We're only into our second week of my first Beth Moore study and I'm already chafing. My heavily hand annotated workbook is running out of margin space. I've crossed out and reworded whole passages. I've been tempted to call the author some not very nice names for her treatment of Scripture.
This frustration is partly my own fault. I chose to do this study because of the women, not the material. I kind of knew what I was getting myself into; Beth Moore is sort of a household word in Christian circles.
My ideal Bible study would:
1) Be contextual
2) Offer plenty of space for interacting with and discussing the text
3) Encourage actual study and engagement with the issue at hand, rather than mindless repetition
This study doesn't fit the criteria. I'm frustrated every time I pick up the book and wiggle in my seat during the video presentation. The fill-in-the-blank and check box question format almost doesn't require any study of the text. The check boxes, in particular, are so jarringly obvious that she might as well just offer one option and spare us her attempts at being clever. Even so, it's not only the format that drives me nuts. I could deal with the shouting and the elementary workbook if the content was solid.
I take offense at her pot-shot humor that places husbands as the butt of many jokes, whether in the video or in the text. (Ex. "Have you noticed, oddly enough, that spirituality seems to be taxed by husbands and children?") That kind of accepted disrespect is popular in women's circles, but acceptance doesn't make it right. The smug tone and gooshy uber-feminine Christianese, the proof-texting and the assumption that the Bible is a teacher's guide, complete with color-coded answer key are just some of the things that drive me to my mad scribbles all over the page. Beth's "answers" rest on a visible belief that questioning is non-productive, that God's "word" as reinterpreted through creative verse picking-and-choosing will bring us to right belief and right action. She assumes that her readers will swallow her words whole and spit them out, beautifully regurgitated. Questioners are left on the sidelines, whether they're non-Christians or just non-Mooreified Christians, wondering if because we're not living an "Exclamation Mark! Lifestyle!" there's something wrong with our relationship with the Lord.
It might seem spiritual to jump all over the Bible, yanking verses from their context and pressing them into service for a predetermined aim, but it doesn't do us any favors and doesn't do justice to the text. And it leads to misinformed, speculative comments that lead us down emotional and silly rabbit trails. If we're going to speculate, we need to be fully immersed in a passage, IN CONTEXT within the Bible, and IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT. Worse, such "study" effectively limits our ability to truly grow and be challenged in our assumptions, especially for those already in the faith. Without discussion, without conversation, without questioning, there is no dynamic, living relationship with God.
I could go on and on, but I'm saving it. Fixing Beth's study isn't my problem. There are things I can learn, even if I have to shuffle out 90% of what she's writing and saying. But...can anyone recommend a Bible study for me to use in my recovery in about 8 weeks? Doesn't even have to be a study, maybe even just a book.
Speaking of books, this book received a nice write-up on Slacktivist. I'm tempted to have it sent to the mothers so we can read it together when they come down at the end of the month...maybe studying a book of the Bible contextually, especially one as beset by poor interpretations and wacky theology as Revelations has been, will be good for my soul.