Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011.03.30 Bible as Memoir

The Bible is a memoir. It is written from memory and out of love.

It is passionate about the unfolding of a powerful faith story written to tell how Divinity is present in transformative, creating, and healing ways—and continues to be present.

Because it describes an evolving process of understanding of the relationship between humanity and divinity over time, it is necessarily more impressionistic than literal.

Memoir is like an impressionist painting. You stand back and you see a whole picture but when you go up close you see a bunch of multicolored dots, daubs of many colors, fragments of happenings, fragments of feelings, snapshots of detail.

You remember the bright yellow dress you wore, the red tie of the man who bent over you, the dappled sky of the afternoon your first felt like a grownup when you were only eight. You zoom in and pull back, over and over until you know where all the colors belong—and maybe why.

Because the Bible was written many years after a spiritual experience, and because it is revelation-over-time, it is open-ended, and subject to multiple interpretations.

Interpretations, both individual and collective, are made in the context of time, over time. This is what makes biblical memoir Holy. It is flexible, speaking from generation to generation.

Every memoirist hopes that her own story will speak to a fraction of people— enough to be remembered—and be a little holy.