bonar crump

bonar crump
husband - father - reader - runner - picker - grinner - lover - sinner

Monday, March 21, 2011

“Hi, my name is Bonar and I’m a heretic.”

I’ve just read the Preface to Rob Bell’s Love Wins and at the moment I’m withholding opinions. I don’t really like to fly through books. I like to savor them. I remember in college I use to challenge myself to see how much information I could retain in the shortest span of time possible. It was much like feeding a piece of lunch meat to a dog—gone in the blink of an eye. Nowadays, I like to read and reread chapters more like savoring a piece of chocolate cake making obnoxious sounds between each bite that my wife frowns at me about—but then again that’s why I make those noises.

But before I get into Mr. Bell’s book, I wanted to try to get down some thoughts and impressions about the subject matter at hand in an attempt to revisit after reading the book to test for changes in perspective brought about by Love Wins.

This is very simple to me and I don’t know why it seems to be that difficult for others. When you put down the scriptures, interpretations of scriptures, pontifications about scriptures, and theologies based on scriptures and turn around to face Jesus the conversation is very clear. See, now I’m already losing some of you because you’re under the impression that I’m speaking metaphorically. I am not. I actually mean instead of searching everywhere and beyond in the well-intentioned treasure hunt to discover just exactly what it is that HOWARD expects of us, why don’t we just ask HOWARD? (“Our Father, who art in Heaven, HOWARD be your name…”).

"Ok, now the dude’s actually trying to talk directly to God. They’re all a bunch of loons…"

Haven’t you ever been hanging out with friends having a few drinks listening to each other’s stories and someone tells a story that begins with, “I cannot believe I forgot to tell you guys this…”? Sometimes during one of those stories the storyteller will hit on a subject that makes everyone in the room cringe or shout or laugh simultaneously to which the speaker says, “I know! Can you believe that she actually said that?!” With loud reckless tones of unmitigated shock you’ll hear a chorus of, “O, My God!—You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me!—Holy Shit!” Some of the more chaste of the group will simply clap their hands to their mouth and gasp.

Why do these people respond with the same level of incredulity at exactly the same moment in relation to the exact same point of the story? Easy answer: It’s because they all share a commonly held belief that whatever just happened in the story is either hilarious, shameful, or scandalous. There’s no debate about what the appropriate response is to the situation—it’s a shared belief that transcends the need for each person to go around the room explaining what it means to each of them. It’s just damn funny and that’s all there is to it.

Now I’m not about to be the one to try to coach anyone on what the voice of HOWARD sounds like, but I will tell you what it is to me. It’s very distinctive and I rarely miss what’s being said. [You want me to say something beatific like it’s similar to a rush of wind, don’t you?] Rush of wind is a rush of wind, OK. What I’m talking about is clearer than that and is easily distinguishable from anything else. It’s an electronic tuner.

When you tune a guitar using an electronic tuner you select the string you want to check (E,A,D,G,B,E) on the tuner and then you strum that string. If the string is out of tune the indicator will tell you whether to tighten the string or loosen it until you hit the correct pitch at which point an LED light shines to indicate that your string is now in tune. Repeat 5 more times.

What I’m looking for in Rob Bell’s and other’s books is NOT to find out whether their ideas, perceptions, or presuppositions line up with my preconceived notions. It’s to see if they light up the LED light in me that tells me they are speaking clear TRUTH. Now you should be asking, “how in the hell are you supposed to know when the light goes on unless you already know what the proper pitch is?” That’s the miracle. That’s what some call the Holy Spirit. That’s the reason I stand firmly on the foundational principle that HOWARD’S voice IS the electronic tuner. Get it? God in us. The Divine Whatever in us. The Great Universal Consciousness in us. Whatever you want to call it, it is TRUTH and it is hard to mistake for anything other than something outside of us and bigger than us that converses with us somewhere in our torso. Yes, I said torso because that’s where it hits me. You can have yours in your left calf muscle for all I care…

The kicker is that when you experience TRUTH—the kind that takes you by surprise and makes you instantly stand up and spontaneously shout, “Holy Snotlicker!” then you know you’ve seen the pitch indicator light. It’s certainly not a foolproof means of testing TRUTH, but there are going to be some of you that know what I’m talking about. I’ve met Atheists, Agnostics, Jews, Presbyterians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and even a few Baptists that know how to read the electronic tuner inside of them—although the Baptists carry theirs in their ass—I know, I’ve got baggage.

