The Bible–What a Pagan Can Do With It


So I had to buy a bible.

My mom laughed hysterically when I told her I had to buy the King James version of the Bible for my English class.  At first she paused, staring at me blankly/in shock…and then she broke into hysterical laughter.  It was good to see.  I love making people laugh.

But it’s true, I bought a bible.  Me, who have never actually owned a bible in my life, even when I was a Christian.  Unless the children’s bible with the pretty pictures counts.  If it does, then…I mean after the children’s stage passed have I never owned a bible.

Just the word “bible” looks funny to me.  It looks like I should be saying “bib,” as in a baby’s bib, with “-le” tacked on the end.  And that makes me giggle.

I digress.  My mom, after her laughter had subsided, did however make a good point.  The bible really does have some good stories in it.  She especially noted the Psalms (which I can’t even remember from my Sunday school days).  But the point is valid.  How can I call myself a student of mythology and not hold the bible in some respect?  Sure, it has been used a tool for propoganda and religious hatred for hundreds and thousands of years, but that wasn’t the original point of it as far as I’m aware.  Take religion out of it and view it from a mythology context, and it shouldn’t be that bad.

But as a pagan, how am I going to get through reading the bible?  When I was younger I considered the bible to be the bane of my existence and the source of many religious troubles.  Now I know it’s not the bane of my existence, and it’s only the source of religious troubles because we stupid humans make it the Word of God (written down and translated by man).  Still…how can I, as a pagan, read the bible and not take some kind of offense at some of the things I find there?

Yet it would be a pointless offense.  There’s nothing I can do to change what’s written there, and book burning goes against my very nature and love of all books no matter the content.  As a student of mythology, there are stories I read on occasion that I find horrifying, yet they all serve their purpose to the culture that created them.

What, then, is the purpose of a pagan reading the Christian bible?  Other than the class requirement, I mean.  And it’s possible I’m making too much of this situation I find myself in.  Normally when I read something, I pour myself into the story and enjoy.  Never have I had to separate myself from something I was reading, not even science texts, which I’m not very good with.

Either way, it will join my vast collection of books in my apartment, and adorn my shelves, giving a great deal of amusement to my friends who know me–and providing cover for the people who don’t know my religious affiliation.

I mean, who would guess that a pagan has a bible on their bookshelf?  I could believe it of some of my pagan friends who have done some research and compared various religions, but of others, I could never believe that they owned a bible, much less displayed it publicly on the bookshelf in their living room.

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3 responses to “The Bible–What a Pagan Can Do With It

  1. Hey, been meaning to check this out for a while. I’m impressed by how consistently you post substantial updates. Woohoo!

    I had to buy Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich, plus some other incredibly Christian-heavy texts for my Medieval Women Writers class. I was okay with it, because the syllabus was balanced by awesome secular texts and the Christian stories/philosophies weren’t bad. What I didn’t like were the class discussions in which it started to sound like a Bible study – “I like what she says about the nature of God, because I was always taught that.” A comment like that standing on its own has no academic relevance. And even if it were expanded into a philosphical comment, it wasn’t a philosophy class – it was literature, medieval history, and gender studies. I don’t feel the need to silence such comments, but the conversation could have been so much more interesting in a non-religious context… have the religious conversation over coffee after class with someone who cares and isn’t paying a ridiculous amount of money to hear a Christian-centric discussion.

    [/rant]

    That said, I kinda really like the Bible. :3

    Are you taking Flieger’s class on myth, or something else?

    • Lol, I’m taking two of Flieger’s classes, “Medieval Myth and Modern Narrative” and the other is “Studies in Mythmaking.” They’re sooo interesting!

  2. The lack of knowledge is often the beginning of illogical hate and fear. A lot of the Christian pilgrims to America didn’t understand the complexity and depth of the native american beliefs, and so not only labeled their beliefs satanic, but believed that they worshipped Satan.

    Just because we are pagan and we claim to be open doesn’t mean we are, or that we’re immune to the same mistakes. My father told me a story about when my Grandfather, who was a very nonreligious man (almost anti-religious actually, the only time he ever stepped into a church was my fathers wedding) read the entire bible, from cover to cover. My dad, who was a teenager at the time, asked my grandfather why he did that since he wasn’t religious, and my grandfather replied, “Because it’s an important book to a lot of people and even if I don’t believe it, it seemed important enough to understand it.”

    A lot of religious wars are based on lack of knowledge and understanding. I strongly believe that if people did read “opposing” religious material and understood it (not believed, but comprehended it) then there might well be a lot less bigotry in the world. This is one of the reasons why I still don’t mind going to church, even though I am a very devout pagan. It is an educational, not a religious experience.

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