I had a very interesting conversation with my mom this evening. We were discussing faith and the bible. She was trying to convince me that the Bible is the word of God and I tried to explain the Bible was written based on perception and the truth of the person writing the book at the time.
Without getting into an in-depth analysis of the two books in the Bible, I used the example of Lamentations and The Psalms. Lamentations is by its very definition, a cry, a mourning. The Psalms on the other hand is supposed to be uplifting and songs to inspire. What is written in both is so starkly different, that if the inspiration comes from the same divine being, is it really so?
The Lamentations is about the historical account of the Jewish people for the loss they feel at the destruction of their city.
It’s widely accepted, though unproven, that the prophet Jeremiah is the author of the book. It is his perception and feelings of desolation at the destruction of Jerusalem that inspired these writings. We get a good sense of what happened, the raw emotions felt and expressed through his supposed writings. But the question remains, does this belong in The Bible as it is used? To what purpose? Is it supposed to show how unmerciful God is, to know in advance of the destruction coming, and in his omnipotence, not stop or prevent King Nebuchadnezzar from destroying the Holy City and bring “famine, pestilence and sword” upon his “chosen” people?
It can be argued that even in the face of such desolation that people found hope, and the will to live again, and this is why it belongs in the Bible. But I argue, if per chance the prophet Jeremiah, who foresaw these things happening and then lived to write about it, did not, and some other person, without the gift of sight who wrote of his perceptions, would we be reading about it today and taking it as the Word of God in what’s termed The Holy Bible?
Then we have the Book of Psalms. Generally thought to have been written by David, unproven yet again. Mostly these are uplifting songs, designed to inspire, translated from ancient Hebrew, to Latin, to early English, to our current English. How much has been lost or modified in translation? They are pleas to God to destroy those deemed unworthy, and in the next verses, pleas for mercy.
When one reads these verses one gets the idea that either the author or his God is vengeful or absolutely merciful.
Actually much of the Old Testament is written much of the same way. Historical accounts, based on the perceptions of the author. Whether God is vengeful or merciful depends on the writer’s interpretation of events. It hardly provides a useful guide to humanity to live a life of light, positivity, inclusiveness, and above all, forgiveness and love. Yet we are preached to that God is of love and we ought to forgive our transgressors. But the evidence used perpetrates hatred and bigotry, discrimination and justification for these behaviors.
I suppose the next argument would be, well that comes in the New Testament, after Jesus came. Then is it fair to Christians that the Old Testament is part and parcel of their indoctrination? Even the books of the New Testament are written by different authors and are historical recollections of situations, written long after the death of Jesus. Stories, while somewhat similar in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are all different because they were perceived differently by each author and based on recollections of events from decades prior.
I could go on and on about this, but at the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is, each person who wrote the books of the Bible wrote their truth, their perception of events and their interpretation of those events.
I believe in God. I believe there is a higher being. I walk outside and look at the stars, the sky, the sun, the moon, the oceans, the trees, the birds and all of creation, humans and animals, and in each thing that lives and breathes, I see God. When I feel the wind kiss my cheeks, I know there is divinity. God lives in me. It is the air I breathe and the complexities of the human anatomy that reinforce that I am not here by accident. I don’t need to be told to forgive or to love, or to be a good, decent and kind person. That is who I am, because God and everything that I believe to be Godly lives within me.
We each live our truth. My truth may be different from yours, but it doesn’t make it wrong. When you live your truth, and you do it with an open and honest heart, how can you say or believe anything that hurts another? Take basic human rights away from an individual? Believe that a person should stop living their truth and ascribe to yours? We all have a different path on this planet, some of us walk alone, some choose to walk as a group. What we must not do, is live another’s truth.
**I’m not a biblical scholar so forgive my mistakes, if any, in reference to Psalms or Lamentations**