The Bible as Subversive Text

I’m very tired after our flight back last night. (People always say the jet lag is not so bad flying in this direction, but you can’t tell by me – exhausted and up at 3:55am local MSP time.)

I had planned to write a bit this morning about Richard Rohr’s latest book, which I finished reading before my flight back. That will have to wait a day or so. For today, let me simply share some thoughts about the bible from a daily meditation by Rohr adapted from his book A Lever and a Place to Stand:The Contemplative Stance, the Active Prayer.

Rohr writes:

One of the few subversive texts in history, believe it or not, is the Bible. The Bible is a most extraordinary text because again and again it legitimates not the people on the top, but invariably the people on the bottom or those who move toward those on the bottom—from Abraham to Moses to Jeremiah to Job to John the Baptist to Jesus. It has taken an amazing degree of denial and selective attention to miss this quite obvious alternative pattern.

After a while you might get tired of the rejected son, the younger son, the barren woman, the sinner, the outsider always being the chosen one of God! It is the Biblical pattern—which we prefer not to see. It takes away our power to exclude “the least of the brothers and sisters” because that is precisely where Jesus says he is to be found (Matthew 25:40)! If indeed women, blacks, other religions, gays, and other “outsiders” are “least” in our definition, it seems that gives them in fact a privileged and revelatory position! They are not to be excluded, but honored. Jesus takes away from us any possibility of creating any class system or any punitive notion from religion. Unfortunately, thus far, it has not worked very well.

Something to think about people play constant games of “gotcha” with the Bible, selecting individual quotes to support whatever position they happen to hold.