I'm overwhelmed by Bible reading for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I've been a Christian for about, oh, two DECADES, and I still haven't the foggiest idea why a lot of the Bible is, uh, IN the Bible. (Those minor prophets? That whole circumcision thing? Kinda weird, I think. The wrath of God, and how it seems like he keeps changing his mind on the Israelites? I will smite you, I won't smite you. Ack.)
ANYWAY. Now that I've made it sufficiently clear that much of the Bible confuses me to the point of eating straight Ben and Jerry's Liberal Nut Ice Cream (that's a joke, but that would be a good flavor name)...let me share two things that have given me hope of late.
From the book, Understanding Difficult Scriptures in a Healing Way:
If any interpretation of a scripture passage is not consistent with my life experience of authentically giving and receiving love, then I am not understanding what God wants to say to me through that passage. Love is the criterion [for a whole interpretation of scripture].
I appreciate this philosophy because it eliminates the possibility of using scripture as a means to promote hatred, judgment, racism, sexism, and on and on it goes. If love is the lens through which we read our Bibles, well, then it will make us more conscientious of how we treat others "in the name of Jesus."
Okay, second item on my list. Maryann, this is straight from you, so I hope you quoted Dorothy Sayers correctly:
Language, however strong, violent, or emphatic will expunge from the mind of the average anti-Christian the picture he has formed of Christian Soteriology, viz: that Jehovah (the old man with the beard) made the world and made it so badly that it all went wrong and he wanted to burn it up in a rage; whereat the Son (who was younger and nicer, and not implicated in his Father's irresponsible experiment) said: "Oh, don't do that! If you must torment somebody, take it out of me." So Jehovah vented his sadistic spite on a victim who had nothing to do with it all, and thereafter begrudgingly allowed people to go to heaven if they provided themselves with a ticket of admission signed by the Son...This grotesque mythology is not in the least exaggerated: it is what they think we mean.
So when I'm having trouble fathoming all that is Christianity, I step back and remember that sometimes it IS really overwhelming, and that I must continue to know Jesus and God in a context that isn't the world's. Does that make sense? No. If I buy this story, this story that Jesus is a big weeeeeeirdo who died because his father had an anger problem, then of COURSE it will be hard to stick with it.
But because I know that LOVE is the criterion, I know there's so much more to it than that. And that's enough to keep me hoping for the beautiful things, like peace.