Bono over the Edge

http://noapologizing.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/u2s-bono-interview-about-christ/

Today, on Facebook Nathanael and I started talking about this article. Near the end he wonders what Dr. Clam would think. So I decided to copy our conversation over and hopefully continue it here. It has been copied in total and unedited. This post has been edited to add the new Category of Synod which I’ll be using for these debates. Join in if you like.

Nathanael

Winston Inabox, perhaps why you wept at their last live show in Japan was because this is Bono, the Edge and Larry Mullen Jr’s context when they dream about a concert?

winstoninabox

It’s certainly interesting to read how Christians justify the unreconcilable parts of their book. For Bono the Gospels paint a picture of demanding love, but the Old Testament is viewed as an action movie. The journey from a stern father to loving friend is also… quaint. The god of the OT killed thousands, the god of the NT provides warmth, comfort and a demanding love. The only way it can be all fit together is to paper over the divisions with metaphor.

I guess that’s one of the reasons I don’t see it at all comparable to science, and don’t get any comfort from it. In science one can’t just ignore the data that doesn’t fit, or make up a story to explain it away. And that’s what Bono does here, he makes his own version of the bible that fits with what he needs to make him comfortable. Assuming the OT to be true, then the Holy Spirit is killing real children in the 10th plague so that others may be freed. That’s pretty hard to reconcile even with a pretty story. Unless it is just a story…

Nathanael

There’s actually a lot more than metaphor to fill in the divisions, but that’s a whole nother line of discussion.
Suffice it say that we all make our Gods (idols) in our own image but they actually make us like them.

winstoninabox

Whatever is used doesn’t alter my above assessment.
If the stories are true, they’re atrocities.
If they’re not true, they’re just stories.
You can’t have it both ways. Well, you can, and obviously do. But if they’re just stories giving instructions on how to live, then there’s no need for the deity behind them. They’re like Aesop’s fables.
Remember the gay marriage debate?
One point that is brought up is Adam and Eve. But that is just a story, of course. But now, this just a story is used to create public policy. There’s no evidence or analysis done of the actual situation, just recourse to a thousands of years old story. People are strange.

Nathanael

Atrocities from our perspective and your simple interpretation of the passages. Why you won’t concede that these texts can’t be allowed to have the same mystery and complexity as quantum mechanics is puzzling.
If it is a story, does it reflect something that is inherently true.
I need to stop as if you read one my earlier posts today we had some pretty sad news of another friend dying with no warning and that’s the latest in a series in short order.
Need to go where there’s energy and rehashing epistemological points wastes energy.
Would be interested in Dr.Clam’s take though

winstoninabox

Of course they can have mystery and complexity. There’s your point conceded. As a story it may reflect something something true. You can call that conceded too if you want to. Instruction is one level the Exodus story works on.

But you can’t deny it also work on the simply level of telling a literal story. It has a narrative; things happen. We can look at those things that happen and make a judgement about them. For example, are the action taken by characters to make things happen right or wrong. One of the things that happens in that story is the Holy Spirit kills a whole lot of children in order to force a man to release some people.Why won’t you concede that we can make a judgement about that action?

12 thoughts on “Bono over the Edge

  1. Marco

    I don’t really have anything to add to this conversation. I did want to make a point about how the latest comments were appearing in the sidebar back in January, and they are not anymore. It was a lot easier to see when a new thread was happening in an older post.

    Reply
    1. winstoninabox Post author

      Thanks for mentioning the comments Marco. I’ll try to work out why. Sadly my Word Press Fu is very weak. I don’t even have any pictures on my blog! For some reason I have a lot of trouble working out how to drive these things. It doesn’t help that sometimes I’m on the computer and other times I’m on the iPad, and the interfaces are completely different. And I’m just not that bright, too.

      Reply
      1. Nathanael

        There’s a few websites that offer lots of how to’s with a whole bunch of free lessons.
        Try WordPress Academy as a starting point.

        Reply
        1. winstoninabox Post author

          Thanks. If I get more interested in sprucing the place up I’ll have a look at something. Actually, I’m quite taken with the sparse functionality of it. No pretty pictures to brighten up this place!

          Reply
      1. winstoninabox Post author

        Sorry Chris, it’s nothing personal! I’d thought that people who’d been approved once were automatically approved from then on. If you’re not Following the blog then that may not be the case.

        Reply
  2. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

    Hear, hear @Marco!

    I guess to an extent we all make our own version of the Bible that fits with what makes us comfortable. I have never belonged to an organisation that insisted I treat the plagues of Egypt as historical events and so never have. The universe we observe is certainly full of atrocities that point to a harsh Old Testament-style creator rather than a loving father, so this is the more scientifically credible hypothesis of God in the absence of further evidence. In such a case it is obvious that we cannot take moral instruction from the deeds of God- what is one ‘death of the firstborn’ compared to continents suffering from malaria for millennia? We can only be instructed by what God *says*. Our morality will always remain on the level ‘good is whatever God tells us to do’ and will be arbitrary in a way that will often turn out very badly for Ammonites, Spanish Jews, Iraqi Christians, etc.

