Reading the Bible via Micro or Macro

Our church is currently undertaking 90 days through the New Testament.  The translation we are using is the Common English Bible, a new translation.

As the church has taken this on, I have been asked what "I think of the CEB translation."

Not ever sure ever how to answer this question, it is clear to me that there seems to be two major tribes of people who read the Bible.  The "Micros" and the "Macros".

The Micros are those who dissect the Bible in such a way that they look at phrases and words that are in the Bible and compare and contrast them to the phrases and words in other translations (or even source material).  Seminaries are great at teaching Micros.  The Western worldview is really big on this sort of thing.  We dissect things and try to reduce, categorize, and understand each little thing.  I was trained in this way of thinking and value it greatly.

Reading the Bible as Micro leads to Bible drills and trivia contests that people raised in the Baptist tradition are well aware of.  Reading the Bible in the style of Micro is helpful and educational.

The problem I have discovered in my own life is Micro reading of the Bible is informational but has not been formational.  Formational reading of the Bible in my life has come by way of the Macro.

Macro reading of the Bible is one that takes the large picture of the Bible.  You may not know the back story of Job but you know the Story of Job.  Macros read the Bible like one would read poetry - cadence and rhythm and flow matter.  Macros love the King James Bible because it is beautiful.  Funerals will have the 23rd Psalm read and it is always the King James Version.  The individual words do not matter as much as the flow and overall feel of the reading.

Much like in school, we judge people on their Micro skills when it comes to "knowing the Bible".  You "know the Bible" when you are able to recall the answers to the questions (sound likes a test to me).  The UMC is in a frantic that people don't "know the Bible".  So we teach the Bible.  We teach by way of Micro.

It is a fallacy to think that giving people more information will change behavior.  Just look at smokers or drinkers who are addicts.  More information does not change behavior.

Micro reading of the Bible will get you better at drills, but it rarely transforms your life.

If you are looking to read the Bible, we may start with a Micro lens, but Christianity is about teaching our Micro-selves to embrace our Macro-selves.

Being blind as a bat...

There is an axiom when describing someone's poor eyesight we call them "blind as a bat".  I have never needed glasses or contacts and so becoming blind as a bat is something I never have experienced.

While bats cannot 'see' very well, bats can hear very well.  They are able to listen to the world around them in such a way that it directs them to food, steers them from danger, and guides them back home.

It was posted the other day on Inward/Outward blog the following:
Silence is God's first language; everything else is just a poor translation.
If only I were blind as a bat and could listen to the silent language of God.  

National Day of Listening

For the past few years I have been participating in the National Day of Listening (I mentioned this last year on this blog).  This is a wonderful time for my family to get in a recorded form some stories about our lives so that they may be preserved for family down the road.  While most of our conversations at this point are not as reflective or deep as those compiled in the book Listening is an Act of Love (which is excellent by the way), they are conversations I cherish.

So if you have just a bit of time this Thanksgiving holiday, and you are like me and tired of making crafts, watching football, overeating and participating in some sort of group exercise in order to justify the overeating, then join many others and listen to the stories of your loved ones.

National Day of Listening with my parents

StoryCorps. of NPR is encouraging Americans on the day after Thanksgiving to sit with a loved one and record a conversation. You can check it out at if you are interested.

I interviewed my mother and father on Thanksgiving Day each for about 50 minutes. I asked the basic, "where did you come from and grow up" questions. Some of the answers I knew but most I did not. My parents and I do not talk all that much about their past and so it was interesting to hear all about what they had to say. We set up a video camera and filmed each session. It was great. I hope to catalogue these conversations each year and put them into a digital format in the years to come so that my children will have stories of grandparents straight from them.

I highly recommend anyone and everyone to take time this season and listen to their stories. But be careful, you may just realize as I did that no one is a self-made person and chance and luck effect life more than I know. For instance my son would not be alive without the good fortune of my fathers name being drawn out of a hat when he was 20 years old (that's a good story...)