Hello bored internet user (and Mom). My name is Cam, and this Fall I’ll be a 3rd year Biblical Studies major at Trinity Western University. Aside from Christianity, philosophy, history, humanity, faith, love, and all the other things I’ll end up discussing here, I have a huge passion for music which I probably won’t discuss very often on this blog at all, because I already discuss it way too much, essentially everywhere I am, no matter who I am with–sorry to my friends, I love you all. Speaking of which, I have the most beautiful friends in the world. They love me and care about
me, even when I’m a total fool, which is basically all of the time. I have a loving family who cares about me and is brave enough to send me to a school where I will rack up more student debt than anyone else in the country. I love learning. As I learn and study the world around me, I see the beautiful creativity of God. But of anywhere I see the face of God in creation, the people in my life who love me and care about me are where I see him most. I love people, I care a lot about people, and I believe in a world where people can learn to get better at loving each other (call me crazy). That’s just enough background, for now, for you to understand where I’m coming from.
“Well golly!” you say. “He seems like a pretty alright guy after one paragraph! I wonder why he’s so dang frustrated?”
Or, if you’re my loving mother you’d say, “What is your blog called?” … “Why’s it called that??” And then I have to explain to you that you’ll just have to read my blog post, Mom, since I’m clearly still 16 and you don’t understand me. (I say these things as facetiously as possible. I love you, Mom.)
Well random reader, (and Mom), the truth is, the fact that I care so much about humanity and the world is a recipe for frustration on its own. The world is a depressing place where depressed people do depressing things to other depressed people. And as a Christian, I sometimes can feel trapped within a system which has, throughout history, caused hurt, strife, war, and hatred, and has supported slavery, racism, misogyny, homophobia, political corruption, and militant individualism. “So leave the church…” some might say. Of course it isn’t that easy. You see, here’s the thing. I love church. In fact part of studying the Bible, for me, comes with the hope that I might be able to find a career serving in church. I love serving in church, being involved in church, and doing life with the people I go to church with. I love what the church stands for at its essence: the love of ones neighbor–and one’s enemy, community living, consistent fellowship, encouragement, support, creativity, and most of all, belief in the Gospel, the story of restoration to a broken humanity and a broken world, through the loving actions of one flawless man–the son of God himself, fully human and fully divine. And I love that this gospel involves people who choose to turn from self-righteousness and individual living and follow him as he seeks to save the poor, the powerless, the lost, and the lonely; as screwed up and flawed as we may be, we get to join in God’s mission to restore Creation. If Christianity is really that similar to The Lord of the Rings, then I am all for it! And when I read the Bible, that’s what I’m convinced God intends Christianity to be–not The Lord of the Rings, but similar to The Lord of the Rings–a divine narrative of redemption, love (I don’t skip through the Sam and Frodo parts), adventure, risk taking, and an epic battle between the forces of good and evil in the world. But I don’t think this is what Christianity sees itself as.
The problem is, Christians really love reading the Bible–LET ME FINISH–and we really like interpreting it to a) support something we’ve already been told (this is most common, in my experience, but we do it without even realizing it), b) support something we have previously decided on our own, or c) be encouraging (I’m okay with this one actually, you can use Jeremiah 29:11 out of context, at least you’re not hurting or offending anyone, in fact, you’re trying to affirm dreams, passions, and aspirations, which is fine by me). And these things are not always bad. Finding affirmation in the Biblical text is a beautiful thing for those of us who have chosen to build our lives around its teachings. But we often forget about the big picture, the overall Biblical story of redemption and restoration, and we make the Bible say things that it really doesn’t mean. In the process, we allow interpretations to destroy our will to think critically and ask questions. When taking the Bible literally becomes more important to us than having sound philosophy, I become worried. When having blind faith becomes more important than seeking Truth, I struggle to buy in. And when upholding correctness becomes more important than loving one another, I think we miss the most important truth of all, that God loves his creation and wants us to be living portraits of that love.
I’m frustrated because I’m tired of seeing people reading my favorite book and using it to hurt people. I’m frustrated because I believe in the beauty of the Gospel, but I am often too afraid to share it because of the offensive themes that have become associated with it. I’m frustrated that we can justify praying to find our missing car keys before thinking to pray for people around the world who fall victim to the consumerism of the Western world. I’m frustrated because I love people, and I think that a religion based on love should be known for its love, not for its political stances. I’m frustrated when the goal of Christianity appears to be in numbers of conversions rather than positive global change. I’m frustrated when I read the same thing as someone else, and we find it saying two very different things. I am convinced that no book is more frustrating to read–and discuss–than The Bible. And I’ve chosen to dedicate my life to studying it. That, my friends (and Mom), is frustrating.
But more than it is frustrating, the Bible is inspiring and intriguing. It inspires us to have faith, to persevere, to live life to its fullest, to love one another, and to strengthen one another. I believe that at its core, the Bible shows us what it means to love and be loved, to be in relationship, to be human.
In this blog, I’m going to outline some of the key issues which sometimes have me frustrated, and I’m going to attempt to do it without making you depressed. Instead, I want to inspire you to think critically and to take action against the evils in the world, to care about loving one another and treating each other as if we truly believe that all people are created in God’s image. And maybe, as we discuss and contemplate the things that frustrate us, eventually we can learn to become less frustrated by the Bible and more inspired by it.