This isn’t really a religious blog.
However . . . it isn’t really not a religious blog, either.
I am a Christian (if that hasn’t yet become obvious), and in the same way that all my other various identities — as a woman, as a young thirty-something, as a wife, as a mother, as a reader, as a writer, as a runner, as a gardener, as a musician, as . . ., as . . ., as . . ., ad infinitum — exert a natural sway over the editorial direction of the blog, so too does my identity as a believer in Jesus Christ influence what I want to write about and how I write it. So, yes, I do like to write about Christian things in a Christian way.
However, even despite the natural leanings of my own personal faith, it seems to me perfectly natural that some of my Adventures in Timeless Living should have a religious bent. Religion, after all, played a key role in the kind of old-fashioned way of life practiced by my grandparents (and, very likely, yours too).
Every one of my grandparents were (or are) faithful churchgoers. All of them knew (or know) the Bible well; the Lutherans among them learned their Small Catechism, as well. All said (or say) prayers before (and sometimes after) meals and before bed.
As I contemplate this week’s adventure, I remember especially my sainted Grandpa Mac. Grandpa Mac never went to high school. In fact, he left school after the fourth grade to work on the farm and help support his widowed mother and numerous siblings. He never was what you’d call a highly literate person — BUT . . . he knew the King James Bible frontwards and backwards. He could find any passage in a matter of seconds, and he could quote large portions of the Good Book from memory.
I’m reminded, too, thinking of what lies ahead this week, of my favorite Hollywood musical from the 1950s — Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which is set in the wild frontier land of the Oregon territory in the 1840s. The heroine of this story, Millie Pontipee, is remarkable among her family in that, unlike her husband and his brothers, she knows how to read and plans to teach her children how to read. But what does she read? She has only two books to her name — Plutarch’s Lives . . . and the Bible.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. I’m tired and sore from an afternoon of yard work, and I have dirt under my fingernails that I want to go wash out. Besides, I really don’t think I need to convince anyone that my ancestors (and probably your ancestors, too) had a measure of biblical literacy and religious devotion that far outstrips even that of so-called “committed” Christians in this highly secularized age.
So, in order that we might recapture a little of the essence of this old-timey-religious way of life, here is our Adventure in Timeless Living for the week:
Read the entire New Testament in a week. You get extra points if you choose to read it from a translation instead of a paraphrase — double the extra points if you read it from the old King James Version. (I won’t be, but I definitely respect anyone who does.) I’ll be reading from the New International Version; Ken will, I think, be using the English Standard Version and possibly the Greek New Testament, too.
When I mentioned to someone at church today that I was going to be doing this, she looked at me a little shocked. “The whole thing?” she asked. It was a natural question, I guess. When you only read a little bit at a time, slowly and with a great deal of reverence (as we do in church), the New Testament seems like it must be at least as long as War and Peace. But it’s not.
In my Bible, the New Testament comes to more than 500 pages — true — but more than half of that is study notes (which I find mostly pointless and generally do not read). The tiny Bible given me by the Gideons contains the entire New Testament (plus Psalms and Proverbs from the Old Testament) and still fits in the back pocket of my jeans.
In other words, I think we’ll manage.
I plan to read the New Testament according to the following scheme, which is not quite as arbitrary as it may seem:
- Monday: the Gospel of Matthew and the letter to the Hebrews.
- Tuesday: the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.
- Wednesday: the Gospel of Mark and the letter to the Romans.
- Thursday: the remaining letters of Paul, to the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, the Thessalonians, Titus, Timothy, and Philemon.
- Friday: the letters of Peter, James, and Jude.
- Saturday: the Gospel, letters, and Apocalypse (Revelation) of John.
Ken told me he’ll be taking a different approach — though he hasn’t spelled it out for me yet.
Since this is obviously more reading than the children can do in a week, we’ll be doing something a little different with them. (They are really starting to get into these Adventures, and we don’t want them to feel left out. They like the sense of accomplishment they feel when we get through one together, and they really seem to enjoy the suspense of finding out what the next one will be.) Their modified adventure, then, will be to listen to one Bible story from the New Testament every night and to memorize one verse of Scripture each by the end of the week.
I’ve been a Christian my entire life, but this week’s Adventure will be an entirely new experience for me. I can’t wait to let you know how it goes.