What is your first experience with the Bible?

When I write a book, it comes after years of experience, research, and writing in a particular area. I wrote a novel set in Uganda where I lived seven years and listened for hours on end to stories of ordinary and extraordinary Ugandans. I wrote a book on a doctor in Honduras after interviewing and conferring with more than one hundred people.

I’m researching for an upcoming book and I need your help to understand the wide range of experience people have with the Bible.

My experience with the Bible began in the 1970s when I was given my first King James Version Bible by my parents, Terrel and Charlotte Taylor. In the featured image of this post is the title page where my Mom wrote, “[Presented to] Gregory Taylor [by] Dad and Mom: We love you and pray that you will always want to study God’s Word and follow what it says. May God bless you. November 6, 1975. 

While I heard Old Testament stories from Bible class teachers as examples of faith, that two thirds of my first Bible seems untouched, unread. I read and marked New Testament passages about belief and baptism. For those first few years of my experience with the Bible, I wanted to believe and be baptized so I could go to heaven when I died and not go to hell.

To say that I read the Bible with confusion and fear would be an understatement. Anselm’s motto, “Faith seeking understanding” is a good description of my search for God as an eight year old. My early experiences were also marked with what felt like failure. We were given reading plans and encouraged to read the whole Bible. I never did, and tripped up weeks into any plan, growing bored, confused, and feeling like I was missing something.

One last and important thing: As Adam and Eve had a competing desire and sinned, so also in those early years I was introduced to a competing desire and sinned. I was living the early Bible story already and didn’t realize it. Television images, girls, and a magazine that my neighbor, aptly named Adam, pulled us breathlessly into the woods to show my brother and me competed with the words of God for my imagination. Doubts would come later, and I’ll write more about doubt and this competing for my imagination in my book.

What is your first experience with the Bible? I’m looking for brief responses about your first experience with the Bible, and I may contact you for an interview by phone about your other experiences. You are welcome to respond on comments below, or send email to gregtaylormail@gmail.com. Answer the question, “What was my first experience with the Bible?” as deeply and honestly as you can.

Thank you, and I look forward to your responses!

Greg

Between the Ditches of Manifestos and Non-Sense

Ditch. Neatly cut ditch

Image via Wikipedia

Blogs fall into the ditches of either trying to write Manifestos or blithering over non-sense and slathering opinion about everything from politics to sports to fashion. I’ve tried over the years not to fall into these ditches. Granted, I write about a variety of things, and I try to keep this blog filled with original writing not just copied or quoted stuff, but I’m attempting to keep it to my experience.

Let me give an example. When I was a missionary in Uganda, we missionaries would often observe the nation we lived in and ask why the government didn’t just do this or that. We probably felt we had some answers, but the fact is we weren’t in position to really solve national problems. We had enough trouble just helping a small band of Christ-followers in a handful of churches to move forward.

In the same way, the blog I write ought to be about things I am experiencing, whether in my personal, family, work, reading, recreation, or prayer life. So I’ll try to spare you long manifestos about how to solve problems in your organization or non-sense about my favorite foods. What I try to offer here is something of a life that can inspire you to reflect on your own and how to be more human, more like Jesus, more of the person God is making you to be.

High Places: a novel set in 1920s Africa

High Places: a novel
How to order the book

Read Chapter 1

About High Places
If Tenwa could make it across the Nile River he might be saved, but he could never return to his home village.

The missionary told him burning his tribe’s religious shrine would please God. But now the tribal leaders–even his own father–want Tenwa dead. Following the missionaries brought this trouble–what good was saving his soul if it cost him his life?

As the Germans and British battle for the continent, British missionaries William and Jessica Bell struggle to survive in 1920s East Africa. Could the ones they came to redeem be their salvation?

Two cultures collide and embrace in this love story and coming of age struggle for life’s high places.

How to order the book