Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Project: Foundations of Faith

For years I have been kicking around the idea of writing a book about faith, religion, and early Christianity.  I have been studying the foundations of Christianity, Judaism, and myths for decades.  However, I have never felt that my voice was unique enough or important enough to be recorded and shared with the world.  My studies have been independent and I am not accredited by any academic or religious institution in these areas.  I am a researcher by nature and by training.  I have multiple college degrees in a wide range of fields.  In other words, I have been trained to think and to analyze.
I started studying the foundations of Christianity as an undergraduate student.  I can remember taking a history class that covered early Christianity.  The topic of my research paper was Origen.  I wish I still had that paper somewhere. All I remember was misspelling his name on the cover sheet and probably multiple times throughout.  Keep in mind I typed this paper in the old days on a manual typewriter.  Word processors were just appearing and personal computers were too expensive for me.   Since that time I have continued my casual interest in religion.

With the advent of the internet, channels of learning opened.  iTunesU became my favorite site.  Since my internet connection was slow, I was limited to audio only files but I still managed to find whole courses on religion and Christianity.  I listened to courses from Stanford, Duke, Harvard, and many seminaries from different denominations.  Many of the courses I had to hear several times before I could follow the conversations.  Hermeneutics is still one of the most difficult for me to understand but that is the nature of biblical textual interpretation.  I learned enough to know how much I don't know.

I could spend the rest of my days happily researching and studying.  One topic leads to another which leads to another.  I love learning.  In the past few years I have learned more than in all my previous decades combined.  I am like a sponge soaking up the knowledge and thriving on the quest to learn more.  There comes a time when I must share what I have learned or risk all the learning dying with me.  What I write may not change the world or have any impact what so ever.  Or, it might.  I am not writing for anyone other than me.  I am writing to organize my thoughts and my knowledge into a coherent form.  When I am gone if my boys miss my "fact of the day" or my earth shattering revelation, they can read this and remember all the strange conversations over the years.

Structure of the Project-
For the past couple years I have been in a series of bible studies with several ladies from the community.  This is the first time I ever participated in these popular small group bible studies.  I didn't know what to expect and I would have been wrong if I had hazarded a guess.  I come from a different religious and academic background than the target audience of these small group bible studies.  While I greatly enjoy the social interactions with my new found friends, I find the bible study itself to be lacking and in some cases heretical.  Current historical scholarship is ignored and the context of scripture is rarely considered.  Pop psychology and wishy-washy theology is promoted without any thought.  A single line from the bible is analyzed and often given significance beyond anything that is rational when the same line is studied with the rest of the passage in the context of history.

In our highly charged times, people need to have accurate information about religion.  Theologians learn different information than what is taught in parishes.  We can't afford to have misinformation muddy the waters of religion.  My mind was blown when I learned that Jesus never would have answered if someone called out "Jesus".  That was not his name.  How can I have gone to church for over 40 years and studied Christianity for decades without this becoming obvious?  How could I have not known the actual name of the person we call "Savior" and "Lord"?  If we don't know the most basic information about Jesus (Yeshua), how can we have a real discussion about Christianity?  The first part of my project will address some of these basic historical facts.  Without context, text is useless.

My pledge is to write for at least 2 or 3 hours every day during Lent.  I will post summaries on my blog but I plan to publish the final version on Amazon.  I am far from independently wealthy,   In fact, I am the opposite,  I need to money to pay bills just like everyone else.  I will establish a Patreon account if anyone would like to support my efforts.