Sunday, February 02, 2014

Blood Religion

You know Lawrence Hill. He wrote the remarkable novel The Book of Negroes, an international bestseller. I have read other Hill fiction and have now delved into his volume of Massey Lectures entitled Blood: The Stuff of Life.

Hill admits to his lifelong obsession with blood, and begins with anecdotes of accidental blood-letting from his childhood. Blood keeps us alive and can betray us. Blood samples can warn us of disease and "out" us if we're cheating.

He also observes that "blood speaks to our deepest notions of truth and sanctity" Blood has been a powerful symbol in rituals of purification and in religions, including Judaism Christianity.

Many Christians have grown squeamish about blood, even though Jesus speaks of it at the Last Supper and it is unavoidable if we look to the cross. It seems scandalous in a time when we don't have to think too much about blood, even when we're meat-eaters. Someone, somewhere takes care of the blood-letting for us.

It's all worth pondering today when the scripture passage from 1 Corinthians addresses the scandal, the foolishness of the cross. Hey, if Lawrence Hill can deliver public lectures and publish a book about blood, can't we have the conversation within our congregations?

Have any of you taken a look at Hill's Blood? Are you okay with the cross and shed blood being such a central aspect of our Christian faith? How do we talk about it in a meaningful way?

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