I am sorry to be so late in getting up this post. The long and the short of it is, as Adam said to the Lord in the third chapter of Genesis, “I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
No, I’m not naked, but I am pretty ashamed. The reason? I failed (quite pitifully, if you must know) at last week’s Adventure.
I could blame the fact that I had company Wednesday and Sunday and was out of the house Tuesday night and all day Saturday.
I could blame the fact that (who could have guessed it?) I actually have very, very little free time after my responsibilities to family, job, and family again have all been satisfactorily discharged each day.
I could just blame the devil, the world, and my sinful flesh (let the Lutherans understand) and have done with it.
Whatever the reason, I must confess to you that I have not quite finished Adventure 6. And by “not quite finished,” I mean, “I’m still stuck in the middle of day 2, somewhere towards the end of the book of Acts.”
I do plan to keep going with this Adventure. Even though I’ve only completed a day and a half of my admittedly ambitious seven-day reading schedule, I’m far enough into it to know that I really want to see it through to the end. I’ve also made some interesting observations about the reading I have done, including that:
- Jesus is incredible. Awesome. Funny. Inscrutable. Amazing. It’s pretty hard not to admire, love, and even — dare I say it? — adore him once you’ve gotten to know him through the Gospel writers’ accounts. (There were a bunch of other adjectives I wanted to use here, too, but all of them seemed a little too crass for the Son of Man. Still: think of every word you’ve ever used or heard others use to describe Teddy Roosevelt or Chuck Norris. Got ’em all in your head? Good. That’s the way I think of Jesus when large chunks of the Gospels are running freshly through my mind.)
- It’s hard to claim after reading the New Testament that Jesus’ divinity was made up by Christians in later centuries or that Jesus was just a “good moral teacher.” Jesus’ words and actions in the Gospels (especially put in the context of the Law of Moses) and the interpretation of those words and actions by the rest of the NT writers make it pretty clear (albeit in a sometimes roundabout way) both who Jesus is (Son of God) and why he was here (cross and resurrection; fulfilling the Old Testament law; calling and saving sinners; forming the church; etc.).
- Matthew is Jewish. Really Jewish. And in a very good way. The running motif in his Gospel seems to be, “And this was said/done to fulfill what was written by the Prophet [fill in the blank].” He knows his OT really, really well. I’ve kind of known this about Matthew for a while now, but reading the book again straight through made it really stand out to me.
- There’s a moment about two-thirds through the book of Acts where Luke stops abruptly talking about “they” and starts talking about “we.” The footnote in my study Bible told me what I already figured out (as study Bible footnotes usually do): that scholars believe this marks the point when Luke began traveling with Paul on his missionary journeys. Given the fact that not even the Gospels use “we” language routinely, however, this mundane moment struck me as both a little weird and yet somehow also very, very cool.
- It is really hard to read the Bible at high speed. I’m normally a very quick reader, but zipping through the New Testament was and is (as should be obvious by now) very challenging for me. In every chapter, I found that there were dozens of moments that made me desperately want to slow down and linger over the text, letting it sink in, giving myself more time to process it and mull it over before moving on.
- Even though it’s difficult, it is worthwhile to try to read the Bible at high speed now and again. Yes, it can be useful to crawl through the scriptures at a snail’s pace, thoroughly digesting small portions at a time, but there is definitely something to be said for consuming whole books in a sitting. At an art museum, I like to look over every piece of minutiae in a detailed painting, to be sure, but I also must save time to stand back and take it all in at once if I’m really going to get the full effect of the work. It’s the same with the Bible. Most of the New Testament books were written not as bite-sized episodes but as cohesive units of prose, and it’s good to read them that way at least part of the time.
So, that’s it, I guess. I failed pretty badly, but I learned something anyway.
In other (more cheerful) news, we finally finished reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to the children last week. Adventure 1 is now officially two thirds completed!
Also, it’s bedtime. Already.
UPDATE: Ken just gave me his report for last week. Unlike me, he says he did finish reading the entire New Testament. I don’t know when he did it or how he did it (I never saw him reading), but since he is a meticulously honest person, I must assume that, if he says he did it, he did, in fact, do it. So — good for him!