Rethinking the Bible with Jack Pelham is an audio podcast that has grown out of many years’ worth of blogging and online discussion. While people may generally be reading more than ever, it seems that they’re reading serious and formally-written material less than ever. And when they do, it also seems they’re doing worse and worse in each decade at correctly surmising the “tone” of the writer. Hence, this podcast: my attempt to be as accommodating to the modern market as possible without sacrificing the import of the material.
In particular, I think that the need of the hour is for Christians to “level-up” on using their minds as they consider scripture. Having studied cognitive science for several years–and particularly, errors of rationality–I see wide opportunities to help people think through the Bible better. Unvetted assumptions and cognitive biases abound in Christian readers–and even in so very many of the teachers.
Meanwhile, the various modules of “mindware” necessary to interpret the Bible correctly in sustainable fashion, are not generally mastered by the society at large. Popular levels of skill and knowledge in logic, probability, linguistics, literature, genre, and figures of speech tend to run low in our culture–yet the Bible is generally written at a higher level–making it less likely than ever that the reader will walk away with the same ideas of the text that the reader brought to the writing table all those centuries ago. The fact of the matter is that it’s very easy to be wrong about the Bible today.
Hence, the need to rethink the Bible–to have another go at it–to take a more careful look. And this need is nothing new, for there have always been those who needed to look more closely–just as the author of Hebrews said to his general Jewish audience nearly 2,000 years ago now:
Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (ESV)
I think that in our present time, more of this “drifting away” from the texts has happened than ever before. There are likely many reasons for this in play, but the result is that it’s extremely hard to find any camp that is consistent and reliable in interpreting the Bible in a Reality-Based Thinking sort of way. That is, with honest, rationality, and responsibility applied consistently throughout the texts. Don’t get me wrong: many get many things right in the Bible, but who is consistent in their judgments, such as the same good judgment gets used on all their Bible conclusions?
Well, that’s pretty rare, and that’s my aim here: to do my honest best to get everything just right, so as to encourage others to adopt a higher-than-usual standard of care in their own Bible work, too. There’s no way I’ll cover the whole Bible here in this podcast. Indeed, I do not yet understand it all myself. For this reason, I have little interest in opening up a Q&A anytime soon, for it’s just not hard to ask me a question about which I know little or nothing.
Even so, I hope I have something to offer you–something different and fresh and useful.
Jack’s Other Projects
This video podcast series hasn’t yet grown beyond its 3-part introductory episode, but even so, it serves as an excellent primer on my philosophy: Reality-Based Thinking. Altogether, the first three episodes take about 90 minutes to watch. I chose a video format because of how graphics make it easier to understand some of the concepts. I make pick up this project again someday in standard audio podcast format, leaving these first three episodes as “Start here!” material. Anyone listening to the Rethinking the Bible podcast should definitely watch this introduction as it’s crucial to understanding the paradigms of the Bible podcast.
THE EXTRAORDINARY VISIT OF BENJAMIN TRUE: The State of the Union as no one else would tell it.
I self-published a rare political fantasy novel in 2017. In it, an angel interrupts the American State of the Union Address and gives his own take on how things are. Suddenly, all the standard excuses and spins no longer work, and he has a captive audience who desperately need to hear the truth about their own ways.
Throughout the story, I introduce my own philosophy of Reality-Based Thinking in narrative fashion, woven throughout the various conversations and arguments. If you love this country, and you think that justice and honor and decency are supposed to be part of the political life, then this book is for you–unless you’re one of those who think that the sins of the “other” party compromise most everything that’s in need of fixing in America. Be prepared to hear it like it is!
This free online book (which is soon to be turned into an audio recording) takes a long look at the American character of today, across from the kind of character that Americans founders assumed it would take to make the new country a success. It makes use of about 200 quotations from early Americans, particularly regarding civic diligence and the like.
This volume will soon undergo a final edit and will be recorded into an audiobook.
BIBLE INVESTIGATION. A website of (mostly) short Bible-related articles.
Bibleinvestigation.com has been my scratchpad for the last several years for Bible topics of general interest. It really needs a good editing week, as I continue to learn better and better, and as surely, there is something I have got wrong there, and have since forgotten about.