Out of the blue one day, I decided, “I’m going to read the Bible.”
It truly hit me out of nowhere, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it.
A year is a long time to do a single project…especially when the goal is to do a piece every single day. But I’m going to do it.
My Goal for This Project
I want to read the Bible with a completely open mind. Of course I’ll inevitably bring my own experiences into it, as we do with every book we read.
But I want to read it without preconceived notions. It’s been so long since I’ve opened the Bible that I hope I can read it with a fresh mind.
And of course I’m documenting my daily readings. Why? Because writing helps me reflect on and interpret what I’ve read.
I’m sharing it with the world (or the few of you following along) out of pure curiosity. I want to know what you think. Do you agree with my interpretations? Do you disagree? I want to know. I want a conversation.
On the other hand, if no one reads or comments, I’ll be perfectly happy upon completing a year-long project.
My Background with Religion
Even though I grew up in the church, I’ve never read the Bible. Sure, I followed along during scripture readings and know all the children’s parables. But I’ve never truly read the Bible.
As a child, I did all the church things. My family attended church every Sunday and youth group every Wednesday. My mom even ran the youth group program for a few years.
In 8th grade, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I only mention this because it’s relevant.
Church sets off just about every trigger for me:
- Crowds of people
- Awkward small talk
- Dressing up
So I’ve never really enjoyed physically going to church. I cried a lot of Sunday mornings. Sometimes I still went, sometimes I stayed home.
Even when I did attend, I was usually distracted. I brought pens and paper to draw, play games, and generally distract myself.
From a young age, I remember questioning things I learned in church. This is probably pretty normal.
I also remember questioning a lot of what I learned.
You mean to tell me a dude got swallowed by a whale and survived?
There’s some bearded guy and his bearded son who know and control everything?
Once I was able to separate spirituality from organized religion (this was probably at some point in college), I began to understand that my issues were with organized religion. In the media and even around me, I watched things happen that just didn’t align.
You’re supposed to love thy neighbor, but not if they’re gay or from a different religion?
Priests are getting in trouble for molesting children when that’s against their beliefs in such an astonishing way?
I couldn’t wrap my head around the hypocrisy.
So once I was out on my own at college, religion became a non-issue. It wasn’t part of my life; I didn’t really think about it or talk about except when I attended Christmas and Easter services with my family.
My Relationship with Religion Now
My relationship with organized religion at this point in my life, a decade later, is as follows: I live across the street from a church (where I happen to vote) and I attend services with the family when we all go together, usually with Grandma.
Religion is not an important aspect in my life. It’s not something I’m avidly against, it’s just not really present in my world.
I do have a really solid understanding of the importance of religion, however. I know how impactful religion has been for those around me, and I’m so glad they have it as a pillar in their lives. I’ve watched belief in God get people through some pretty tough stuff. So I feel like I get it.
It’s just not for me.
Having said that, I do believe there’s something bigger out there. There’s something we as humans can’t even begin to understand, and I’m OK with that. I’m OK not knowing why things happen in this universe. I’m OK not knowing what happens after we die. And I’m OK walking through life just appreciating what’s around me without assigning a higher purpose.
I read this quote in a book in college, and it’s always stuck with me. I butcher it every time I try to paraphrase, but it pretty well explains where I stand.
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.
This is how I have lived my life. (And will continue to do so.)
I work to live a good life. And I’ve noticed that a lot of those tenets of how I define a good life come from things I learned at church:
- Be kind to one another
- Don’t judge (this one’s hard)
- Be a good Samaritan
- Be happy with what you have
- Don’t kill, lie, cheat, steal, etc.
So while religion isn’t a big part of my life, I’m comfortable and confident that I’m living a life to be proud of.
As I said, I’m walking into this project with an open mind. I’m not walking into it cynical. I’m walking into it with pure curiosity. What will I learn? How will I interpret things I was taught as a child? And I’m especially excited to come across the parts of the Bible that I don’t even know about yet.
I have no idea what this adventure will bring, but I know I’ll make the most of whatever it may be.
The Bible I’m Using
I searched my massive collection of books, including the ones in my basement from my childhood. I found 3 or 4 different Bibles I could use. Or, I obviously could have purchased one.
But I found one that was too perfect: the Bible I got from my church when I graduated high school.
It’s a New International Version (whatever that means). And, yes, it’s engraved in gold with my name.
I think it’s the most fitting Bible for this project, all things considered.
If you’re interested in following along as I tackle this project, go ahead and subscribe.
👇 If you have questions or comments about this project, pop ’em into the comments box below. 👇
I’m excited to get started, and I’ll see you tomorrow!