14 February 2014

why not cut up that old bible?

I believe it was in high school, yeah it was in high school, when someone, someone named Charlie Dodrill, if I remember correctly,  once told the story of a religious person cutting out every instance in the Bible where it talked about money.  And when he was done the Bible was nothing but shreds.  Later on I discovered that "the person" was Jim Wallis from Sojourners.  I never did investigate if Jim Wallis really cut up the Bible?  I dunno, but if you google Jim Wallis + Cutting Up Bible, lots of links appear.  If he did or didn't doesn't matter.  The story has bounced around my head for years, I've even used it as a sermon illustration.  But last Saturday I decided to see for myself.

Last Saturday evening while supper was finishing I took off the shelf an old battered copy of the RSV study bible (it is coffee stained and held together with duct tape), got a razor, and started cutting.

For the record I have studied the bible from an economic stand point for years.  I know the bible talks about money all over the place.  Something powerful, however, happened when I started cutting out the money portions and whole pages disappeared.  The more I read the harder it was not to see Jesus' (and Luke's) money metaphors, idioms, and usage.

At the end the gospel of Luke was not in shreds but it wasn't well.

I used the cut up example of Luke's gospel to talk about the Social Gospel and Wealth last Sunday.  For children's time I showed the kids at church what was left over from Luke, then I showered the floor with all of the cut portions.  The kids got it, and so did the adults...and so did yours truly!  After carrying the process with me all week, I think the exercise was more for me than anyone.  I needed to physically cut out the portions and see for myself just how much Jesus talked about economics.  I think I needed it as a justification for my ongoing commitment to the Social Gospel.  And I'm not stopping with Luke; I am going to keep cutting up the bible and then carry it with me as an example.

I think this would be a great way to start seminary, give every student an old bible and a small razor and tell them to get cutting.  I knew intellectually that Jesus talked about money, but to feel it in a tangible way was quite another matter.

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