Monday, January 5, 2009

Parakeet Practice


McKnight identifies "blue parakeets" as those sections of Scripture that don't seem to fit into our [personal, denominational, churchly, etc] organizing schema for the Bible. Of course, the identity of a "blue parakeet" can vary by observer! For some, the violent OT passages where God judges the Canaanites in the harshest possible terms are blue parakeets; for others, passages that [appear to?] teach female subordination are blue parakeets; for still others, passages that teach God's intention to save everyone (various kinds of universalism) are parakeets, just as graphic descriptions of hell are parakeets for others.
So let's try a case study together: consider these lines from Psalm 8: "What is man that thou are mindful of him, the son of man that you care about him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor." Let's set these lines alongside Job's complaint, "What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment" (Job 7:17-18, but it's a good idea to read all of chapter 7 to get the flow).
Question: which passage [if either] is the blue parakeet for you? Why?

16 comments:

Bruce said...

Ok, maybe they could disagree to someone, but both are saying that God pays close attention to us. The speaker in one case likes it, the other one doesn't.

John the Musician said...

I'd have to say that in the past I would have gone with Job and called David a blue parakeet. I think though that as I (hopefully) mature I'm starting to end up some where in the middle and I'm starting to see both sides as parts of a whole. Are we honored by God? Absolutely! Are we also tested every moment? Of couse. Just two peas in a pod imo.

Brian Emmet said...

One of the things a discussion like this can do is highlight the ways in which we sometimes only listen to one "set" of Scriptures, especially when the "sets" seem to contradict one another, as here. We need what Job has to say, because that fits much of life experience--but we need Ps 8 also. God seems to have "located" himself in the mysterious intersection between these two perspectives.

FrankLYours said...

Frank Dawson
Do the statements in the Psalm and in Job show that God has a very balanced perspective of man; but that man does not have a very balanced perspective of God?

Brian Emmet said...

Het, Frank! Thanks for honoring us with your virtual presence!

I agree with your point; may we learn to live in God's perspectives!

John M. said...

Hey Frank! Great to hear from you! Good comments all. Sorry I've been a bit "disengaged". I just started back to school this week.

smokin joe said...

I have not really thought of anything to add to what has been said... but I am reading along with you. Also, the hard drive in my laptop failed a few days ago (thank God I learned early on that "Jesus Saves" -- and backs-up) so I have not had regular access to the internet. I think Frank and Johnthemusician pretty much nailed it ...

John the Musician said...

*flexes*

Nailing it ftw! (ftw means for the win)

Anywho, I've actually almost finished the book, and I think that because I've read most of it I understand where you're coming from with the discussion, but I wonder if perhaps it's more difficult for anyone who hasn't read the book to totally understand what you're getting out without the helpful reference of McKnight's many examples. The closer I get to finishing the book, the more "traditional views on biblical interpretation seem to start unraveling a bit.

At least as far as the discussion on women in Paul's letters, it seems to me that many people have made a habit of silencing those passages that we don't understand in the bible, and simply avoiding looking them straight in the eye.

John M. said...

Don't know if this is a "blue parakeet" or not, but I have a question. In Gen. 7, God tells Noah to, "take on board with you seven pairs of every clean animal... one pair of every unclean animal..." Then in chapter 8 it says that Noah built an altar to God (after the flood) and sacrificed "clean" animals to sacrifice to God.

This was way before the Mosaic law was instituted, so how did Noah know abou "clean" and "unclean" animals?

steve H said...

Now logged on for the first time since hip replacement. Good to see you all are still communicating.

Hi, Frank!

Recovery is going smoothly and steadily. Will be a while probably before I can sit at my regular computer and take much active part, but you all are not forgotten.

Brian Emmet said...

Hey, Steve, great to hear from you, and glad that you're recuperating on course. Keep it up!

Brian Emmet said...

John, back to your question: it could be that Noah, because he knew how to listen to God, received "information" from God that was later codified in the Law. So it perhaps could be either a matter of hearing God, or something more along the lines of "spiritual intuition." More liberal readers/interpreters of Scripture would more likely view this as an obvious anachronism: the author of Genesis 7 was not, in fact, Moses, but a much later figure who, possessing the Law, wrote it back into the story of Noah.

steve H said...

Thanks for the call from the Keys! It was a treat to share in the fun even from a distance.

smokin joe said...

new post up with photos from the camping trip...

John Norton said...

Not sure if this one is closed up yet, but I have one that I have been chewing on lately:
The many passages on prayer in the Bible paint a complex picture of what prayer is and what prayer does. "Ask and you will receive," (Jn 16:24) sounds like a promise, but isn't this better understood as a metaphor?

smokin joe said...

since you are a 'lit' guy, can you give a brief definition of what is a 'metaphor'?

I assume what you mean is that we don't always receive just because we ask ... therefore the command, 'ask and you will receive' must be interpreted as a metaphore or poetic hyperbole ..

I think of prayer as alignment with God and communion with him ... within that broad understanding there are a lot of sub-categories... I personally don't spend as much time interceeding or petitioning as I used to ... perhaps just a reflection of the season I am in. I spend much more time just sitting in his presence, meditating or contemplating his attributes.