I was in a particularly nerdy mood, which let's face it I usually am, I might even cite C.S. Lewis talking about how the similar themes throughout various cultures' mythologies (e.g. a dying and rising god is a very common theme) point to the One True Myth of Jesus.

I was going to say "Well, I can't cite chapter and verse, but I'm sure it's in there ..." and then continue on with my rant. But then I decided that it would be a much better post if I cited the specific law that was getting my goat. So I started paging through. And skimmed and skimmed, and flipped through some more pages. There's something about not worshipping idols, OK of course that's a bad plan. Not planning on doing that. There's something on not creating idols, ok, that's not what we're talking about either. Skim skim skim some more, haven't found it yet ... and now here we are at the end.


So apparently as long as we're very clear that we're not worshipping Athena, enjoying Bulfinch's Mythology is just fine.

This is good news. I wonder what other "well of course that's forbidden" assumptions I have will also be groundless.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Did Jesus Eat Pork?

By Daniel Harrell

So if Jesus kept the Old Testament law in order to fulfill it, then he had to have kept kosher, right? And if Christians are supposed to do what Jesus did, shouldn’t we be keeping kosher too? And if not, why not? And why kosher in the first place? What’s wrong with lobster? There is that place in the gospels where Jesus says “Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make him ‘unclean’?” Mark interprets this to mean that Jesus thereby cleansed all foods, though whether this is what Mark meant remains disputed. It’s certainly seems to be the case that Jewish Christians continued to obey the dietary laws. Pork roast didn’t show up at church suppers until the Gentiles fully took over. According to the B-Log, Christians have been warming lately to the Jewish kosher laws governing which foods are proper to eat and how to prepare them. "The Maker's Diet," "What Would Jesus Eat?" and other Christian flirtations with keeping kosher tend to stress the health benefits of the God-given dietary conventions, but other Christians contemplate going kosher as a matter of faith. Rabbi Telushkin is clear that keeping kosher was never part of some ancient Jewish health code. But there has to be some reason that it’s commanded in the Bible. It must have been good for something. Could it not still be good for that same thing? I did manage to ask a few people over Blue Ribbon BBQ, but as you can see, their mouths were fairly full of swine flesh.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Should I Shave?

By Daniel Harrell

OK, so I'm getting ready to embark on this month of living Levitically, along with eighteen friends (read about them here), and already I'm worried about Leviticus 19:27- "Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard." I grew a beard once and hated it. Who knew that small creatures could crawl in there and make a home. Some say that the reason behind this prohibition had to do with shaving being part of a heathen ritual (OK, I do have a fairly complex shaving ritual, but not sure I'd call it heathen). Others argue that hair is part of the natural order, and thus deigned as good by God and not-to-be-messed-with. Still others say that hair symbolized the life force of an individual (which explains the popularity of Hair Club for Men) and thus should be emphasized for whatever reason that it should be emphasized. Was this just an ancient cultural thing? A mark of separation from the pagans? Or is shaving truly immoral? Do I need to grow a beard to be obedient? I'll admit that my biggest concern is that I'm traveling to my parents' home during January and my mother wants a new family portrait. She'd kill me if I showed up with a beard. Of course Levitcus actually says don't trim your beard presuming perhaps that you already have one? Maybe that's my workaround. This stuff is going to drive me crazy.