Some final thoughts:
1. I thought I would be too sick of the bible to post my full rant on why I believe Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom of God is wholly earthly, and I was right. If there's some kind of bewildering demand for it, I'll post.
2. I have now even less respect for the bible as a religous document, but considerably more for it as a historical document betraying its authors' humanity. It's not quite finally seeing the Magic Eye picture, but it's interesting to look inside something of which you spent your entire life encouraged to stay on the surface.
3. The author of John was drinkin' the Kool-Aid.
4. I never really thought about this before tripping over it on my way to the store today, but many of the same people who use obscure Jewish scripture to defend anti-gay prejudice are the same ones who actively or passively encourage Christian anti-semitism. Talk about making it say what you want it to say.
5. Karen Armstrong is fully correct to say that Americans, in general, have a juveline understanding of faith. Today I saw the front of Wednesday's USA Today, cover story about how replacing typcial locker room filth with clean music and the bible helped spur this season's turnaround for the Colorado Rockies. Per usual, if you want the baser understandings of mass culture, you need look no further than athletes. So there's your American depth of faith: swear words = bad, Jesus = good.
6. Yet, in some ways, I can deal. I wrote earlier how I didn't understand allegiance to one religion, when it's such a leap of legitimate reason. Well, after I thought about it, I guess it makes sense. After all, most Americans aren't like me, and don't take long walks to reason through the ultimate questions or the nature of the trinity. Tons of people, like my extended family, live by a kind of pragmatic faith, one better realized in quilts and iced tea than fiery sermons and theological rhetoric. If people are comfortable living that way, that's ok with me. Siddhartha couldn't stay with a strict belief system and be true to himself, but his friend could, and joined ranks with the Buddha's followers. My only problem is when these people try to duke it out over who's right based on an elementary understanding of a dusty old book that nobody completely understands.
Not even God.