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Frog dissection and preaching

Dissecting Frogs for scientific knowledge

In Highschool biology we got to dissect frogs in the interest of understanding what made them live. It was part of learning the “scientific approach” to understanding life. I can still picture the bullfrog my lab partner and I were dispensed, and can see it sprawled on the wax on the bottom of an aluminum tray. I remember the smells and sounds (a lot of them coming from queasy students). We had a process to follow. The frogs had already been rendered painless by our teacher somehow, I think it was by sticking a pin through their spinal chord or something. But the frog was living and breathing, and, I presumed, comfortably numb. We proceeded to follow the outlined steps, cutting skin away so we could see the muscles in the legs, then cutting the chest open in a particular way so we could identify the various organs… yes even the gender of our frog. Eventually, we got to clearing things away from the heart, putting a spreading mechanism in so we could see it there clearly, beating, beside the lungs which were breathing (our guide warned us not to puncture the lungs) , but in a frog that was ‘feeling no pain.’ Our final task was to remove the heart, to snip it out, and hold it and turn it so we could see the chambers and other important facets of it. And our frog now was dead, but we had studied closely all that had once made it live.

lego-frog-dissection1

I chose a ‘safe’ Lego frog dissection picture to spare you the gore. I usually use pictures I have taken myself, but this time I did not have one. So I use this with a nod of thanks to http://www.obviouswinner.com/obvwin/2010/11/1/poke-some-innards-lego-frog-dissection-is-hopping-awesome.html

Dissecting scripture for life knowledge?

For many years, European-rooted churches — churches that were reluctant about the dangerous things science was claiming — used a “scientific approach” to preparing to preach the life giving message from their scriptures. It’s pastors learned to dissect a passage to understand what made it live. They would identify a ‘pericope’ that was seen to be a study-able unit of it’s own, and begin to apply their clinical hermeneutic to it, identifying key important parts that made it ‘tick’ and they would keep digging around until they identified the ‘text’ that was the core of that pericope’s existence. Figuratively, they would then victoriously hold up that formerly beating heart of the passage and announce it was the main point. Meanwhile, there was no life left in the scripture. Too often also, their sermon describing the life-giving message was like a scientific paper as well. Lots of life being lost…

image of cut up bible

Have we maybe been ‘killing’ scripture in the belief that approaching it scientifically will help us gain life from it?

Because I love story or ‘narrative’ and know it’s power, and because I love life, in my preparing to preach it is my hope to not kill the message by cutting out it’s beating heart and showing the congregation a dead thing that once gave life, but I hope to share an xray — or better yet ultrasound — view of it that allows the frog to stay alive even as we have gained an understanding of what makes it live.

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