Agnostic Bible Study


I’ve taken a poll among various Christians in my life, told them about how it seemed right and fitting to me to listen to some guy on Youtube read the Gospel of Mark on Christmas Day as I was making a pie (it turned out well and I for me I do feel like the ability to make a good pie crust is up there with the time I got my MFA and the time I didn’t have cancer anymore, just like a serious Monumental Life Achievement) and apparently the next one I should try is…Luke!

Reading/listening to the Bible is an odd thing for me to be doing, primarily because I’m not a Christian. I’m not anything, really, other than a person who wishes The Force was real. But I did grow up going to a very conservative Evangelical church. It’s called Calvary Chapel. People who go there seem to really like claiming that it is non-denominational. Calvary Chapel has a big focus on Hell, and The Rapture, and The End times, and other things that I’m still terrified of if I’m being completely honest, even though there is sadly little else about the faith I was raised with that has stayed with me. It’s not rational for me to be afraid of those things after leaving the faith because I decided it didn’t make sense for me. But I’m also somewhat afraid of zombies, and I hold my breath on bridges and in tunnels so that things won’t collapse. Being afraid of The Eternal Fires of Hell is different than being superstitious, sure. But maybe they’re somehow related.

I reached out to a handful of Christians in my life in the days after the election. I wanted to let them know that I saw them responding compassion and grace to all kinds of angry people, and that while I didn’t share their faith anymore, the picture of it that they were presenting to the world was something really beautiful, and something that I respected, and something that I was glad for them to have. These are Christians who – I mean, I don’t know for sure who they voted for. I just know for sure that they don’t discriminate, that they display seemingly endless generosity, patience, and kindness, that they are the kind of people who sacrifice for others often and sometimes in big ways. My heart was very hard in those days after the election, and these the people who made me want to figure out how to stop being so angry. Look at me. “My heart was hard.” Still using Christianese.

And then there I was, on Christmas Day, making a pie and deciding to listen to Mark. And I’m sure that some people would say “Oh, God was leading you.” I’m not interested in arguing with them. For me it was more that I realized how angry and vindictive I’d been feeling towards Christians across the board, in particular because I decided that they were a bunch of hypocrites who were misinterpreting and cherry-picking their own holy book. And then inner me was like “Okay, you haven’t read the whole thing, either. Be able to back up what you say if you feel that way about it.”

And so I listened to the whole thing from start to finish. It was only about an hour and a half. I was astounded to discover that I wasn’t bored. Making a pie might have been part of it. I’m ADHD. I hate doing one thing at a time.

But I could not have been more surprised that I thought it was interesting, that I thought it had a pretty good structure, and that I thought several of the characters were fairly well defined. Jesus is…kind of funny. At least the way Mark tells it.

So I’m give Luke a try next, because I’m interested to see if I’m interested. I was never all that interested before. Just afraid. Which, it turns out, was not a great base for a deep and enduring faith.

I obviously have to be very careful who I chose to share this with, meaning that strangers on the internet can know about it but it’s nothing I’d discuss with my parents as they’d likely get excited and think I’m going to start going to church again, when I am most assuredly not because I like my Sunday mornings as they are. On the couch, with my man, listening to “StarTalk” and enjoying the scones we just made.

Is there a point to my revisiting a few books of the Bible? Maybe. Maybe not.

I’ve been called an “angry atheist,” which is untrue, because I’m not an atheist. I’m just not that confident. That was another one of the problems I had with the faith I was raised it. When I started learning a bit about what it meant to be Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, etc. – as soon as the concept of faith as something you could chose made sense to me, it made sense to me that you could choose wrong. You could absolutely believe something, and just…Be Wrong.

I am angry about some things. That part is accurate.

Who knows if reading the Bible a little bit will help?

Probably not Leviticus though because fuck that guy.