But before any of my Christian friends go running off into the night screaming “OMG, he’s a heretic,” let me ask one simple question: If only the Christians have an electronic tuner within them that lights up when they run up against TRUTH then how does anyone outside the “flock” ever come to meet Jesus? I mean, if the Evangelical Christian’s stance is that a Buddhist wouldn’t know TRUTH  if it slapped them on the back of the neck then how would a Buddhist ever recognize the TRUTH of Jesus when confronted with it? Let it gel awhile and get back to me on that one because these questions aren’t entirely fair because they are leading and overly simplifying something which is profoundly complex in its simplicity (it’s called a paradox, folks). But think on it some because there is some little nugget there in those two questions which lights up the pitch indicator LED.

If you’re carrying a preconceived pitch in your head and using it to tell you when others are in tune then you aren’t getting it. If you’re blindly walking about just listening for any tone that sounds pleasing then you aren’t getting it. If you are a seeker with a real hunger for the kind of music that warms you, inspires you, and drowns out the cacophony of miscellaneous noise surrounding you all day long then you, my friend, get it. The others have the electronic tuner in them but they either don’t know how to use it, refuse to use it, or have been convinced that they aren’t adequately trained to use their tuner on their own.

That’s why I’ve walked away from the religious practices of Christianity. I got sick and tired of having well-intentioned folks try to convince me that I was reading my tuner incorrectly--that my tuner was obviously malfunctioning—that if I’d just trust the pastor's tuner then we’d all be in tune with one another. Never again do I intend to be in tune with a group of people that are “singing” so off pitch. At times it was like being in a chorus line with 1500 tone deaf American Idol wannabes. A person can only sit and hold their fingers in their ears for so long before they develop a migraine. But that’s a whole other story…

My experience with Rob Bell’s other books leads me to believe that the LED indicator will be going off and on with regularity. I’m looking forward to gaining some new perspectives as I always do from the books that I read.We'll see...

“Hi, my name is Bonar and I’m a heretic.”

How not to Read the Bible

by Donald Miller

"I almost made a mistake the other day of opening the Bible with an agenda. I’d had an idea about a certain “Biblical principal” and I wanted to check a text to see if I was right. Then I realized that’s a slippery slope. There’s not a lot you can’t use the Bible to support. And besides that, if the Bible is designed to be a constitution, it’s horribly organized. I had to put myself in check.

This isn’t an easy thing to do. If you drop your preconceived grid when you go to the Bible, you may in fact find out that the grid you had been filtering the Bible through isn’t as concrete as you previously thought, and you may then have to admit that you were wrong. I wonder if our grids aren’t so solid for this reason, rather than as supposed guardrails to keep us from straying from the truth. What I mean is, a grid can help you understand the truth as much as it can cause you to reject the truth. When I hear a pastor or theologian speak in concrete terms about their grid, and especially when they defend that grid with emotion, I trust them less, not more. I trust them less because their paradigm is fixed, and they simply aren’t open to Biblical interpretations that contend with the ideas upon which they’ve stated and defend, ideas associated with their identities and even their financial security.

In my opinion, it is dangerous for seminaries to teach students a fixed grid that is not open to change or evolution. I trust an academic institution much less when they have only one interpretation of scripture rather than multiple interpretations that contend with one another. If the search is for truth, we can’t reject debate. This is not to say there is no truth, it’s only to say all of heaven hardly fits inside a mans head. And any man who says it does has made something small of heaven and something rather large of his head."