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Bible Symbolism - by Pat Campbell

When I was in my 20s, I was in hospital having one of my babies and a catholic priest was doing his rounds. He asked me if I wanted to talk. I said I was not a catholic and in fact I was not a believer at all. He promised that he wouldn't try to convert me so I agreed to talk with him.

He asked me what my objection to religion was and I said it was mainly the bible - that it wasn't possible for someone to live 900 years or be swallowed by a whale etc etc. And he said that the bible should not be taken so literally, that it was symbolic and one had to look below the surface to find the wisdom.

One example he gave me (I can't remember the others) was the story of Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt. He said that did not mean that she really did turn into salt. He explained that salt was symbolic for bitterness (or tears) and Sodom and Gomorrah were symbolic of our past / earlier years (when we may have done a lot of stupid things through ignorance). And the lesson was that one should not look back on their life with regret because they will become bitter by doing so.

He said the whole bible was like that, hidden messages where you have to seek to find the wisdom! Well having no interest in God or religion at that time, I didn't really think about that conversation again for about 25 years or so until I had become a believer. And then his words popped into my head. So I did study the bible for a while until I got busy with other things and I discovered some underlying meanings myself. Although it doesn't play a big part in my life, I do think it can be a useful tool if used correctly.

Unfortunately, the bible is so often used as a method of control. Not so much in recent years, but in the past, religious leaders wanted to instil a fear of God into their members. So they preached the "fire and brimstone" way to scare people into obedience.

Maybe they were egotists who were power hungry, maybe they liked having people dependent on them or maybe they just wanted to collect more tithings. Who knows? But the fact is that they did it and many were subjected to this as a child and possibly during adult years as well. I thank God that I had minimal exposure to religion as a child (just a bit of Sunday school as a young child mainly for the social aspects). And so I didn't have to spend lots of time and energy sloughing off the fear and guilt like so many people I know have done. Fortunately many more ministers are now talking about God's love instead and teaching that we are all one.