Saturday, November 26, 2005

'and the rain came down and the floods went up...'

(...but the house on the rock stood firm! Obviously learned something at Wooldale Juniors after all.)

Well I hadn't planned on blogging anything tonight, just popped over to print off my polenta cake recipe for Judith and then the heavens opened - yes I know it's only a few yards door to door but it's the sort of rain that soaks you in seconds and if the rest of the day is anything to go by it'll stop again soon. Hopefully we won't have any floods, especially as we're heading up the coast tomorrow morning to Kapiti Meeting so Fran, Jonathan and I can do our WGYF performance again (one showing only this time, but a bring and share meal thrown in!). Unfortunately this means Fran collecting Ann and I at 8.45am - who on earth decided that 10am was a good time to hold Meeting for Worship? Having said that Jonathan and I have just been discussing the idea of a pre-Meeting discussion group (altho' Meeting here doesn't start until 10.30am and as he pointed out it takes me seconds to get there)

After we'd done the last round of WGYF feedback (both matiné and evening performances!) I hit on the idea of having a bible study/discussion group which would be for those who are new to it, haven't read it for years and/or those who struggle with it rather than for old hands who know and love it well.

So much of what the main speakers had to say at WGYF was bible orientated, we had a bible quiz one night which left me simply in awe of the extent of the knowledge of so many - Leslie reeling off, in order, the books of the old Testament without faltering or appearing to draw breath was impressive to say the least. So where did that leave those of us who probably hadn't really read the book since we stopped having Religious Education lessons at school, and didn't have any sense of affinity to it? Well oddly enough for me, and several others, it left us curious, wondering what we were missing out on, prepared to give it another go - on condition that no-one was going set us any homework or expect us to necessarily go along with what it said.

Two of the things Jonathan mentioned in his bit about the speakers (well there was no point Fran or I doing that bit - we missed half of them!) was Oliver Kisaka saying how if you haven't read the bible you are uneducated and Deborah Saunders refering to Elijah and Elisha (oops - had to do a quick Google search to check how to spell Elisha... needless to say I haven't read that bit yet!) and saying how she was like Elijah to us as Elisha (preparing the next generation of prophets/speakers basically). Now I heard Oliver say that bit about being uneducated and admittedly bristled a bit at first but then as he elaborated I understood what he meant, he wasn't saying if you don't know your bible inside out or don't believe it you are uneducated, but if you haven't even tried reading it all how can you speak against something you don't know? Don't reject something out of hand when you maybe only know a small part of it - I guess it's like me not wanting to read any more Thomas Hardy having done Return of the Native for A level English (how can a book take 5 chapters for someone to watch a horse & cart to get from one end of road to another with nothing else happening in the plot?) yet everyone I know who studied Tess of the D'Urbervilles thinks he's fantastic, if I gave my opinion of Shakespeare based purely on Anthony & Cleopatra (another A level torture zone) you'd get a very different story than if I waxed lyrical about The Tempest, Midsummer's Nights Dream, Romeo & Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing or Twelth Night etc etc etc (all I can assume is that Ant & Cleo must've been written on a very bad hair day...). I tried at various stages through the WGYF planning to read more of the bible, especially each time I heard Sheila speak so enspiringly about passages that spoke to her condition and seemed pertinent at the time but I never got very far (my excuse was that I was waiting for the chapter & verse references from Sheila...). But post WGYF I have tried, I really have (as I think I have said in an earlier posting) to make a concerted effort. I tried just dipping in and out but got frustrated with a lot of the language in the Old Testament (why oh why does everything seem to be riddled with double negatives?) and plumped for working through the Gospel of Matthew instead as simon had referred to it as the 'Quaker Gospel' and thus the one I reckoned I'd have least difficulty with! I found when reading it I'd come across bits and want to ask someone about it, or even just say - hey I like this bit! or, in some cases - what the dickens is that about? or if that means what I think it means that I don't hold much truck with that. But as it tends to be bedtime reading I can't imagine anyone being too chuffed with a phonecall, and also once tucked up in bed all cosy I'm not about to pad across in my jammies and start typing in a cold office! Hence the idea of the discussion group... I did think about Deborah's comment about learning from your elders and the whole Elijah/Elisha thing but figured that in this case we were probably best trying to muddle through on our own - after all those of us who got put off it by people knew it inside out and who tried in varying degrees to ram it down our throats (either from the pulpit or the front of the classroom) are probably happier in a group where we're all coming from a slightly sceptical and/or 'uneducated' position. A case of 'what canst thou say' about it.

We may all end up still sceptics at the end of it, but at least we'll be better educated ones!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Holly B. said...

Anna,
I've been an only-very-occasionally Bible reader as well. At WGYF I read more than I anticipated, and got a lot from it. Not as much post-WGYF, partially because I left my bible behind in Kenya. I hope SOMEONE is reading it there...

My bible had in it references to favorite passages from friends at a spiritual community earlier in my life.

I've been thinking since WGYF that it would be great to collect participants' relevant passages from the Gathering, so we could all have a reference list of places to go when we want to connect with the spirit that was alive among us then.

The more encouragement I have on that, the better !!

I find that it's hard to know where to start when I want to make the bible a bigger part of my spiritual practice. Anything to help those like me who are biblically skeptical/ignorant/naive etc, the better, I think...

Rachel Stacy said...

Anna!

I miss you so much! just one comment, the Quaker Gospel is refered to as John not Matthuew though the Jesus Christians refere to Matthuew a bunch. hope to catch up with you sometime.
-rachel

Anna Dunford said...

wow! I love it when people comment, cos then I know who's reading this, yay 3 WGYFers! =)

Go for it Holly! Pester Sheila (harder than I did!) she has some great references she could share, Jonathan noted several references the speakers gave which would save you going through the audio files (although listening again would hardly be a hardship!) - I'll see if I can get him to pass them on, or get them off him and do so myself. Put something out on the WGYF email list, you are bound to get a response.

We're definitely going ahead with the study group - and we've had quite a few people say they've felt that is what they need for ages, looks like we've hit on a big need there.

Sheila and I discussed at one point a 'beginners guide' as part of the preperation for WGYF (which is why she never got around to sending me the references to the chapters she'd spoken to in our epilogues - she was trying to think bigger and ran out of time/energy). There is definitely a niche market out there of the biblically skeptical/ignorant/naive who are open to learning but who aren't necessarily looking for convincement/conversion.

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