Q & R: Sweaty palms, joyful tears, and the Bible

Here’s the Q:

I have been following you on Facebook and I’ve been reading your newest book, “A New Kind of Christianity,” which has brought me to joyful tears throughout. After re-reading Chapter 19, I was wondering if you could suggest some Bible studies that are outside of the Greco-Roman narrative? I grew up in the Greco-Roman Christianity of the 80’s and 90’s. After getting married and moving to a new state, we tried to find a new church home which was a disaster. For the last 12 years I have been questioning and fighting and giving up and taking back my faith and last year I started considering church again.
What I have not yet done again is pick up my Bible. The Bible, when read from the Greco-Roman point of view, is scary. I think about reading the Bible and my hands get sweaty and my heart races and so of course, I skip it. I feel like a Pavlovian dog. When reading Borg, McColman, Newell and now your books, I cherish the parts that are like mini-bible studies because that’s pretty much all I’m getting unless I’m following the liturgy on Sunday mornings (on the mornings I attend, which are few as I am very slowly getting reacquainted with churchgoing.) I just don’t know how to approach it again in a healthy way and I know guidance would be helpful in the way of a workbook or study guide. However, I don’t know who to trust so I thought I might ask you.
I know you’re extremely busy and I appreciate that you take the time to answer your reader’s questions – those that applaud and those that question (sometimes harshly) with such grace.

Reply after the jump:

Here’s the R:
Thanks for your kind words about the book. I think your honesty will help a lot of folks understand what their friends, children, parents, and acquaintances are going through in relation to the Bible.
Thanks also for appreciating the Bible readings in the book. I think the Bible can be as exciting and challenging as it has been scary and depressing – if we read it in a larger “3-D” narrative framework.
It’s ironic: the Bible is a book that says God is on the side of slaves, not empire-builders. It’s a book written by “the small people” (to quote BP), not the powerful – and it’s written for the meek, not the dominant. But lo and behold, we found a way to reinterpret the whole thing as if it’s pro-empire, anti-poor, anti-environment, pro-violence, and so on. As you say, it’s way easier to find commentaries or sermons that present an imperial/priestly/social-control reading of the Bible than a counter-imperial, prophetic, social-transformation reading.
Here are some suggestions on books that present readings of the Bible from the older/newer perspective …
Alan Boesak’s “Comfort and Protest”
Rob Bell and Don Golden’s “Jesus Wants to Save Christians”
Anything by Walter Brueggemann
William Herzog’s “Parables as Subversive Speech”
Anything by Ched Myers
Walsh and Keesmaat’s “Colossians Remixed”
That’s a start … there are many more.
Also – my series of podcasts on the Bible might be helpful.