I appreciate the thoughtful nature of these questions.
From outside Christianity it seems that yes, there is a theme of “god has done this for you… god has done that for you…” I was raised without any religion by the way so I’m an outsider to all of them. Christianity seems concerned with behavior – I have noticed that. For me this is not so much the kind of Christianity I am interested in – which is why I have to research and find courses like this to find a different presentation of Christianity.
I am trying on the bible in very small doses. My initial impression is noticing the challenge it presents to the Christian thinkers that I am drawn to and the vastly varying ways of interpreting passages – even among the same seeming umbrella of “emergent” or “progressive” Christians. I kind of wonder – what a lot of work these people are doing – they seem burdened with a difficult text. And I find it difficult myself. I certainly don’t – at the moment – pick up the bible and read it straight up and feel inspired . Once different authors I’m reading quote or discuss certain passages then I can go back and read those and feel a connection to them. When I read it myself I don’t understand the insistence on constantly elevating Jesus, and how he continually elevates himself. I don’t understand the personification of God as a human (particularly in the old testament) and the awful ways he behaves sometimes. I don’t understand the necessity to demand particular behavior around marriage, sexuality, place of women. I’m hoping that doing this course will help me connect more deeply with the bible. No, I don’t think it is an act of communication from God. I think it is testimony written by a Jewish and then Christian community which has become authoritative.
I think a lot about habits. I am happy to hear James talk about them. I am an educator and I agree about the vital importance of habits and the way that they are somewhat maligned in the way we think about thinking and learning. I also am happy to hear James name the importance of imitation as a way we form habits. I have a lot of bad habits right now, so its hard for me to think of ones that are beneficial….
Let’s see – I think that I have developed a beneficial habit of interest in other people and trust that they will not hurt me. I have a habit of smiling and making eye contact with people, and this physical gesture made me notice that it is connected with a general trust of other human beings, at least initially. This I think I copied from my parents who are generally positive and trusting people. I have a habit of pausing before I eat and giving thanks. This habit I consciously developed in myself but it was supported by being involved in a community that always said grace before eating. I have a habit of yielding to other people, which I’m not sure is always beneficial and this I learned from my parents as well, particularly my mother.
I think an act of communication from God could help me feel more solid in my relationship with God, it would help me identify the “channel” of communication that I can tune into to receive more.