A Possible Gospel And New Testament

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Gospel, Premise 3: Salt Still Has Its Taste

In order to separate the wheat from the chaff, we need to bring discernment to the words that we encounter. And in order to discern what is truly inspired, we need to recognize the elements of originality and wisdom that are present in true spirituality.

Jesus was the son of a carpenter. He was not a scribe, Pharisee, or priest of his day. And despite the heavy incorporation of church dogma and theology into their texts, the gospel writers seem to give us glimpses of certain strands from the oral traditions which they inherited concerning Jesus, which suggest that Jesus himself both demonstrated and spoke to the originality involved in genuine spiritual inspiration.

“He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” Mat 13:54-56

“They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Mk 1:22

Then there are Jesus’ cryptic-sounding remarks about salt and fire:

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:49-50

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49

“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure heap; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’ Luke 14:34-35

To have ears to listen to these verses is to hear that Jesus speaks of finding our own tongues; and so I adapt these verses into one as follows:

Salt has salt of itself or it is good for nothing. How can you season it? Therefore have salt in yourselves that is not borrowed. This salt has saltiness like light from fire, and lights the world.


At 5:40 PM, Blogger kathy said...

After reading this post i understand then that all of us can have genuine spiritual inspiration. So it's not a closed book after all?

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

Beautiful insight in your last paragraph. Never thought about this concept methaphorically.

(As an aside, I love salt almost as much as Coke). ;)

At 11:01 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

**Therefore have salt in yourselves that is not borrowed. This salt has saltiness like light from fire, and lights the world.

I love that interpretation!


At 7:55 AM, Blogger UARIDI said...

When I get nervous I think about being good for nothing, and then I remember that He Himself will re-energize me and make me as salty as I need.

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Darius said...

KATHY: I don't think it is. At the same time, I find there's something to the conservative critique of "making it up as you go along" and "free thinking."

That is, if you're going to go the route of first-hand experience, it requires using self-reflection and self-criticism.

KESHI and STACEY, thanks. Glad that way of putting it works for people. Stacey, I hope you don't put salt in your Coke though - I think that would be a tough one to make into a good metaphor.

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Darius said...

HI UARDI, didn't mean to ignore you... We posted comments at about the same time...

So it sounds like you may think more in terms of getting your salt salted, if I've got that right? (Uh... rereading it, that sounds a little peculiar, but I know you know I'm not trying to use language that's "salty" in that sense. Well, maybe a little with Stacey. Her tutu is so becoming.)

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

Salt crystals(SodiumChloride/NaCl) are cubic in form and therefore I think that Yeshua was referring to the trinity when he was discussing the preservative powers of salt.

As for the alleged brothers and sisters of Yeshua you had better re-check that story with the perpetual virginity clause in Rome.

What about pouring salt on an open wound? Even a tiny bit of salt can really sting!

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Dale said...

Re the conservative critique, I have some sympathy with it too, as you know. But in the long run there's really no substitute for rigorous thinking and an honest heart, is there? If we really could protect the traditions we love by codifying them, I'd be all for it. But I don't think we can. There isn't any formulation so foolproof that sloppy thinking & bad faith can't ruin it.

I've been mulling over your verse, and I'm having to work my way into this conception of "salting." I think it makes a lot of sense. My own tradition of course doesn't locate the spirit in time in the same way the Christian tradition does, so the idea of being "salted" took a while for me to wrap my mind around.

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Marissa said...

Jesus sure did like his condiments. And fire. He must've been a blast to go camping with! :D

Sorry, I just had to! :D

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Darius said...

HOMOESCAPEONS: It's true that the Trinity doctrine has been well preserved, but imo salt - particularly the salty kind - was not involved.

DALE: Back on the previous post I'm still discussing the conservative outlook with Preachrboy. I've basically asked him if he sees scripture as the literal words of God, even though he's shown clearly that he doesn't subscribe to a literal interpretation of these words in contexts where the language isn't being used literally.

My outlook on spirituality and inspiration is like yours, if I understand you correctly, in not subscribing to the idea that God has historical moments of special revelation, so to speak - especially if that means that God, as an Other being, actually selects the words of texts.

So Kathy's comment above, the first, which I slightly qualified in my response to her, summarizes my view of "saltiness."

MARISSA: And in the true spirit of silliness, allow me to add:

That marshmellow which campers salt with fire is a vessel blackened on the outside, yet pure and white on the inside - and somewhat sticky. Do not cast the first marshmellow.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Dale said...

