By and large, history is written and retold by those in power.
The winners get to set the story in place.
There are, of course, alternative histories and other stories of how things happened, written and retold by those not in power, but they must be sought out and discovered; they exist somewhere beneath the national saga.
When reading the Bible, it’s good to know going in that we’re reading something that comes to us, not from the top, but from the bottom. The wealth of its literature was born out of the poverty of its writers’ defeats and wanderings.
The Bible was written by those who lost.
This is why America’s relationship with the Bible is so strange.
We are a nation of power, of victory, of advancement, and of success.
We read the Bible through those ideals.
We read the Bible through those very words, even.
When white, American men lead churches, the risk of theological and pastoral interpretation from a place of privilege is very real.
But the Bible descends before it rises.
The first sentence on the first page of the first book of the Bible has us entering the story through a dire, not a peaceful, unworried scene. We call it the creation story, but it appears to be more about a re-creation, a story of God taking what’s broken and out of sorts, and moving things forward to a place of peace and rest.
Genesis 1 is the Bible in miniature.
It’s a looping story.
Where there is nothingness, where there is fear, where there is brokenness, God is there. God is among those who have been torn, pressed down, abandoned, and disheartened. God walks into the wreckage of what used to be – or what never was – and he builds (and rebuilds).
Go ahead. Read the whole thing. You’ll hit that storyline a hundred times.
God is a descending God.
When we read the Bible, we are going down with God.
Before it rises, the Bible descends.