Bible stripped bare

February 8, 2010:

After church this morning, I am once again terribly frustrated over my ambivalence about the Bible. It is wedged like a thorn in my psyche. As much as I want to be rid of it, my whole life seems oriented around it: my Christian sub-culture, my career, and the reigning epistemic foundation of most of my friends and family. The Bible is the sun around which my entire life has been orbiting. And yet I don’t believe it should be the sun…Hence the profound and constant disorientation.

How can I be reoriented? Is it possible? Can I suddenly believe that BIBLE = GOD’S WORD again? How can I forget what I learned? Would God want me to forget?

I can honestly affirm that the Bible is God’s Word, but I’d have to add the oral and written traditions of the Catholic Church, the Apocrypha, and other ‘inspired’ works.

Because the Bible has been reified as the Magic Book dropped from God Himself, I have an incredibly difficult time trying to live out my altered beliefs about what God’s Word is [i.e. That Which includes the Bible but so much more]. Therefore, I have decided to buy a New Testament without headings or chapter/verse numbers. I will excise all but Jesus’s words, and I will make the proto-canon [firstly accepted writings] my canon for now.

As a last-ditch effort to salvage my Bible-based life, I bought a stripped-down version of the New Testament that contained only plain text: no headings, chapter or verse numbers, cross references, maps, illustrations, etc. By doing this, I hoped to somehow dig down beneath the layers of encrusted bookness and thingness of the Bible in order to hear the living message of the words more clearly. I even went so far as to cover the book in camouflage tape so that it would blend in to the wilderness environment where I read it in the mornings. This was a desperate attempt to ground Heaven in Earth, to pull God’s Living Word out of the ethereal realm of textuality and plant it again in the soil-body of Nature. I needed to read scripture in the world at large, to see the language of the Bible as the same language through which the mind of God was inscribed in the bodies of the cosmos.

By stripping the words of Jesus down to the barest essentials, I hoped to reveal the kernel of truth long concealed under the corruptions of history.

By dressing these same words in camouflaged clothing, I hoped to conceal their book-bound location so I could see their truth wherever else it is written.

Both moves were attempts to eradicate my deeply rooted bibliolatry. In the first move – stripping the text bare – I wanted to reduce the bookness of the message by removing several bookish features. In the second move – camouflaging the cover – I wanted to dissolve the bookness by disguising the message’s unmistakable bookish form.

In the end, neither strategy succeeded. Even a New Testament with plain text and a camo cover could not hide the fact that God’s Word was still lodged in a biblos.

That slim volume would become the last Bible I would make a habit of reading.

I needed out.

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