Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mel on scripture

Last summer I bought a daily Bible,,,each day has a reading from both the Old and New Testaments, and the idea is that you will read through the entire Bible in a year. You know, if you get up early enough to read it every morning, and if no small people wake up and wander in demanding food during your prayer time, etc.

Anyway, I have to say that I really don't like the Old Testament readings much. I mean, there's your standard stories of Moses and the Hebrews and all, but some of the Old Testament is a bit...tedious. Sorry, God. But my biggest issue is that I really don't *get* much of the Old Testament. I have a really hard time reconciling God in the Old Testament and God in the New Testament. Yeah, I know, they are the same God. That's my point. The laws given to the Hebrews, aside from being rather...bizarre...seem so harsh and exclusive, it seems you can hardly blame the Jewish people for being what they were at the time of Jesus' arrival on the scene. Sorry, again God, I know, everyone's a critic. I'm sure it's my own ignorance shining through, I'm sure they are really very *good* laws with *good* reason behind them, but...ok, like this one---

"None of your descendants who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or injured hand, or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles;" Leviticus 21:17-20

A couple of thoughts here...

---Often when I read scripture I am pleasantly surprised to find passages I didn't even know I knew. This is a blessing of being Catholic. Most of the mass, including the music (if it's done right) is scriptural, and it's neat to find a verse that I realize I've known ever since I learned a certain hymn in 3rd grade. But, to my memory, I've never heard this particular passage in mass. I'm quite sure my children would have burst into hysterical laughter if someone had said "crushed testicles" in mass, so I would've remembered.

---Were crushed testicles a big problem back then? I mean, I guess it wasn't an unheard of problem or they wouldn't have mentioned it, right? I have never, even as a nurse, ever seen someone with this particular injury, unless you can count all those skateboarding guys on America's Funniest Home Videos. How on Earth were all of these Hebrews injuring themselves like this? Thank heavens for OSHA, huh?

---But, back on topic, this kind of passage, and there's many, many of them...like the whole book of Leviticus...shows such a big contrast between this God we meet in the Old Testament, who tells the Jewish people to exclude physically imperfect people, and Jesus in the New Testament healing the sick and touching the lepers. And why did God want such things from the Hebrew people? What was the purpose in these Old Testament laws? And what relevance do they have today? They must have some, if the church deems it worth studying. Anyone have a good resource for studying the Old Testament?

11 comments:

Kelly said...

I hear you Mel! I don't have any insight, but I also struggle with parts of the Old Testament. And I found I really can't read it aloud to my kids - some of that stuff is X-rated! LOL! Lots of murder, rape, and mayhem in the OT, that's for sure.

Other parts of the OT are awesome - like Sirach. What a cool book! We'd all be happier and healthier if we lived our lives according to the Wisdom therein.

kori said...

In the Old Testament disease, deformity, illness were all outward manifestations of the inner spiritual sickness and deformity caused by Original Sin. Man had to learn first not to approach the Holy of Holies with an outward deformity before he could understand why we do not approach the Eucharist with an inward deformity. Jesus healed the physically ill while teaching about the spiritually ill and healing them as well through Baptism and later through Confession.

As an aside, men with a physical defect are still not admitted to the priesthood. A Catholic man who may otherwise be very qualified to be a priest *cannot* be ordained if he is in a wheelchair or has no thumb etc.

Angela M. said...

I am reading the Bible and hope to be done by the end of April. The OT does have some odd stuff and the NT is a much easier read but I am finding out why they do what they do and say in the NT by reading the OT. Don't give up!

And I am still depressed by Judges 19!

erinmlee said...

YES! Get Jeff Cavins' Great Adventure bible series. It's expensive, but well worth it imo. (Okay, I didn't pay for it, my dad did, so of course it was worth it to me!) He leads you through the Old Testament in a way that totally makes sense (temporarily skipping books like Leviticus that make you want to tear your hair out, and navigating through the books that tell the story), and he explains a LOT of those passages that make you scratch your head and go "What was God *thinking*?!?! This isn't the God *I* know!" I can't say enough good about it. Go to greatadventureonline.com

Erin said...

That's interesting about priests not being able to have physical defects, Kori... I did not know that. I assume that does not also apply to all psychological issues, like depression, etc.? I say this because my brother who is in the seminary has mild Tourette's. I'd hope they would have mentioned that it was a problem before admitting him into the program!

kori said...

Erin, as far as I know it is only physical defect. And if you are ordained a priest and then have an accident (losing a limb or something) it doesn't disqualify you or make you not a priest.

J.C. said...

Actually mental problems like depression can disqualify a candidate for the priesthood. It used to be the even certain mental problems in your immediate family would be taken into consideration. That being said, nowadays, most diocese ignore the guidance of the Church anyways and use their own standards. One of the ideas behind physical, and mental, normalcy, is that the priest is supposed to be "alter Christus," another Christ, the unblemished lamb. Kori, I think some accidents can prevent priests from exercising their faculties, especially those that have to do with the hands and fingers. A priest must be able to handle the eucharist with both his hands. Of course, there are dispensations. One of my daughter's favorite saints, Saint Isaac Jogues, had some of his fingers bitten off by the Mohawks. However, he was given a dispensation to continue acting as a priest, that is, until the Mohawks finally killed him. If I remember correctly, you can't even be a priest if you are impotent. (Sorry, Mel! but you brought up crushed...umm, you know!). Interesting discussion. And Mel, this post was hilarious. I mean, like I think of it in the car, and I snort out loud.

mel said...

Thanks Kori, that does help a lot. Erin, I'll definitely keep that bible study in mind...maybe with my birthday bucks. :) Surely Tourette's wouldnt' be an issue, unless it's the kind where they shout out vulgar things. That probably wouldn't work during mass very well, lol....

Erin said...

Right, he doesn't have the yelling issue, just a little tic. As his proud big sister, I think he'd make one heck of an orthodox, solid priest! The archdiocese does screenings before admitting people t the seminary, complete w/ ink blot tests and everything!

I think w/ the large amount of mild mental disorders out there nowadays, you'd be hard-pressed to find many people who didn't have some slight "issue."

Chris Lewis said...

Speaking of crushed testicles...
http://www.rnwforum.com/forum31/4372.html

mel said...

hahaha! Oh, that's cute! I'll have to show that to my husband.