Through personal experience having a friend to train with for an endurance event makes all the difference in the world. When you lose momentum, their support and encouragement forces you to strive for your goal, even when you begin to doubt your own abilities. They make you get up on those rainy days and lace up your shoes, when all you want to do is stay in bed and hit the snooze button a few more times. Their commitment inspires you to constantly up the bar, and see how far you can push yourself. Now most of you have figured out I am referring to one of my passions running, but this is where it gets a little tricky.
I am going to apply my running determination and skills to a new type of marathon, a bible marathon! Yes folks, this means I have moved onto phase two of my Biblical Experiment! I am sure you are wondering what the hell is a “bible marathon?” Well it’s quite simple; I am going to read all 66 books of the bible. Yeah, you read that right! All 66 books baby! Being a religion virgin until recently I used to claim ignorance whenever the topic came up and had no desire to learn about this so-called foreign language. Now that I have my feet wet it’s time to jump into the deep end of the pool. I figured if I am trying to discover my own faith and what it means to me; what better way to get the entire picture about religion and God than reading all 66 books!
I know this is a very ambitious task so I have enlisted the help of my good friend Anthony as my reading partner and trainer. The idea of the marathon started out as a bit of a lark between us. After I finished Genesis I was extremely proud of myself! When I told Anthony, he asked how I liked it and if I would read another book? I said sure and he jokingly suggested reading all 66 books. I quickly asked how many books he had read since he has a Christian background and his response was one. Being cheeky I suggested I would give it a go, if he was willing to take the journey with me and to my surprise he agreed! The deal was sealed and no turning back now! He downloaded the Bible Gateway app as well and was good to go!
Now back to Anthony’s previous question about how I liked Genesis? I can honestly say it really wasn’t what I expected. Whenever someone mentioned church, the bible or a priest for that matter my brain would automatically associate with past movies or TV shows as a reference. The ones that stick out the most for me are: Blues Brothers 2000, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, The Exorcist, or the television show Supernatural. I assumed the bible would be a slightly challenging read like Shakespeare, but I was pleasantly surprised.
What I really enjoyed was how it read like an actual story explaining how God created the world in seven days, which for some reason I wasn’t expecting. I am not convinced that it went down like that for real, but I am not dismissing the notion either. God was clever to test Adam and Eve with “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” and surprise they failed the test even though she was influenced by a snake! I totally saw that one coming. It is an interesting angle God took by setting out to punish women by making pregnancy painful. That is an ultimate slap in the face! It says God created humanity in his own image; does that mean everyone is a reflection of God and if so what about people that have a less desirable personal nature? Is this just providing balance to the world?
The most overwhelming part of it was the surplus of names. I swear someone should put this stuff on Ancestry.com for easy referencing and if they did it would be the biggest family tree on the site. I knew there was no way I could retain what child was born to which parent so I had to come to terms quickly with not absorbing all the minor genealogy details and focus on the story itself.
I also loved the entire bit involving Noah and the ark, even though the concept is a little merciless. I don’t know how many movies over the years I have seen that referenced this, but it was good to finally get some clarity going on the subject. Now it was pretty harsh of God to wipe out everyone except the elite few that he favored, but by the sounds of it, there was no choice. The way I see it, God basically went on a trial run creating civilization and well things didn’t really go as planned so he had to abort the mission, wash his hands and start from scratch again. I can understand his heartbreak and how frustrating that must have been, but sometimes there is just no fixing what is broken. I think it was also a good idea when God said, “My breath will not remain in humans forever, because they are flesh. They will live 120 years.” Personally having a life of about 900 years is a little over the top, and wouldn’t this also contribute to over population problems down the road?
Now there were numerous other parts that really threw me for a loop and surprised me. I am not complaining as they made the story interesting, but it was just unexpected. In chapter 19, verse 4 it reads, ‘Before they went to bed, the men of the city of Sodom- everyone from the youngest to the oldest- surrounded the house and called to Lot, “Where are the men who arrived tonight? Bring them out to us so that we may have sex with them.”’ I seriously thought this was the last thing I would find in the bible and to make matters worse Lot said no and instead offered up his own virgin daughters as good faith to the angry mob. He totally gets the father of the year award for that one!
In chapter 22, Abraham was tested by God and instructed to sacrifice his own son Isaac. He believed so strongly in his faith and was ready to follow through on the gruesome task, until the Lord’s messenger intervened. The messenger explained that since Abraham displayed such devotion to God, that he no longer had to kill his and would be rewarded with riches and countless decedents. So he gambled with his own flesh and blood and came out on top. Winner, winner chicken dinner!
What is even more messed up is chapter 38 focuses on prostitution. A woman named Tomar posed as a prostitute so she can trick her own father in law into having sex with her. He found out he had been deceived and wanted the prostitute to burn, until he discovered who she was and let it slide. That would make for an interesting family reunion.
Overall I found Genesis contained all the elements of a mainstream movie; mass murder, suspense, adultery, betrayal, incest, love, and violence. It managed to keep me entertained, while staying educational. Despite some of the darker elements Genesis beautifully illustrated the creation of the heavens and earth; light and darkness; seas and skies; land and vegetation; sun, moon and stars; animals and human beings; family, society and civilization; and sins versus redemption.
Through some new enlightenment supplied by my readings, this now former religion virgin can proudly say I have officially changed my Facebook religious status from a Hunter S. Thompson quote, “Call on God, but row away from the rocks,” to Agnostic. Where will reading the remaining 65 books take me? Who knows, but I am excited for the journey.