Zombies and Vampires and Elephants, Oh My!

So, you all know that I missed the meeting of the Bible study on Sunday and that the leader wanted to make it up to me. From a Facebook post, I knew she was meeting on Wednesday at Starbuck’s to talk about Esther and Ruth, but I didn’t think I would make it.  I’m too busy.  This bit of info will be important in a paragraph or two.  I promise.

This week’s Bible study started out with a request to do a “fast” from negative thinking for 24 hours.  It also wanted us to reflect on this passage, “Pleasant thoughts are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24, NIV)

I totally believe in the power of positive thinking, so I was like, awesome, let’s do it!

So, here’s how my train of thought went in the past 12 hours. Last night, as instructed, I read from John 5-8.  FYI, I find the Bible difficult to read.  I can’t be the only one.  And I’m like an avid reader.  I’ve usually got two or three books going at a time.  But the Bible?  It doesn’t give me the kind of narrative details that I want to know.

So, I get to this part.  For those who want a more interactive experience, it starts at John 6:51.

51 I am the living bread which came down from Heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.

I am confused. And apparently, so are the men he’s speaking to.

52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

I know, right?!

53 Then Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.

 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

Like a zombie!

I know I’m not the first person to have had that thought, but that’s exactly where my mind went.  Here I am trying to think positive thoughts and I start imagining Jesus as a zombie.  And that’s not what’s supposed to happen.

55 For My flesh is food indeed and My blood is drink indeed

56 He who eats My flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

Is Jesus speaking metaphorically?  Like belief in him is as sustaining as a 9 grain loaf of bread and a glass of organic milk?  And if so, why doesn’t he just say so?  What would happen to Jesus in 2012 having this same conversation?  I don’t mean to sound disrespectful of Jesus, but people would casually dismiss him as someone who watches The Walking Dead perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

Okay, so I finished reading the John chapters and then I went on to the next part of the study about choices. I was asked to think of a time when God asked me to do something difficult or risky.

And that’s the problem right there.  How do I know if God is talking to me?

So, I drifted off to sleep and woke up as I usually do at 6am.  I stumbled out of bed and shuffled towards my kitchen.  Usually, I can smell coffee which makes me feel better, but this morning there was no coffee.  The light on the coffee maker was on, but there was nothing in the pot.  I checked to see if I’d remembered to put water in the well.  Yep.  Coffee was loaded.  I unplugged it.  I plugged it back in.  I pressed the button repeatedly.  I prayed. Please God, I can’t function without my coffee.  You should know this.  Please make the coffee maker work.

But it didn’t.  God had a different plan.  He didn’t tell me this plan because he wasn’t talking to me, but I immediately thought of the Starbucks down the street.  Yes, the exact Starbucks where my Bible study leader and a group of women were meeting in three hours.  I couldn’t wait that long to wake up, so I went to the drive through, but the seed was planted.

With a rather fuzzy mind, I thought about belief in God this morning.  Blame it on the lack of caffeine in my system or the previous night’s vision of Jesus as a Zombie, but I thought of an old vampire flick from the 80’s called “Fright Night.” Hollywood recently remade it.  I haven’t seen the old version since the 80’s, but I vaguely remember a scene with Chris Sarandon as the vampire confronting the vampire killer.  The man grabs a crucifix to ward off Chris Sarandon’s advances. Chris Sarandon is not amused nor is he scared.  He laughs and crushes the crucifix with his hand.  “You have to have faith for this to work on me.”  In other words, you’ve got to have faith.

And now a musical interlude.

Which brings me to the Bible Study group at Starbuck’s and elephants in the room.

So, I showed up and we all gathered at a front table. I pretty much monopolized the entire conversation with questions and the story of my coffee maker which might or might not be a sign from God.  I asked about how God could speak to me.  Would I hear a voice?  Should I be looking for signs?

The Bible study leader contemplated this question carefully and said that there could be signs, but it’s not like she could “Ask God for a sign, like the next person to walk through the door will be wearing a blue shirt.”  Her back was to the door, and I kid you not, just as she said this, a man wearing a blue button down shirt walked through the door.

“He just did,” I deadpanned.

I took it as a sign, but then again, I’m kind of kooky and look for meaning in broken coffee makers.

We all got a good laugh out of that one.  And then I asked if I could attend church with her next month.  And it’s a go.  And then she began to tell me about this class at her church called the elephant in the room and one was about gay marriage.  And I was like “For the record, I’m all for it.”  I was alone in this sentiment, which leads me back to thoughts about belief.

I’m running a little long with this post.  Don’t worry, folks.  I’m not going to take my rainbow colored ball and leave the playground.  I’m in.  Open heart, open mind.  Things happen for a reason.  At least in my book they do.

