Monday, March 28, 2011

Faith, Story-telling and Folk proverbs

When I go to church there is story-telling: Biblical and personal story-telling. I like the idea of going to church on Saturdays or Sundays to hear stories. Stories help to give me inspiration and the mindset and mechanisms with which to cope with and adjust to my world with all its chaos, disorder, oppression and injustice.

I like seeing the Bible as a collection of stories from the past as well as stories about the future. As a collection of stories from the past it details the lives, struggles and challenges of real people in different times, with different resources and opportunities available to them but with struggles and challenges that are common to all human beings. I love to use their own histories and stories for interpretations of the challenges and struggles in my own life.

I love to use the scriptures as a looking glass and viewing lens through which to observe my present reality and get new perspective. I love to use the scriptures to interpret what's happening around me. I do not believe figuratively in the Bible, but I genuinely believe that people experienced G-d and miracles in the way that is reported. Thus the scriptures and the stories in them give me comfort in that there is order in the chaos and that things are not out of control, but that G-d is in control and directing all events to the final destination and end of history.

On March 27, 2011, I recorded a saying, a Jamaican proverb from the preacher at Mona Baptist Church at the 7AM service. The preacher, who happened to be Courtney Stewart, stated "when trouble tek yuh, pickney shut fit yuh" (Translation: 'when you are in trouble, a child's clothing will fit'). There is wisdom in this proverb for the agnostic and even for the atheist. In my interpretation of the proverb, when calamities strike, what may be considered foolish or childish may become your only hope. The same Bible and G-d that people may consider to be a figment of humanity's imagination may become the only source of comfort, encouragement and hope in a difficult time.

On another matter, I am just awakening to the fact that folklore interacts with religious faiths, even in the church. Preachers in order to bring across their message to their audience sometimes draw on proverbial sayings that they know their audience understands and perhaps also agree or even believe in. These proverbs perhaps serve as a codifying system for storing collective wisdom in a nugget for people to organise, classify, assimilate and even retrieve for practical application.

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