Hermeneutics is art of interpretation. It is saying what things mean. In theological seminaries, there are classes on Hermeneutics, on how to stand between the scriptures and a congregation, translating/interpreting the word of that time in ways that have meaning for this time-- taking what was meaningful 2,000 years ago and expressing it in ways that are meaningful today-- articulating the essence of the truth so that it is carried forward through the ages from then to now. The word, "hermeneutics" is taken from the Greek word Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods. The Roman name for the same god is Mercury. Mercury is quicksilver. It's hard to nail down or pick up. It is here one minute and there the next. It is all over the place, refusing to be hemmed in, cornered, codified encased in doctrines and dogmas, creeds and catechisms. As soon as we say what it is, it isn't. And we are always using more words to clarify the confusion that was created by the last thing we said. Until we get to the place where the obvious thing to do-- the thing that is being called for by the situation at hand-- is to quit talking. To stop trying to explain things with more words that only make matters worse, and start over with fewer words that commune with the essence of truth contained in the original texts. We need to overhaul "the hermeneutical task," and begin anew. We begin by putting everything theological on an imaginary table, and sweeping it all off the table. Then we put back on the table only the things that stand the test of time and experience, which reflect our understanding of truth that is valid for all time and all places-- truth that doesn't overly rely on belief, but is grounded in the experience of all people through the ages. We will start with the four classic symbols of Christianity and re-interpret them in ways that have meaning for all time. The baptismal. The bread. The cup. The cross. All four symbols are a metaphor for the same thing: The cost of new birth. They are all saying the same thing: "Your new life will eat your old life alive!" Jesus' death on the cross does not save anyone from having to die. His death is not about redemption and forgiveness. Sin is nothing more than "missing the mark," the way an archer might miss the bullseye. Nothing to get worked up about. Waking up, on the other hand, puts our life on the line. Jesus' death on the cross is a tangible, visible, demonstration of what being with him requires. His death is sacramental in the old definition of the word "sacrament"-- "An outward, visible, sign of an inward, spiritual, grace." Death is the way to resurrection and life. And that is as true for Jesus' companions as it is for Jesus. With Jesus, death is actual and tangible. And it can be that for his companions, and often was, especially in the early days (And that, also often, was at the hand of the Church of the Holy Roman Empire, burning heretics at the stake, as much as it was at the hand of Roman Emperors). But it will be for most of us, metaphorical and intangible, dying to our old way of thinking and acting, and being raised from the dead in the sense of being raised to a new life of new ways of thinking and acting-- which will have a dying-like impact on the life we are living "in the Lord." That is how the cross fits into The Church of What's Happening Now. Baptism is to be seen in light of the Biblical witness that "Jesus came by the water and the blood"-- understanding "the water and the blood" to represent the amniotic fluid of birth. As with Jesus, so with all of his companions. Their new birth is mingled with the pain and ordeal of actual birth. Both her and with the cross, there is a price to pay. New birth and new life are death to the old ways of living. The Bread and the Cup continue this theme: The Bread of Life is the bread of affliction. The Cup of Salvation is the cup of suffering. These are basic statements of truth realized in the life of everyone who has ever lived. Affliction and Suffering are the path to realization and enlightenment, to abundant life, spilling over, pouring out. Members of AA understand too well that sobriety lies at the foot of the solid rock wall of reality. We are born anew into new life out of sorrow and suffering-- which do not automatically end, but are transformed by the shift in perspective that characterizes all of those for whom "The old has passed away, and, behold, the new has come!" In re-imagining, reinterpreting, redefining these four central metaphors, the Christian Church takes its place with all religions in every age that have understood the path to enlightenment, awakening and realization to be the way of reflecting on the way things are to the point of new realizations, that enable the shift in perspective that allows us to embrace and engage the way things are in each situation as it arises in light of what our Original Nature has to offer the present moment as we see what is happening, grasp what is being called for and offer what is needed out of the gifts/daemon/spirit/virtues/character/vitality that come with us from the womb. This is living in ways that incarnate ourselves, bring us forth and make us known, in oneness with the Source of life and being, and with all of life and all beings Throughout the time left for living. If you can improve on that, by all means, do so!