Monday, April 10

Different conventions

Last night I went to see Syriana. It was interesting, and thought-provoking. Not at all what I expected. I was expecting thinly veiled anti-war propaganda. Instead, it leads to questions about our dependence on oil, and our role in regards to the governments of the Middle East.

One of the things that makes the movie interesting is that it is not a Hollywood movie. It doesn't follow the typical conventions of Hollywood. In most Hollywood movies, you know what to expect. You know that all of the pieces will eventually fit together. The scenes all fit together to tell one big story. Even if you don't understand exactly how something fits together now, it will eventually all become clear.

After the movie was over, my friend and I discussed it. We understood the criticism of the movie that you don't always understand what's going on. We still know how all of the pieces fit together. It was as though there were several stories that were just barely related to each other. But these disconnects from what is expected is part of what makes the movie interesting. That format virtually invites thought and discussion, simply because it does not fit into the ordinary, easy-to-understand conventions of Hollywood.

In this way, Syriana made me think about the Bible. Just like we have been trained to look for and expect certain conventions in movies, our culture and several centuries of modern thought have trained us to use certain conventions when reading and trying to understand the Bible. Often, when Christians read God's Word, they try to make it fit those conventions. All of the aspects of the Bible should fit into one easily understood story. There is one Meaning for every piece of scripture. One point that each verse or story is trying to convey.

Unfortunately, that's not how the Bible always works. This was particularly the case with the Old Testament, which doesn't even have the Greek influence which has served as the basis for at least some modern western thinking. I think this is why so many people have a hard time reading and feeling like they understand the Bible. They are trying to find the One Meaning that modern western thought says has to be there. But the Bible doesn't fit that convention.

Syriana is interesting in part because it makes you think, it makes you ponder, it makes you want to discuss. Maybe that's how we should approach the Bible. Instead of looking at it and trying to figure out what a story Means, maybe we should approach it in a way that leads us to think about what we've read, ponder what we can learn about God. Maybe we should discuss it. Instead of trying to figure out what God said, we can use it so that God can speak now. Maybe in this way, the Bible will truly become "living and active." The Bible should just be a past tense work. It's meant to be a way for God to speak to us today.

1 comment:

TheBGRT said...

I agree with you on this one Tim. In my Old Test. class I am finding that things are not nearly as cut and clean as we should think. Though, with some looking we can see the grander plan in the Scripture. Or would this be the conventions that we have been taught coming out?
I think part of the reason that we are confused when we read Scripture, especially the Old Test, because we see things that don't apply to us, and we wonder what they are doing there, and what benefit thre is for us there. I think the Old Test serves its purpose two fold; firstly as a historical narative of the Jewish peoples. Secondly as an explanation, and a source of hope and encouragement for a people that were under persecution and wondering what had happened. Or at least that is what I have learned thus far in class. Your not the only really smart one now Tim, mwahahahahaha!!