Finally, I Wrote the Bible (Sort Of)

Everyday Matters Bible

Today, I opened a box of irony.

It was from Hendrickson Publishers and Christianity Today.

A long time ago, I was a bible major at a small college. I switched out, because it occurred to me that my options in "ministry" were limited. After all, I never liked kids (much) and I wasn't worship-leader material—two classic areas where women can find "ministry opportunities."

My thing was ideas. Writing. Shaping. Yes, maybe even preaching.

But I'm the practical sort, and I could see that my gifts weren't going to make it (much) in a traditional church setting.

Pair that with my strange little feelings of arguing with bible writers as if I really had a seat at the table (much like the rabbis and the theologians do), and maybe you can see why I opened a box of irony today.

Twenty years after I closed the book on working seriously with the bible, I have now written a piece of the bible.

Well, sort of.


Everyday Matters Bible LL Barkat

And, for the record, I'm pretty sure the scribes changed a little of what I put on the scroll. But we'll leave that be.

[UPDATE: I've received some questions via various social media channels, about the use of my work in this Bible, and whether or not I gave permission and so forth. As is standard with many publishing outlets, my contract with Christianity Today granted them permission to re-use the work for later projects, should they ever have need. They did, and that's perfectly within their rights. The question of editing is a fascinating one, but let it be said that all editors do *edit* for their particular needs. Variation exists in whether that editing is passed by the writer. Even with me, in my own job as Managing Editor. :)]

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A Silence of Such Fullness

We think of prayer, often, as words.

And it can be.

But I loved this, from Peggy Rosenthal's Knit One, Purl a Prayer: "[there was] a rich substance in the silence after the monks' chanting of each psalm."

There are silences that are empty. There are silences that are fraught with tension.

But this silence, the kind that Rosenthal describes, was a "pause where the action was."

For me, such silence can come after a living-psalm. Like this past Sunday, when I lay down near the river, and the day felt endless and the water felt forever-deep.

Where do you experience the fullness of a silence? Maybe it is time for some kind of psalm...

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Prayer: The Great Cop-Out

Warning: this post may be hazardous to your dysfunctional prayer life.

There. I said it up front. So if you are feeling uncomfortable, you have time to go elsewhere. I won't be offended. :)

In the past few years, I've been doing a lot of thinking about how our spiritual approaches can sometimes be exercises in condoned dysfunction. Condoned because...who wants to argue with anything that has God attached to it? That just feels too dangerous. So we often accept whatever comes in the name of spirituality (and God), without digging very deeply into the dynamics.

This morning, reading The Education of Millionaires, it struck me that prayer is one of these condoned practices that, in truth, can sometimes be a cop-out and therefore a form of dysfunction.

When did it strike me? This quote, to be exact, which is the opposite of a dysfunctional prayer approach to problems...

"You see a problem in your life or in your surroundings and fix it. You don't count on some higher authority to make things better; you make it better yourself, whether or not you have the authority."

Throughout Ellsberg's excellent book, he follows person after person who approached life as a problem solver, to good effect—not only propelling them towards greater success but also making them more able to give compassionately to the world.

What problems are you (and I) avoiding fixing today, by praying about them instead of actually taking action to effect change? Dangerous question, I know. It is meant to be.

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