Exegetical Self-Profiles, Part II
This is part of a short series that I introduced last week. Below I answer the following questions as part my own exegetical self-profile reflecting on who I am and the impact that has on my interpretation of scripture:
What is your family background ethnically, socially, and economically?
What was your first exposure to the Bible as you remember it, and in what context?
Is there a defining experience or event that has influenced the way you read scripture?
How does your ethnic background and culture inform the way(s) you interpret scripture? What has been your most meaningful experience of cultural diversity?
Does your gender inform the way you interpret scripture? If so, how?
How do your political views inform your biblical interpretation?
What do you consider to be the most pressing social or ethical issue today? Is scripture relevant to it?
What personal values direct your attention towards scripture? Relatedly, what is your working theology as you read and interpret biblical texts?
If you are interested in answering these questions for yourself and sharing them with the congregation, please feel free to send it to me and I can include it in my writing for next week.
The I named Phillip Kroh was born into a WASP-y middle class family in March of 1992. I say WASP-y because the ethnic makeup is more European mutt than specifically Anglo-Saxon. It may be more accurate to say that I was born into American white culture which is often privileged to be shown as a standard or ideal way of life in the US. I would describe my perception of my parents as ‘just because’ Christians. Religion did not play a large overt role at home beyond prayer at the start of meals with the grandparents and regular church attendance was more out of a ‘because it’s what right-acting people do’ instead of out of a more pervasive devotion.
I was raised in the United Methodist Church with regular, usually weekly attendance through childhood despite identifying as an atheist for much of my teenage years where I attended the small-group, discussion based youth services and activities primarily to escape the passive, uninteractive worship services that I did not particularly care for. There is certainly a strong influence on my beliefs from this upbringing, though I do not have a specific memory of when I was exposed to the Bible. However, it is less formative of what I believe but instead created often unhelpful associations with what I expect lifelong self-identified Christians to believe.
My ethnic, cultural, gender, and political identities and backgrounds certainly influence the way I view scripture which is one of the reasons why I prefer, in the ideal, to hold onto my interpretations and perceptions of scripture as loosely as possible so that I can always be prepared to reconsider when presented with another option. The influence of gender on my lens for perceiving Creation and scripture is the one I have thus far explored the least of these four as I believe that theological truths, assuming they exist, are agender in their truest nature. Nevertheless, this does not mean that my hopeful perceptions of them are not influenced by my gender identity any less than my other identities. Looking specifically at political beliefs, being gay and wanting equal rights never really gave me political choices in the US. My politics are certainly intertwined with my ethics which are intertwined with my theology.
The skepticism I try to keep at the forefront of my theological pursuits is peeking through as I write this, a skepticism that I point first at myself before then also considering my knowledge claims. Because of this, I am hesitant to name any social or ethical issue in the present day as ‘most pressing’ as I would assert that problem definition and framing that seeks to justify community and/or institutional action is always fraught with subjectivity inherent in the limits of experience and the human brain. However, that does not mean that I don’t have beliefs about problems, just that I understand those beliefs in a looser manner than might be typical with a desire to try to not place moral imperatives on anyone or anything other than myself (as an ideal that I often fall short of).