While looking into books to expand my study of The Gospel of Mark, I came across the following little gem from Julie Smith, Bible scholar and author of Search, Ponder, and Pray: A Guide to the Gospels. In a question and answer dialogue regarding her book she was asked:
Q: Does a “Mormon reading” of the New Testament exist? What are the shortcomings of how we read—and how we teach—the New Testament?
A: Let me tell you a story: when my youngest son was about two, he’d normally come and get me as soon as he woke up (“Open your eyes! Talk to me!”), but one day, he didn’t. I awoke well after him and found him in the kitchen; he hadn’t noticed I was there so I watched him for a few minutes. He’d somehow managed to open a new box of raisin bran. He would dump a mound of it on the table, pick out the raisins and eat them, and then use his little arm to brush all of the flakes onto the floor. And then he’d do it again. I think that’s sometimes how we read the scriptures: picking out the familiar, easy bits and making a mess of the rest! As a result, our lessons can often have a rote and wooden feel to them. I can’t tell you how much this saddens me—because there are immense treasures of fascinating ideas in the scriptures and we sometimes don’t recognize it! (Source)
What a great analogy, scripture raisins. Sweet, tasty, and healthy. But, . . . I generally don’t like raisins and especially not when eaten alone.
At the risk of belaboring the obvious and extending the metaphor too far, I will endeavor to expand this to a full demonstration of my ineptitude.
Raisins alone are judiciously packaged in small boxes. Bran alone is too “healthy” to be palatable to most people. The context of raisins (in bran cereal and scriptures) makes the bulk of the content almost edible.
Excessive focus on scripture raisins leaves us with a shallow knowledge that lacks credible depth and often cannot be applied to our life experience. Hopefully, our scriptural palate can mature beyond a craving for raisins and we can learn to appreciate the full, messy, and complicated context of the scriptures for a healthy perspective.