Sometimes I wonder…. have we created God in our own image instead of the other way around. There are so many interpretations of God. Every group seems to have its own god. As a teen I visited a church with a friend and was upset by the wrathful image of God in that place. God was scary. Sin was paramount and love was not mentioned. I felt as if God was waiting for me to transgress so that I could be punished. This was certainly Dante’s kind of God with his various parts of hell.
Was this what they found in the same Bible that I was reading? I guess I spent more time in the New Testament. The various religious texts are there for all of us to read no matter our faith. However, I have discovered that interpretation is the key. Each of us can come up with an entirely different meaning for the same reading.
I have read parts of the Book of Mormon and the Koran and came to the same conclusion. The person reading will see it through their eyes or the eyes of a teacher. Each person also interprets things based on their life experiences. No two of us are alike. It certainly explains how different sects can arise reading the same material.
I have noticed that Buddha and Jesus seldom made things easy for us. Nor did the readings of Hinduism. True mystics seldom speak clear messages but want us to use our minds and our hearts to discern meaning. Jews use exploration of texts placed against thoughts through the ages to interpret scripture. This is sometimes called or related to Midrash. They are unafraid to question and debate over meaning. (see below for definition)
Do you take the word of scholars/teachers about meaning or do you absorb ideas and be willing to question? Questioning is not doubt. It is expanding your belief.
This makes it all the more difficult to know who or what to follow and is not for everyone. Questioning can be scary and rock our belief system. It can make you doubt your belief but can move you to a deeper faith. It is not for the faint of heart but it can be rewarding. When I ask questions I grow and end up with a stronger connection to my faith.
I suspect that I mostly see readings through the eyes of love. Living with compassion and love toward others is my benchmark. That doesn’t mean that I can do it all the time but that is my goal.
(Midrash is an interpretive act, seeking the answers to religious questions (both practical and theological) by plumbing the meaning of the words of the Torah. (In the Bible, the root d-r-sh is used to mean inquiring into any matter, including occasionally to seek out God’s word.) Midrash responds to contemporary problems and crafts new stories, making connections between new Jewish realities and the unchanging biblical text.)