Saturday, July 31, 2010

Abraham Pleds for Sodom and Gomorrah

Genesis 18:20-32 is the story of Abraham negotiating with the Lord to spare the cities if there are 50, 40, 30, 20 or just 10 righteous to be found in the city. Now I'm not sure why it says "city" since it sounds as if Sodom and Gomorrah are two places. Time to ask google I guess. After browsing a bit I'm not sure that Gomorrah features too strongly. So for now let's just ask what was demonstrated by the text? It was one of the readings in mass I think just last week.

Obviously two points are being made. The first is that even Abraham thinks there is a lot amiss in Sodom, for his first figure is 50 righteous. We don't know how big a place Sodom was. This doesn't sound like a very large percentage of the population though. So Abraham doesn't think much of this bunch. The Lord says He'll spare the city if 50 righteous can be found. Then Abraham proceeds to negotiate Him down. Abraham had to feel pretty comfortable with God to just start this kind of a conversation. The Lord is demonstrating both that He is a friend of Abraham, after all He's made these generous promises to him, and that He is merciful. Of course we will find soon enough that there are not even ten righteous men in Sodom.

Chapter 19 tells the story of Lot and the events that overtook the angels when they reached Sodom. There are a number of very bizarre features to the story, not the least the willingness of Lot to give his daughters to the crowd. What is that all about? The refusal of the crowd suggests that they wanted to sexually abuse men not women, hence no doubt the fact that this event has generally been seen as a condemnation of sodomy. Certainly it seems much more than mere lack of hospitality. The story ends with an even more bizarre event which is Lot's daughters getting him drunk so they can have their will with him and preserve the family line. These must have been really ugly daughters or the area must have really been short of men, at least men that would be acceptable suitors. So what is this all about? The video below shows you what the site of Sodom and Gomorrah looks like today. I wondered as I watched it if anyone was allowed to actually cut into the ash and see if the apparent city walls and such were really in there. Fascinating question. SEE THIS ACCOUNT


Saturday, the Sabboth ... has come and I've been thinking about what I want to do with the Bible Surfing blog. I really like thinking about religious themes and reading the scripture. I'm not all that sure what my beliefs about the scripture are and I think I talked about that some time back.

I'm in a men's bible group and we meet once a week, although I often can't make it since I have conflicts on Thursday nights fairly often. Each of the men uses one or more translations of their choice and that's at least part of the fun of it. We're always getting into something like: "Read your verse twelve again! I can't believe it. It says almost the exact opposite of my verse 12." We're reading proverbs right now. Other times it's just an argument over adjectives or the emphasis.

Things like that make me a little reluctant to imagine that the bible, at least in translation, is the word for word literal word of God. Sorry, too many problems with that. This doesn't mean that the original documents were not Divine Revelation, although I think a rigid dictation theory is ridiculous too.

C.S. Lewis makes the point about John 7:17 17If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. — Lewis takes this as meaning that true understanding of God's teaching requires an obedient heart before all else.

I think it is important to read scripture broadly too and not merely expect to understand the meaning by proof texting. Every scrap of scripture occurs in a context and understanding demands not only understanding the text but understanding the context in which it was written and delivered. Failing that we are likely to generalize from specific guidance and vice versa.

I've been thinking that maybe I'll just start putting up reflections possibly on the scriptures the men's bible group are reading or perhaps what spiritual books the spiritual book club is reading. I'll probably go back and do a little more Genesis too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stopping By ...

It will soon be a year since I've added anything to BibleSurfing and I actually feel rather regretful about that. When I started I didn't have any particular plan of action or anything, just the thought that I was interested in a ramble through scripture so I started at the beginning. I didn't really have any intention of moving linearly through the bible, although that was pretty much what I did at the beginning. I'm going to try to turn over a new leaf and get back to at least some regular contributions.

I'm a member of a little spiritual book club at church. There are just a few of us. We pick some spiritual book to read each month. Sometimes we take a few months to go through a book. Since I'm a member of three book clubs, that one, one on C.S. Lewis and another on G.K. Chesterton, I'm always reading a few books.

I think I'll try to figure out a pattern of meditation to use as my rule for working on this blog. I'll share that as I figure it out.

The book we are working through right now is a good one. It's called "Devotional Classics" and you can see it at Amazon HERE So far we're only in the second section. It has 52 weeks of readings with discussion questions which can be used for personal reflection and meditation. It's ecumenical so there are readings from all sorts of Christian sources. Worth a look if you're looking for a book for a spiritual book club.