Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Scripture

Today's blog post is musings on a quote worth reading. It is an excerpt from Kenaz Filan's blog. It is titled "On Holy Writ".

"Today many Reconstructionists treat ancient texts as sacred scriptures.  Yet this is a modern view, certainly not the intention of the original writers or of their audience.  It is, of course, difficult to establish the authorial or editorial intent of the original writers and compilers of most holy scriptures.  It is not difficult to prove that these texts have been re-edited and re-interpreted throughout their history. One sect's apocrypha is another sect's canon, and one generation's heretic is another generation's prophet.  The battles which have arisen among Reconstructionists as they struggle with inclusion and interpretation are part and parcel of scripturally-based faiths.  Words can be set in stone: their meaning is far more fluid.

The idea is not to say the exact words our hundred-generations-removed ancestors used in their ceremonies while using the correct dialect and wearing a ceremonial robe woven out of period-appropriate fabrics. The idea is to re-establish the connection those ancestors had with their Gods and the ways in which they interacted with the world.  Instead of seeing them as part of a mythic Golden Age set apart from us, we should understand them as a process which began long before us and will continue long after we are gone.  We still fight their ongoing battles; we reap the benefits of their achievements; we carry the terrible burdens of their failures."- Kenaz Filan

As you can imagine, I am with Kenaz on this one. I am a Witch and not some other stripe of pagan that reads books and does research as a spiritual practice. While I study all kinds of theology and love a good read (my occult library is ever-growing); I do not use these books as the source of my practice, devotion, or theology.

Scripture (meaning a book that directs people's actions, thoughts, and ethics) is not something I am overly fond of and feel that without careful guarding against such a fate, it can stunt a religion into fundamentalist thinking over time. (I was actually delighted to learn that in the history of Judaism there were factions of folks who were not in favor of writing everything down for fear of just that.) Religions of the book are always playing politics with who gets included and how. Editing is a political act just as much as writing is.

What do you think? I know I have many readers that belong to "religions of the book". How do you work around passages that may be problematic to an evolving view (say, embracing all sexualities or hating slavery and incest)? I would love to hear from folks on how they tackle these kinds of problems in scripture.

1 comment:

  1. I would say Scriptures are advice, not commands. Going back to something you said earlier, we are all God. There's a lovely bit of advice in the New Testament: everything is allowed; is it gonna be helpful.

    We should see them as letters from friends, if they are helpful (regardless of tradition).

    Blessed Be.


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