Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fun with Deuterocanonical Works

I know what you're thinking--"Donna, how can deuterocanonical--or apocryphal--texts be great fun for us all?"

We've been studying them in our adult ed class (held at Andy's church--see how it all just comes around). We've been reading and remarking on a book called Lost Scriptures--Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament. The last text we're looking at is called The Didache. It's a text from (probably) the very early first century, filled with teachings (that's what didache means, for the non-Greeky folks among us). If you want to read it, go here:

The teachings run the gamut, pulled mainly from canonical--or Bible--sources. Most of the teachings are divided into the two sections which discuss "the path of life" and "the path of death."

I rather like The Didache, because it pulls together a lot of the best teachings of Christ and of his early church. The part that really hit me, though, on this morning after the State of the Union address, is the first description of "the path of death." I actually made a sound (heard only by my dogs, fortunately), when I read this: "It is filled with persecutors of the good...who turn their backs on the needy, oppress the afflicted, and support the wealthy."

This is, of course, just good old Jesus didache. But it sure seems to indict a lot of our public officials, especially those with most of the power in the state and nation in which I live. Last night I heard the president talk about how well we're doing as a nation. Then he outlined some new "initiatives." But both the "progress" we're making and the directions in which we're heading seem to me to be in direct violation of the great Jesus didache I'm reading this morning.

One quick example: health savings accounts, which Mr. Bush touted last night. These are a really great idea for healthy people with money. Last time I checked, those weren't the folks who most desperately needed health care. With a health savings account, you'll spend less on insurance, as long as you don't need it. If you do need it, you'll pay a whopper of a deduction, and woe to you if what you've got is chronic or requires hospitalization. I'm not sure how this is helping out the folks who really need help. The experts agree that it won't help stem health care costs.

So, okay, these realizations aren't exactly the dictionary definition of "fun." In fact, the oppression of the needy and afflicted, for the express purpose of supporting the wealthy, is anything but fun (at least for the former group--the latter are doing quite nicely, thank you very much).

But loving Jesus is fun. And taking his "moral values" into our hearts and our lives is fun, even when it causes us to do without so that others might do with. I'm thrilled to be part of a very fun congregation that gets all of this, and doesn't mind me nattering on about it. In fact, some of them natter right along.

The Jesus didache will win in the end. I hope we'll all have fun getting there. There's a lot of work to do, but that can be fun too.

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