Yes. Although my difficulty wasn't really as highfalutin as that -- it was just a matter of not having the imagery. I'm sure that sophisticated Christian theologians are by no means confident that at some point in ordinary chronological time God stuck souls into flesh that didn't have them before, but you've got the pictures of it happening -- the Sistine Chapel Ceiling & all, the story of God breathing life into clay in Genesis. That makes the image of people as "salted" with inspiration make immediate sense. Our imagery in this regard tends to be of uncovering, not bestowing -- remove the veils, wash away the dirt, etc., and what you have is the primordially pure spirit, which was always there. I'm not sure what we're talking about is actually that different, but the storyline & cinematography are different :-)

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

Point well taken,
with a grain of salt....

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Darius said...

DALE: Theologians lacking confidence? Hmm... Ever read Alfred North Whitehead? He has it ALL worked out and in detail, from the smallest subatomic particle to the Mind of God.

Nothing like a mathematician turned theologian for confidence. He did strike me as extreme in that regard though.

Appropos of imagery, I've sometimes wondered why there is literally not a clue in the New Testament as to Jesus' physical appearance - if I'm not mistaken, that of the disciples too?

"Not hiding your lamp under a bushel" (meaning some kind of basket I think?) might be a gospel phrase more in keeping with the imagery you're used to.

HOMOESCAPEONS: Thanks for that dash of flavoring...

At 6:14 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

Well, maybe a little with Stacey. Her tutu is so becoming

Awww, thank you. You have just made me blush. Hurry, I need some smelling salts!

At 7:29 AM, Blogger Darius said...

STACEY: My next post won't contain such salty language. However - this is just speculation -Preachrboy may want to borrow your smelling salts for that one...

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Stacey said...

Ooh, I can hardly wait to read it!

At 4:27 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

In order to separate the wheat from the chaff, we need to bring discernment to the words that we encounter.

I was thinking this morning about President Bush's claim that God wanted him to be president. Pat Robertson said God told him the same thing about Bush. I don't want to turn this into a political discussion but do want to reinforce the notition that spiritual inspiration definitely requires accompanying spiritual discernment. "By their fruits, ye shall know [judge] them."

I agree that if someone today claimed, "I am God," most people would be skeptical, but there are those who do not doubt when someone proclaims, "God wants me to be in political office." Katherine Harris has said she believed God wants her to run for the Senate in Florida. Jeb Bush must not have gotten the same message, because he is on record as saying she can't win.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Darius said...

RACHEL: That's a great insight and parallel - that today few of us would believe someone who claimed to be God, and yet many today believe people who announce, "God wants to put me in political office."

What sense do others make of that?

My first and personal reaction is that the abundant God-talk, so to speak, that's clearly being deliberately introduced by Christian speech writers into the speeches of "Christian Nationalists" (Michelle Goldberg, The Kingdom Coming), is in no small part ulterior motive: let's get the Christian vote.

This makes it hard for me to tell where and to what degree political God-talk reflects the genuine personal faith-perspective of any given politician.

At 6:41 PM, Anonymous Marissa said...

I dunno, it seems kind of pompous, and rather un-Christian to claim that God told you that you should run for office, or that you should be president. It also seems like total bullsh*t. :D Whatever happened to humility???

At 7:04 AM, Blogger mistipurple said...

i have been wanting to say hi for the longest time, at an appropriate time. but since you are still writing pretty heady stuff, and i do need smelling salts now and then, i thought it's finally a sign that i should post. so, "hi!"

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Darius said...

MARISSA: Yeah, "Blessed are the meek" doesn't seem to have been worked into any of Bush or Cheney's speeches yet...

MISTIPURPLE: Hi, thanks for stopping by, and don't worry about things being too "heady." I think most people underestimate their capacity to feel, see, and think about these things.

At 5:38 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Thank you for all your kind words on my blog.

As a Jew, I cannot relate to the passages you quote, but do find you to be a very spiritual and insightful person.

At 6:59 AM, Blogger Darius said...

BARBARA - definitely same to you about being a spiritual and insightful person.

I'm thinking that your not being able to relate to the quoted passages as a Jew may have mostly or entirely to do with assumptions that you may very understandably have about the persepctive of anyone who quotes the New Testament.

Ther's something I'm thinking about posting right after the "Angel" post that may clear this up.


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