I’m gonna leave you with a song.

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13 Responses to Zombies and Vampires and Elephants, Oh My!

  1. trayce primm says:

    This reminds me that I’m not the only person who has a little trouble with those who believe the Bible is the literal, exact word of God. I kinda lean more toward metaphorical interpretation. I had a client one day who was loudly berating Mormonism. Not my cup of latte, but it has as much chance of being The Way as anything so I jumped in: I told the berater that I couldn’t judge because I was raised in a strange cult that practiced ritual cannibalism. Horrified, she asked what religion. When I said Christian, she was apoplectic, literally sputtering in outrage. I asked if her church did Communion. When she said of course, I intoned: this is my body, eat. this is my blood, drink with as much drama as I could invoke. Never saw the client again for some reason.

    • Well, it’s certainly challenging, that’s for sure. There are so many religions and I imagine they all think they are the way, Well if that’s true, that makes everyone else wrong. I think a major source of conflict is when we insist on being right. If we feel we’re on the right team, then we’re winners, but at what cost?
      I’m going to look a lot at behavior vs belief. You know the expression what would Jesus do? Do is action. Notice it’s not what would Jesus think?

  2. Shedrick says:

    I’ve also had a lot of trouble with the idea that God speaks to people. I’ve never really experienced such a thing, myself. It just seems like when He does speak, He tends to say what that person wants to hear. But that could be my agnosticism showing 🙂

    I’m really pleasantly surprised by the way this group seems to embrace your questioning and your journey. That, in my experience, is pretty rare. And pretty awesome.

    I’m really enjoying this blog!

    • Thank you, Shedrick! I appreciate that. This blog is very new and I imagine at some point that there will be some disagreement. Maybe I’m preaching to the choir at this point. I certainly don’t want to turn this blog into a debate. My brother became a Christian Fundamentalist in prison and he was constantly telling me how WRONG I was. If anything, it repelled me and I don’t think it’s the right approach to win friends or influence people about something you love. Not that I’m trying to influence anyone. I just want to explore and write about something. If people want to follow my journey and talk about it, that’s cool. I want that. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Hi Pamela. I am going to continuously give you my opinions as a religious person who has been involved in interfaith activities for years – until you tell me by email to stop 🙂 No, I’m really serious. I don’t want to take your blog in a direction you don’t want it to go. That said…

    One of the challenges with studying religious texts is that they require guidance and historical context – as do religious beliefs themselves.

    I haven’t read the bible, so I won’t – and can’t – comment on its content, but my understanding is that the Catholic belief in transubstantiation is not held by many (most?) other Christian denominations, which suggests that the verses you cite may be read by some as metaphor and others as literal. Bear in mind also that the original biblical text is rooted in ancient languages, so it doesn’t use the same English that writers of zombie movies would use.

    As for destiny and divine decree: in my humble opinion that’s not the best topic to start a religious quest with, although of course everyone’s journey is personalized. I believe the best place to start is with an attempt to understand the deity and/or fundamental beliefs of a faith practice. Buddhism has a different belief about divine intervention than Christianity, which is different from Islam which is different from Wicca, etc., etc. They are different because their belief in the creating and sustaining force in the world is different.

    • I have no problem with you offering your opinions. I am full aware that all books have to be looked at in the historical context in which they were written. Hopefully, that’s what the preacher, priest, rabbi, whatever will do in their sermon. At least that’s what I’m hoping they do.
      Here’s the set up for my journey. I am like an average Jane who decides to pick a religion. I kind of think of it as “shopping.” I want to go to the place that makes me feel comfortable, inspired and possibly at home. I don’t want to become a scholar. I will read the texts and try to interpret them as best as I can and I’m going to write about what comes up for me. I start going to church this Sunday and I’m evaluating each destination on this journey based on place, the people I meet, the beliefs and what they do for their community. I basically know nothing and I have an inkling that I’m not alone. I think many people give up because it’s so confusing, or they just stay with the religion they were born into. I think there are many paths, I’ve just to find the one that fits me.

  4. trayce primm says:

    my girlfriend described herself as a Babptist-Buddhist. When asked what they believed she said with a straight face: we belive that Buddhists shouldn’t dance

  5. Suze says:

    Pamela, I’m going through all of the blogs I follow this morning and then come upon this worthy, worthy adventure. Thank you for linking to it on your other blog. I will now follow both.

  6. JT O'Neill says:

    See, those reactions that you were having to the biblical passages were mine as a kid growing up in a very Catholic family. I just didn’t get it. As for God talking to me? I think I am pretty darn open but I can’t get that one either. Perhaps I just resistant to the idea for some reason – as if my intellect (the scientist in me?) wants to fight this god notion.

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