Summer Reading, Part Two

I am excited to meet this week for the first of your summer reads – A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  (If you can make this months discussion please join us next month for Shift Happens by Robert Holden). I enjoy hearing about what people are reading, everything from mysteries to deep theologically challenging books. I do know someone who is making the Bible their summer read. This is someone who is not normally a reader of the Bible. This is one book that seems to generate the most passion both for and against the merits of reading it.  Because of this, I thought I’d share some thoughts that John Chuchman, one of our facilitators, had on the topic.

“For me,
the odd, disjointed compilation
of ancient Hebrew texts and later Greek texts
called the Bible
has lost its claims to historical truth,
or to supernatural revelation.

As history and revelation,
Bible stories have long ago fallen away;
almost nothing that happens in it
actually happened;
its miracles, large and small,
are of the same kind and credibility
as all the other miracles
that crowd the world’s great granary of superstition.

Only a handful of fundamentalists read it literally,
despite debunking by experts
and critical reason.

If I read the books and verses of the Bible
it is because they tell beautiful stories,
stirring and seductive.

I explore the stories in the Bible
 because they are transfixing stories,
dense and compelling.

The beauty of the Song of Songs
or the poetic hum of the Psalms
 are beautiful as poetry alone can be.

They were best translated into our own language
in the highest period of English prose and verse,
in Shakespeare’s rhythms and vocabulary
making them more seductive.

These are good tales and great poetry,
and I do not worry about their sources.
I read them as fiction
 as I read all good stories,
for their perplexities
as much as for their obvious points.

I can be stirred by the Bible
as enduring moral inquiry,
working to translate the knots of the Bible stories
into acceptable, contemporary, and even universal ethical truths.

I think that
enduring moral teaching can be found
in the Bible's stories.

I read Bible stories with intellectual detachment,
and a sense that the Bible is
an extraordinary compilation about human nature and

In reading Bible stories
I also learn that I need more.
I am fed up with
the stolid apparent meanings of its verse,
 searching for deeper meanings that enrich me.

In defying logic
Bible stories invite imagination,
and as a fictional creation,
its ideas about Deity remain compelling,
 in their plurality.

I neither believe nor doubt
as I read Bible stories,
but remain suspended in Wonder
where good reading really takes place anyway.”
What are your thoughts about reading the Bible?? Feel free to share your summer reads! I have a feeling many of you are looking for some more books to enjoy, to be challenged by, and to take you to that place of Wonder.