08/21/2020

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!
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