Wednesday, April 13, 2005


The Bible blogging project -- one of those lovely coalescences of cyberspace. I thought I'd make an interfaith leap and try to write something, but this week's lectionary brought me to a standstill.

Acts 2:47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

This is where Christianity loses me. This smug tone. My son takes it on when he's hit a sweet spot in his computer game, and he's slaughtering foes left and right, because -- due to some wrinkle of the game -- he's invincible. He'll talk in the same obsessive sort of way, leaning on numbers as if they were qualities. Carefully ennumerating the number of wins, as though it signified. Celebrating forgone conclusions as victories. Acts is filled with this sort of triumph. They're on the eve of complete victory, after all; Jesus is going to wrap this up within a generation.

And then even in that extraordinary, beautiful psalm, the gloating. The fact that I am receiving all this in the sight of my enemies, so they can fruitlessly envy me, puts the cherry on the sundae:

Psalms 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

The saturating metaphor of the shepherd and the fold --

1 Peter 2:25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

And again --

John 10:1 Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit.

Here we come to it. The protection of the Lord is known by the fact that some are not under it. This verse is speaking directly to me, directly to someone who might try to blog the Bible without being a Christian. I have no business here. I am a thief and a bandit, working evil.

Always, in my long acquaintance with Christianity, I strike this point, where the door is slammed in my face. Trying to find enlightenment in some other way is not just mistaken, or doomed to failure -- it is malicious.

I don't mind that they think they're right. Of course they do. Everyone does. I don't even mind that they think everyone else is wrong. We may well be. But to say "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" is to say a great deal more than that.

I stand at the barbed wire, watching the wind ruffle the grass.

I am a stranger, and they will run from me. I turn and walk back down the hill. I can only wish them well, from a distance.

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