The NBSC Vision Team is beyond excited to present to you the plans for our – now February – annual conference. Our 2 ½-day event holds the promise of four exciting keynote addresses by Dr Randy Richards, worship and song, workshops for all levels on a variety of topics, a story theatre by seasoned tellers, our traditional Epic Telling – this year a selection from the Acts of the Apostles – and our featured story concert with singer-songwriter Brian Moyer-Suderman.
“Biblical Telling: A New Way Home” will be an exploration of the ways in which the culture we grow up in can lead us to make assumptions about the meaning of the texts we read and tell. Uncovering these assumptions and values is a way of knowing ourselves better, respecting the biblical witness more fully, and becoming more sensitive to those of cultures different from our own.
The values and assumptions that go without being said in any culture are the ones that can hold the most power. So it is with the world of the Bible. By understanding the cultures of our scriptures, we can better hear what they were saying to the original hearers – and thus what they are saying to us now.
“There are about nine differences between western and non-western cultures that we should be aware of when we interpret the Bible,” Dr Randy begins. Some of these differences are “above the surface,” like Race and Ethnicity, and Language. Some are “just below the surface” like the way we see ourselves in community: Individualism vs Collectivism, and the way we experience and describe Time. Some are “deep below the surface,” like Rules and Relationships, Virtue and Vice.
With his many years of living in Indonesia and teaching internationally, Dr Randy (now Research Professor of New Testament at Palm Beach Atlantic University) has a fascination with the richness of our global cultural diversity – and the challenges it can present in our mutual understanding. He has brought this sensitivity to his exploration of the cultures out of which the bible was composed – to encourage us to go home by a different way.
“It is very hard to know what goes without being said in another culture. But often we are not even aware of what goes without being said in our own culture. This is why misunderstanding and misinterpretation happen. Thinking critically about why you assume what you assume can make you sensitive, over time, to the cultural mores you bring to the biblical text. Before we can be confident we are reading the Bible accurately, we need to understand what assumptions and values we project onto the Bible: those things that go without being said and that make us assume that some interpretations are self-evident and others are impossible.”
Our keynote addresses will be presented with a telling by a master teller, among whom are Rev Bev Brazier, United Church pastor from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory (and one of last year’s excellent keynote speakers), and Dr Sandhya Ruban Hobday, a pastor and master biblical teller from India. They will interact with our presenter for the last portion of each address for a rich discussion.
If you rise in the morning asking yourself: “How does biblical telling make any difference in God’s world?”, this festival has answers for you. A relief to those who wonder if religion divides more than it unites, a joy for those who yearn for a faith that is open to deep study, a refreshment for those wishing to bring all parts of themself to their life and work, and a community – a new home – with some of the most interesting people you will ever meet: the Festival of Biblical Telling 2023.