Sunday, November 11, 2018

Weird Bible reading for a Remembrance Day ceremony

I just got back from a Remembrance Day ceremony at our local war memorial, which might surprise one or two regular readers of this blog (ha! if only there were such a thing, even one or two!). As an atheist, this is not something I am prone to do, but we were out walking in the vicinity anyway, so we thought, "Well, why not?"
It wasn't a particularly edifying experience, I wouldn't say. A military accordian band (is that a thing?) played some old tunes, and an army chaplain, who may or may not have been slightly drunk, intoned interminable prayers. The chaplain was also possibly the most tone-deaf person I have ever heard, and he insisted on mangling hymn after hymn at full amplified volume.
What struck me most, though was a particular Bible reading from the book of John (12:22-26, if you are interested). I'm not sure why the chaplain chose that particular reading for Remembrance Day, but it includes the rather extraordinary line: "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for everlasting life". Say, what? Maybe it loses something in the translation from the Greek, but, setting aside the fact that it doesn't it actually make a whole lot of sense (keep his life for everlasting life?), the clear implication that one should hate life and not love it is kind of hard to understand.
I did try to find a Christian explanation for it, but all I could find (without too much effort, admittedly) was singularly unconvincing. This source talks about "love" and "hate" being figures of speech concerning our priorities in our daily lives (what?), and that "Jesus is clearly not suggesting that his followers should abuse their bodies" (that is not at all clear to me).
Anyway, I don't want to belabour the point, but this just seems to be one of those bits of the Bible that simply doesn't make much sense (and there are many, despite the contention of some that the St. James' version is one of the great works of English literature). And either way, it doesn't seem particularly appropriate for a Remembrance Day ceremony.

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