I was walking down the old dirt paths and slowly navigating my way through the landmine of pinecones and taking in each snapshot of scenery that dripped with raw beauty. I was taken in by all the things around me. The sweet harmonious melodies of the birds singing in choired unison and the romantic whispered chirpings of the cicadas’ calling me deeper into the forest, deeper into the night. It is this call that leads me to wonder if there is more to life than a book? Is all that life is, summed up in the pages of 66 authors?
I wouldn’t be able to share with you my experience in a captivating forest if all I did was read about the forest. I might be able to give you glimpses and a sort of scientific approach to what it might feel like if I were in a forest, but the experience is vastly different than the science. One is factual, the other is life-altering. This isn’t to say that facts don’t have the ability to change our lives, but studies have shown that one out of one person are always changed by their experiences, whether good or bad. I could have explained to you a map of the forest, but it wouldn’t have given you the contours, colors and outlines that you can only experience in person.
You can sit down and read a really good book. You might even feel like you are one of the characters drifting through each of the pages, but there is nothing like living your own story. If we replace the word living with writing, then maybe what we might be able to say is that all of us are still writing not just our story, but God’s story as well. We get to write with Him. In The Bible: The Biography by Karen Armstrong, she asserts that before the Old Testament was canonized that the Jews had this belief that they were responsible to reinterpret scripture as much as possible so that it was relevant and spoke to the current structures of society. In fact, one place, she even says that they had thrown out certain parts of scripture because it wasn’t relevant to the time. For most, this is a different view to what we have been taught(but just because it’s different doesn’t mean its not true). And if it is true, then what are the ripples in the pond? I think for those who believe the Bible holds all the answers then it seems like an attack rather than an enquiry, because it seems a bit reductionistic to try and make the Bible anything other than the Word of God. Yet, this is isn’t the hope of postmoderns or those with questions. It is to experience God as those in scripture did. So rather than see the bible as trail map to be studied, it is more like an invitation between friends to come and walk with God and discover the raw unedited beauty of the journey. To come and discover God. To “taste and see that he is good”. Both words for taste and see in the Hebrew when translated mean “to experience”. God is inviting us all not to simply read the pages, but live the pages. Write the pages. And Be the pages.
Postmodernism is running through the halls of our churches and fortune 500 companies and classrooms, but is postmodernism the enemy? Can’t postmodernism be a good thing too? It can help us revisit things and begin asking hard questions that maybe aren’t that comfortable but might be necessary to pursue together to find the answers to. Postmodernism is simply asking the question “Is there more to life than this? Is there more to the Bible than this? Is there more to truth than this?” The ancient Jewish followers of YHWH believed it was imperative to ask questions. To be Jew meant you had questions. To be a person who lived and breathed meant you were a person who was driven to seek answers to those questions, no matter how long the journey took. No matter where those questions took you, it was your responsibility as a Jew to make sure you found the answer.