    The Old Testament makes sense to me as the story of a people’s halting efforts to reach out to a dimly apprehended God, and all the barbarities approved of in it (Jephthah’s vow, etc.) have to be put in a cultural context of neighbours who were even worse. A religion that can blithely believe that Psalm 137:9 is the ‘Word of God’, and not the anguished cry of some refugee suffering from post-traumatic stress, seems much worse to me than no religion at all.

    So as not to just give a problem without a possible answer: http://evildrclam.blogspot.com.au/2005/01/metagame-theodicy.html

    And here is a cri de coeur from many year ago concerning the Old Testament God: http://evildrclam.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/genesis-22.html

    Reply
    1. winstoninabox Post author

      You make a great point about suffering and the actions (or inactions) of God.

      About the plagues of Egypt, I don’t believe that it matters whether they actually happened as real events, but more interested in the way that Christians interpret them into their version of their religion. Modern Christians, especially the New Covenant ones, tend to sideline the OT somehow – only what Jesus says is relevant, it is just stories (except when not), etc. It’s fascinating how they try to make the very disparate parts into a coherent narrative.

      Reply
      1. Marco

        Thanks for returning the comments bar. Whatever you did, it fixed it. I also got the same impression of the OT being sidelined. “Historically” I believe it to be more significant than the NT, primarily because it is older. The Uniting church insists on both an OT reading and a NT reading in church services. Each part of both testaments does get pulled apart from time to time and analysed, though some parts much more rarely than others. The point is that “reference book” is more appropriate than “narrative” when looking at disparate parts.

        Reply
      2. Nathanael

        “Modern Christians, especially the New Covenant ones, tend to sideline the OT somehow – only what Jesus says is relevant, it is just stories (except when not), etc. It’s fascinating how they try to make the very disparate parts into a coherent narrative.”

        That’s a sweeping generalisation that’s wildly inaccurate.

        Every evangelical bible college that I’ve ever connected with takes the whole bible seriously and studies it in depth and doesn’t duck the issues but approaches them with intellectual rigour.

        That’s because they believe that Jesus was who he claimed to be – God in the Flesh – and that the Good News of the Kingdom is true and worth living and dying for.

        They believe that the whole of the bible centres around in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – everything before builds / points to that event, and everything after flows from that.

        For an understanding of how what appears disparate on the surface, there’s multiple scholars and authors who can provide an entry point., e.g.:

        Graham Goldsworthy’s Gospel Series.
        Frank Viola’s more recent Jesus: A Theophany.

        Offer two different but complementary perspectives.

        Reply
        1. winstoninabox Post author

          winston
          Modern Christians, especially the New Covenant ones, tend to sideline the OT somehow – only what Jesus says is relevant, it is just stories (except when not), etc. It’s fascinating how they try to make the very disparate parts into a coherent narrative.”

          Nathanael
          That’s a sweeping generalisation that’s wildly inaccurate.

          The problem can’t be that it’s a sweeping generalization, because just last week Japanese culture was troubled with an underlying racism, and that was a sweeping generalization backed up by evidence heard from a friend. So it must be that it’s wildly inaccurate.

          My own experience debating with you confirms this. When the OT and the NT have conflicting narratives you choose the NT over the OT every time. In your mind the NT is historical truth backed up by evidence both physical and anecdotal. But the OT can sometimes be a story or metaphor (say Adam & Eve).

          Every evangelical bible college that I’ve ever connected with takes the whole bible seriously and studies it in depth and doesn’t duck the issues but approaches them with intellectual rigour.

          Let’s hope so. But I was talking about modern Christians and not Christian institutions. Modern Christians give more credence to the NT.

          For an understanding of how what appears disparate on the surface, there’s multiple scholars and authors who can provide an entry point., e.g.:

          Graham Goldsworthy’s Gospel Series.
          Frank Viola’s more recent Jesus: A Theophany.

          Offer two different but complementary perspectives.

          We can’t even get through “God’s Undertaker” (BTW the God of the Gaps post still needs a rebuttal) so I’ll hold off reading them for now.

          Reply
  3. Marco

    I would like to add something to this conversation. After years of regular attendance at church services, my sense impression was, and still is, that the OT is sidelined in most discussions. I don’t really see that as a negative point as the reality is, is that if the NT *didn’t* override substantial parts of the OT then it wouldn’t be Christianity, it would be judaism. If some other text overrides the OT then it would be something else again. There is also the point that most casual Christians cannot imagine the distant past and cannot reconcile the ancient norms against modern ones.

    Reply

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