Recently I have had a neon sign over my head visible to atheists telling them I am one of them. If there is one within a five mile radius, they come over to talk to me and I listen. I was wondering what nugget of information I was getting from these concrete thinkers until one caught my interest in a big way. "Ms. Ruza did you know there is a unicorn in the Bible?" What? What? A unicorn? He told me that Penn Gillette responds to Bible thumpers by telling them to read the Bible and they will no longer truly believe. For me that came across as a challenge and I felt like the gauntlet was thrown.
So I dusted off my Bible that lay unread for seven years. I read the New Testament in Catholic school, but we played a game of sticking pencils up each other's butts when we took turns reading around the room. We were bored teenagers and the monk seemed to be out of it most of the time. The monk sat there half drunk we found out later when another monk savagely murdered the resident nun (Holy Cross murders). It was all a little heady for someone who seemed to always be seeking a tangible truth. I began reading on Yom Kippur when I had the day off.
The first thing that struck me was how dense the reading is. It goes on about family lineage and for a girl that was mostly orphaned by age 23, it seemed a little snobby to brag about family. But there was no mention of the elusive Lilith, but plenty undertone on the danger of female sexuality. But who were these people. The names struck me as almost something a child would make up, but then there were names I recognized such as Adam, Jared, and Seth. It seemed so odd to finally be reading the story that many consider ground zero for the start of life. I felt uncomfortable reading it.
It seemed to be a great distortion of faith to put these impossible things down on paper. In my household, if you questioned anything about Catholicism my mother's washer woman hands of death would get you back in line. When I told her in 5th grade I thought God was a ball of light, she told me I was crazy and said he was an old man. In an act of bravery, I told her I could be right and then stopped. She was gritting her teeth and I grew afraid. When I found Buddhism in Thailand it was the proverbial heaven. They believed in energy and feeling the emptiness of the universe which to someone who felt crowded by guilt was refreshing.
The fact remained that asking questions and pondering the details of Genesis was a big no-no. So reading it now as a Buddhist Catholic made me feel snarky and unfit to read it. I didn't want to read it if I was going to be disrespectful in any way. But I had to read it at the same time because I never let fear get in my way for very long and I had accepted an intellectual challenge for better or worse. I felt like I needed Noah's flood to clear my head and continued reading. But here are my questions:
1. Why are Lilith and dinosaurs not really mentioned in the NIV?
2. God is spiteful in the OT, why?
3. What is up with all those people living so long?
4. Could an infertile woman in this day and age feel a kinship with Sarah who never got pregnant until 90? And then use infertility drugs?
5. Why was the Tower of Babel seen as a lesson against pride when it comes across as an issue of communication?
6. Did you know Adam and Jesus are in direct lineage with each other?
I am continuing to read because the deeper I go, the more questions I have. Perhaps I need to stay away from one Christian website that argued that unicorns could have once existed and gone the way of the dodo bird.