Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"The wind bloweth where it listeth..."

It took a bit of faith ...
... and a big box kite for Lawrence Hargrave and James Swain
to demonstrate how 'man-lift' was achieved.
(From Wikipedia)

Recently, I was asked to write about my "religious views" -- and this within a context where I couldn't refuse and even had to elaborate a bit -- so I thought that I'd post the piece here ... if for no other reason than that I'm short on time this morning.

"The wind bloweth where it listeth,
and thou hearest the sound thereof,
but canst not tell whence it cometh,
and whither it goeth:
so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
John 3:8 (KJV)

Trying to describe one's religious views can be like catching the wind in a box. Too successfully boxed, the wind no longer blows and becomes mere air, without power to move. But if I send the box up as a kite, it catches and is caught in the wind, like a kite flying so high that it nearly disappears into the apophatic heavens.

This is the image for my faith. An essential, tensed link between heaven and earth, tugging to draw me higher even as I keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.

But if I myself am to be boxed in, then one box is Baptist. I was raised in the Arkansas Ozarks as a Southern Baptist, I attended Baylor University, a Southern Baptist school, and I currently belong to Seoul International Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist church.

I have attended the churches of various denominations, however, such as Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian ones, among others. Thus, a larger box is Protestant.

A larger box still is Western Orthodoxy, but with openness to other Christian traditions. I therefore find inspiration in great thinkers like Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas as well as in the early Church Fathers and even Copts like Shenouda or Syrians like Ephrem.

A yet larger box is the Judeo-Christian tradition, which encompasses not only the Hebrew scriptures and rabbinical writings but even Jewish commentaries written today on the Bible. I therefore find that I receive a great deal by reading, for example, the commentary on Leviticus by Jacob Milgrom.

All of these boxes rise or fall like kites on the wind, which "bloweth where it listeth."

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At 8:30 PM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

It sounds as if we have very similar beliefs, indeed!

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Mine are always in somewhat of a flux ... endlessly listing with the wind.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffery, I'm very curious about Southern Baptists. I understand that Jimmy Carter was a Southern Baptist, which makes it sound like a pretty big tent. Are there many Southern Baptists who don't believe in the bodily resurrection, the virgin birth, Revelation (the book) as prediction, the importance of being celibate unless married, the idea that abortion should never be performed (with a possible exception for the life of the mother) etc.?

Up in Canada, Southern Baptists have a reputation for extreme conservatism (usually including political conservatism), and theological fundamentalism, but you don't strike me as a fundamentalist (however one defines that word) at all or an extreme conservative at all.

Anyway, I know you want to be listing with the wind, freely, but I'm hoping you can enlighten me on the general culture of most Southern Baptists.

At 4:41 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Nathan, the Baptists -- including the Southern variety -- were traditionally strongly in favor of the separation of church and state and strongly emphasized the local church and the priesthood of all believers. They have no official creed.

However, they tend to be culturally and theologically conservative, and they -- though it's a bit of an uncomfortable fit, at times -- tend to wrap themselves in the American flag.

In the past, Southern Baptists were more likely to have been Democrats than Republicans, but I suspect that this has not been the case for at least a generation. Partly, this shift follows from the fact that Southern Baptists have gotten wealthier, but also, it comes as reaction to the leftward drift of the Democratic party.

I don't know the statistics, but the majority would certainly "believe in the bodily resurrection, the virgin birth, Revelation (the book) as prediction" and probably also in "the importance of being celibate unless married, the idea that abortion should never be performed (with a possible exception for the life of the mother) etc."

Wikipedia has a lot on "Southern Baptists" and notes the intra-Baptist 'culture war' between moderates and conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention during the late 70s through the late 80s. I recall that the moderates had influence at one point, and the Sunday School lessons got into issues of situational ethics that probably livened up many a previously boring Sunday School class (as they did mine).

The fact that my family and I now attend a Southern Baptist church is more or less accidental. We were looking around and happened to like SIBC.

I'm probably not the best person to ask about the Southern Baptists because I haven't paid a great deal of attention to what their convention states.

Jeffery Hodges

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