Tuesday Bible studies
There are two lunchtime get-togethers that the chaplain at my school holds for staff and students–Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Chaplains in the military, while clergy, serve more of a counselor role. While said Bible studies do revolve around, well, the Christian Bible, since there is a very diverse and varied crowd at the school (and in all of the military, for that matter), things aren’t so much out-and-out Christian as they are contemplative and spiritual.
Which is fine by me. I’m in an, lets say “interesting,” phase with regards to organized religion. I remember a study that Uber peep Santino used during the early days of Flannel, the film company I was with ages ago. The study was from The Barna Group, a very respected research group that focuses on a lot of religious statistical data. Anyway, the statement that became our rallying cry was:
By the year 2010, more than 100 million Americans will look elsewhere than church for spiritual direction.
Thus, Nooma was born as a way to reach those fleeing the church scene.
So, fast forward seven years, and here we are. Every Tuesday, the chaplain shows a Nooma to the attendees at a military school in Maryland. The things are everywhere, actually. I ran into them a bit in Iraq as well. Crazy, how things grow, eh?
Regardless, seeing them highlighted at the school definitely caught my attention. I had gone to the studies off and on before. There was always pizza and soda and the conversations were usually amicable and thought provoking. I liked ’em.
What’s trippy, though, is seeing people watch these movies and then talk about them afterwards.
I imagine authors go through the same experience when they hear other people discussing their books. “What the author meant during this passage was…” And I’m just experiencing the oddity by proxy, as the current Flannel staff actually has direct creative links to the products–I’m just observing.
People derive some strange conclusions about things! It’s usually all harmless critique and speculation. I sit and sip my soda most days. Every once in a while I clear up something–whether someone misunderstands the topic, Rob (the speaker), or was unclear why the filmmakers did such-n-such.
And who the heck am I to do that, even? How do I know exactly what was meant?
The whole things just weirds me out. Luckily, all the various interpretations–what is meant by certain facts, symbols, scenes, whatever–typically is spun in a kindly God way (just have faith, just love, etc.), but it makes me wonder…
…just how much would Paul and some of the believed authors of the Christian Letters think about some of the interpretations of Scripture? Especially as the political and cultural contexts of the texts are largely ignored.
And it takes me back to some of my training during Bible college. Do authors determine the meaning of a text (what did the person writing mean)? Do readers (what do people glean from it)? Or does the text itself become sanitized and, somehow, transcend human influence (general knowledge, a symbol, devoid of context)?
Regardless. Tuesday Bible studies. Trippy.