Cherry Picking

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There’s a whole lot of cherry-picking going on, so that, for example, if the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination it’s ok to make a big moralistic deal about that, but when it says that anyone who wears clothing made of two different types of cloth must be put to death, well, we don’t pay that one much mind.

cherry picking

On the other hand, this is really only an issue when (and I know this is usually the case) the stories in scriptures (regardless of the tradition) are taken on a superficial/literal/historical/moralist level.


I say this from the following stance: A few years ago I finished a book on the Hebrew Bible. When it was finished, it was well over 1000 pages, and the reason for its unwieldy length is that I went story by story through the entire text and did not let anything go by unaddressed. Now, my approach is symbolic, I don’t really care about the claims of history, morality, or irrational miracles. By symbolic I mean, for example, that when “God comes to kill Moses” in Exodus it’s a symbol for something in the soul having to ‘die’ to be ‘reborn’; when animals are sacrificed in the Tabernacle, it’s a symbol for the need to ‘sacrifice’ our own lower animalistic compulsions; when “enemies are slaughtered in the name of God”, it’s a symbol of the internal work we all must do to “slaughter” our own negativity, hatred, and anger (these are our real ‘enemies’, not other people); etc. Prior to publishing, the book was edited and edited, hundreds of pages taken out to make it accessible and readable (and no doubt a better piece of work), but I do sometimes hear “Yeah, but what about this statement, what about that one?” You can’t win! The book (Symbols, Meaning, and the Symbolic Quest) now includes, on the other hand, a [relatively brief] discussion of the Gospels and the Qur’an as well, showing how all such scripture, when read symbolically, tells the same story of the soul’s journey to awakening.


As Sri Ramakrishna once said, “No matter which path you take it will usher you, in the end, into God’s presence! Since religions are but means of finding God, why quarrel about their respective merits and defects? That will get you nowhere!”