Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Of Lentils and the power of myth...

This afternoon, L and I made soup for the Simple Supper for tonight. Lentils with Sausage. Vestry is cooking, and I am looking forward to getting back into the Lenten groove as I prepare to teach my continuing series on Borg's "Bible Book."

We are a thin group tonight, though. Several people are either away or sick. We might not even make quorum. That happens sometimes. Mostly, it seems, sometime around Lent. There is an element of Spring Fever to it, I am sure; but at one person really does have a fever (flu). So, we will see what we will get. Upside is that there is really very little to chew on right now. We had our Vestry Retreat bumped due to this Saturday's special Diocesan Convention. Our "business meeting" will really only take about a half hour, I should think. The rest is just getting up and off the mark on the lists of "to do" items that are starting to rise as we prepare for the summer months.

I have lunch tomorrow with the new vestry person for "Special Events." Hopefully, we will be able to put our heads together and do some dreaming for this idea. We have a great number of fundraising and fellowship events and initiatives that are floating around the parish, and they need a point of contact with vestry leadership. Attempts in the past to fold them into existing ministry leadership roles has not really proved fruitful. After doing some discernment, the vestry decided to add this position...And we will see what we can do to assist the people of the parish with some enhanced access to vestry.

As I prepare for this class, particularly, I am thinking about the section in Borg's book regarding the reading of the Hebrew Scriptures. Specifically, I am thinking about the way he talks about the Book of Genesis. I have always subscribed to his point of view about seeing the earliest narrative in the Bible as being metaphoric, or mythic in character. I am only just now turning on to the idea that myth and metaphor can be so profoundly important to us today, even in our science/fact-based world of empirical hegemony.

Myth tells us, informs us of who we are and how we got to be the way we are today. Looking back into the past...Preferably as far back as we can imagine, we can begin to find reasons in the how, why, wherefores and whats of our personal and corporate behaviors. Where does suffering come from? Why do we worry so much about food in times of drought? What is disease and sickness? Why do I hate, get angry, fret and resist...Whatever?

Look into any institutions history narrative and you will find some level, or layer of myth that seeks to explain why we are, the way we are. George Washington and the cherry tree, for example. What defines the virtue of honesty as a core doctrine in our expectations of leadership in North American, United States Culture. Why do we get so exercised when Presidents lie? Look to the Cherry Tree, an event that historians agree never happened, and yet it is so important to us to see it as an element of our common heritage.

Those myths are important, and they always contain truth. Problem is, we need them to be fact nowadays. And fact means that we MUST obey that assumed charter of efficacy.

Breaking down the code, that presents challenges for me as a rector. It is of paramount importance to me to hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the narrative of the parish, of the deanery and of the diocese to be effective in my work. It is important for the parish, deanery and diocese to realize that even though I have been here for a year, I am still learning. And (and this is important), both the institutions and I need to be open to changing. Changing myth. Changing story, and changing self.

So, same as Borg's thesis, we read the biblical and cultural narrative in order to learn and ponder how it is we got to the here and now. And, we live in a sort of post-critical naivete as we seek what comes next. To avoid literalism, we can't assume that the way it was, was indeed the way it always has been and should be. Also, we have to be willing to give up on reinventing the wheel all the time. The ancestors were not always wrong...Not all the time. ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment