Basset Hound Christianity (Part 1): This is not Christianity

Basset Hound Christianity is a series of sometimes random, sometimes coherent personal views of mine on Christianity.

“No one is without Christianity, if we agree on what we mean by that word. It is every individual’s individual code of behavior by means of which he makes himself a better human being than his nature wants to be, if he followed his nature only. Whatever its symbol – cross or crescent or whatever – that symbol is man’s reminder of his duty inside the human race.”  -William Faulkner, Paris Review (1956).

I dreamed I went to a Bible study.  We met in one of the out-buildings where banquets were held and the Boy Scouts gathered (until the church kicked them out for financial reasons).  We sat in a circle on metal chairs waiting for the study to begin.  There were no idle conversations or friendly chit-chat as there simply was nothing to say.

The Independent Southern Baptist preacher burst into the building flailing his arms frantically and angrily yelling, “I CAN’T STAND IT! I CAN’T STAND IT! I CAN’T STAND IT!”  He was your stereotypical white Southern Baptist with naught but a white undershirt and white underpants on.  The man was overweight with a rotund stomach and looked to be in his late-60s or early-70s.  In all likely-hood, he was in his late-40s or early-50s and his years of hard-living plus the austere life of an Independent Southern Baptist preacher had taken a toll on his body and, quite possibly, his mind.  He ran screaming to a large back bedroom, closing the door violently behind him.  We all took a minor note of the spectacle, yet we said nothing as there simply was nothing to say.

The preacher’s wife was a simple, plain, yet kind woman in her late-40s and early 50s.  She was mildly weathered in appearance, but she had not succumbed to whatever had harangued her husband.  She paid her husband no mind as he ran past her and slammed the bedroom door.  We had expected the preacher to lead the study, but now his wife began the study with an open Bible in her hands.  “Now,” she said, “I want you to turn your Bibles to 1st Corinthians.”  We did this and looked at the chapter before us.  This, however, was where Bible study deviated from its traditional form.

“I want you all to look up at the ceiling, place the Bible on your face at 1st Corinthians, and stand on your chairs,” said the preacher’s wife.  Everyone, but myself, did so.  Many began trying to out-do the others by standing on their tip-toes and yelling, “I feel You, Lord! I feel You!”  Of course, some on their tip-toes hit the ceiling’s fluorescent lights, causing large electric shocks to course through them as glass slivers rained down.  These devout parishioners felt something, but it was not the Lord.  I marveled at how the Bibles could stay on their faces since one would think the combined weight of the Old Testament and the New Testament before 1st Corinthians would have caused the Bibles to fall off.

No one publicly questioned this practice.  I simply sat there looking at my Bible turned to 1st Corinthians in silent thought and puzzlement.  I briefly considered joining in.  However, I looked around at my cohorts standing on their chairs yelling and some being mildly electrocuted.  The preacher’s wife was not standing on a chair, but she did have a Bible on her face and was actively taking part in the exercise.  A thought came to me.  I thought it in a matter-of-fact and logical way, but the implications were huge as it meant that the practices and ways of thinking of my church, perhaps even my entire religion, were wrong.

That thought was this:  This is not Christianity.


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