Dept. of Alternative Facts: Interpretation

interpretation: (n) an understanding of an event, situation, or text according to pre-existing assumptions

Growing up, I viewed the world (as small as mine probably was) according to our family’s, neighborhood’s, and church’s assumptions.  There was not much variance in how events could be understood.  When it came to scripture, there was only one truth for us to discover.  Then, in high school a friend from church made the comment “It’s subject to interpretation”.  Well, that concept has muddied the waters ever since.

Having spent my career talking with clients who come from many different backgrounds with many different life experiences from mine, I have become accustomed to setting aside my assumptions (even acknowledging that these ideas are assumptions) while listening for other peoples’ assumptions.  Maybe this is empathy.  Maybe this helps me understand why they drew the conclusions they espouse.

I believe that many of our political, cultural, and social conflicts occur when we do not accept that all sides come with assumptions.  We can hardly debate our conclusions, if we do not know what assumptions underly them.

The current wrangling over President Trump’s, the House of Representative Democratic and Republic members’ behaviors regarding the impeachment inquiries is little more than a conflict of assumptions.  To justify both sides’ views, I have heard various politicians quote scriptures, as if quoting something that could be “subject to interpretation” revealed any truth.

Representative M, Senators C. & M.

Driving to the Post Office Wednesday afternoon, I happen to hear some of the debate in the House of Representatives ahead of voting on whether to send the articles of impeachment of President Trump on to the Senate for trail.  While most of the comments fell upon the rhetoric that either party has put out recently, I was amused at the number of Biblical references espoused by both sides.

Thus, I shall put in my one-minute of debate and some Biblical references, from Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome, which I happen to be reading.  I will leave these for you to ponder, in this situation, and others that are bound to arise during your term(s) in office.

“You, therefore, have not excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Romans 2:1)

“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” (Roman 2:13)

“But, if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing wrath upon us? (I am using a human argument.)  Certainly not!   If that were so, how could God judge the world?  Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned a sinner?”  Why not say — as we are being slanderously reported as saying and some claim that we say — “Let us do evil that god may result”?  Their condemnation is deserved.” (Romans 3:5-8)

I yield the balance of time back.

When you read these passages, ask both what conclusions you draw from them and what assumptions influence how you read these.

About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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6 Responses to Dept. of Alternative Facts: Interpretation

  1. Lavinia Ross says:

    My father was fond of saying that even the Devil would quote scripture for his own use.

    • hermitsdoor says:

      I did not mention in my post, but I had come across a report (Washington Post, I believe) that the editor of Christianity Today wrote essentially what I did and asked why are Christians standing by President Trump. In a follow up bit, the paper reported that 2000 subscribers cancelled their subscriptions after this was published… and 5000 signed up. I remember reading Christianity Today when i was in high school. Merry Christmas to your farm and cats.

  2. cindy knoke says:

    “Then, in high school a friend from church made the comment “It’s subject to interpretation”.
    I liked the priest who told me when I said, “This all seems quite impossible,” that it was an allegory. Not meant to be taken literally, but more of example of how people who had faith expressed it over the millenia.
    Merry Christmas to you my friend.

    • hermitsdoor says:

      “Pious fairytales” I believe is the phrase that a Catholic friend told me. I cast of the shackles of literally interpreting the Bible years ago (though some sections do have details which I accept as relevant as historical information), in favor of a literary view of the meaning behind the stories. Moreover, the meaning that we continue to find in spiritual texts (from various faiths) are relevant because we continue to find guidance in them. Merry Christmas.

  3. Paulette says:

    “Rise and sin no more”

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