I think it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote, “Make your own Bible.” He suggested doing this by selecting and collecting all the words and sentences that in all our reading have spoken to us in our depths. Thomas Jefferson wrote his own Bible, but he used only the words of the Bible as his source, including in his Bible only that which he believed to be important. Emerson was suggesting that in making your own Bible, you select and collect all that you have read that has meaning to you, not just from the Bible (Moses, John and Paul) but also from Shakespeare, Kazantzakis, Plato, and Einstein.
Through the years I’ve made my own Bible of sorts, calling it “Notes of Note,” a collection of quotes gleaned from years of reading the words of others. If God spoke once upon a time to the writer of Genesis, Ecclesiastes and to John, then God has been speaking to and through others through all centuries and their words may be just as inspired (inspirited with the divine) as those words we find in the Bible. Emerson wrote in his journal that he went to Shakespeare, Goethe, Swift, and Tennyson, and submitted himself to them, “becoming an organ of hearing,” absorbing into himself all that they had to say. His compensation for this was “an entire new mind” by which he could “enjoy the universe” through the writings of a hundred different minds.
Rufus Jones suggested that the Gospels According to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are based on their experience, and that we really do not have a Gospel until we write our own—according to, and based on, our own unique experiences and understanding.
Each morning I read from both the Bible and my “Notes of Note” finding inspiration and meaning from both. The Gospel According to Hal is found in nearly fifty years of sermons—and you read portions of this gospel according to me whenever you read this Blog. Make your own Bible, for you really do not have one of your very own until you do.
|Sunrise over the Aegean Sea|