My nearly 4 year old daughter has a sleeping issue. That issue being she doesn’t sleep! Finally this evening she has gone to bed at a reasonable hour so I can dedicate some time to actually writing a blog post. I wasn’t sure I would be able to even do that as my 8 month baby is teething and unwell and I have only just managed to transfer her sleeping form from my chest without her waking and once more needing mummy.
I have been having some wonderful conversations about how religion (mainly Christianity) fits into everyday life for people of faith. I have had some debates on parts of the bible and different interpretations thereof. How politics and religion do or don’t work together, and when Messianic Judaism became Christianity.
I had a thought as I got into bed last night, can an atheist become a religious preacher, just by being empathetic? I understand the morals in the stories, and they go far deeper than ‘have faith in God and all will be good’. I understand why people need faith and enjoy encouraging people to stick with it, we all have faith in something, be it g-d or ‘knowing’ that a course of action will lead to a certain set of consequences. I’d need to study religious texts more, but could I lead a congregation through a story, help people to relate to that story and find hope in it without being faithful to their God? Is it allowed?
I think it ought to be, an English teacher doesn’t have to believe in ways of the American’s during the depression to read Of Mice and Men to a class room of students, to deliver the morals within the story, to help the students relate to the characters. I don’t see how it should be different if I want to do the same to a group of people using a religious story. I find them fascinating, the Semiotics in biblical stories can be quite mesmerising at times, and the messages of hope can influence even atheists because a belief in God is not a necessity for having hope.
It’s all about seeing a world in a grain of sand, of holding eternity in the palm of your hand. Opening your mind to the possibilities, seeing the smile of contentment on people’s faces when a question is answered. Lifting the veil of gloom that seems to be settled on Western ‘civilisation’. Why should lecturing from the Bible be any different from lecturing from another book of stories? Like Greek or Norse mythology. We may no longer believe in those gods but we sure as anything can learn from them. It’s the stories themselves which are important, it’s knowing the minds and time of the authors that lead us to better interpretations. It’s relating the past to the present, old beliefs to new ones, moral for moral.
Morals are a code of conduct, they change over time as people, situations and circumstances change. The reader at the lectern, in a church or lecture hall has to tailor ancient texts to the present day so that we can understand it with our modern minds and lives. I feel I can do this too. So as I am researching theology I would love to take a turn in the pulpit, to educate, encourage and support. Me and the community reaching further into the depths of our minds and of faith, understanding what makes us tick. Enjoying the retelling of age old stories in the company of other enthusiasts.