From my new favorite twitter stream:
God claims to have carried the Israelites on eagles' wings. When the hell did that happen? GOD IS NOT GANDALF. Breaking Bible
I enjoyed this piece StJohn
The best I can do for Christians is suspect that most of them do not accept the Bible as literal truth, even the people who do claim to take it literally. It’s the most generous benefit of the doubt I can give to religious people of all stripes — that they are not mad enough to believe things that are obviously wrong, but simply appreciate the moral and emotional guidance their religion gives them. -I know some Christians that would fit this description and they're FAR more interesting to have religious conversations with than those that take it "literally" but really only take it "literally" where it suits them.
I found myself being a staunch agnostic, arguing that christianity was full of hypocrisy, false claims and bizarre magical feats, which of course it is. But I had only vague knowledge of the bible from my time in catholic school. -I had done everything I could to not let the text sink in.
Therefore, as an adult I decided to take a year long bible study class. We met every Wednesday night in the upstairs of a United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor MI. There were 12 of us in the class ranging from age 18 to about 55. I was the one skeptic and I will say that the rest of the group was so kind to me. They heard my responses to the passages and text and attempted to address my "concerns". I made some life long friends from that class, it was a lovely experience.
One of my favorite moments is when I was speaking with Pastor Tracey about the nature of God. She mentioned that God was "truth". I said, there are many paths to the "truth", why should Christianity be the "one"? She said that the key in life was not to pick a certain path, but to pick a path. What she was trying to say was that everyone needs a compass. Whether that compass is the Silmarillion, the Quran or the Bible, the key is to pick one. -Her advice. Admittedly, this was a very liberal church :)
It sounds like you are still in the Old Testament, which can be a bear to get through at times. Good luck. I will say that Jesus sort of changes everything regarding the bible. The New Testament literally meant a "new covenant" between man and God. The way I saw it, it was like erasing the chalk board and starting over. Oh God, did we really say the flood was only 20 some odd feet deep... let's just start all over. Cue Jesus please.
Then Christ comes and his teachings are pretty amazing. From that entire year, what really resonated with me were the teachings of Christ. What really, really resonated with me was how off base most christians seem to be considering what it is he taught and said.
I left the year long bible study course with a greater understanding of the bible. I left with a sense of great respect and awe for what Jesus taught, so much so that it pisses me off to see christians misrepresent it. While I still remain largely agnostic, I do think as far as a "path" goes, the teachings of Christ are a good way to go. Just ignore the rest of that crazy-bizarre chalk board. -including the resurrection etc. Stick to the teachings as a moral compass.
So, be careful. You might just leave your reading of the bible with a bit more affection for Jesus. -He was a good fella.
I've mentioned this before, but my favorite christian quote (and I'm paraphrasing) comes from St. Francis
At all times preach the gospel, and when necessary use words. -If only more people were like this, regardless of their "path".
Related post TJ -my kind of bible.