The previous article on maka-Diyos says virtuousness can be approached as a science. Continuing from that, knowing God’s life, His human life that is, in order to follow His ways is another way of learning what virtuousness is from a faith perspective. This can also be approached as a science.
There’s a lecture series, New Testament History and Literature, taught by Professor Dale B. Martin that I especially like. I subscribe to Open Yale Courses (to help level up knowledge among the poor, Philippine Universities should have public programmes like this too), it’s what I usually listen to on long trips or on my down time at home. The introduction goes
This course approaches the New Testament not as scripture, or a piece of authoritative holy writing, but as a collection of historical documents. Therefore, students are urged to leave behind their pre-conceived notions of the New Testament and read it as if they had never heard of it before.
I recommend that approach too. The first time I read the Bible, Old and New, was when I was in high school. We don’t have a TV set, by choice, and I’d ran out of books to read. I can’t remember how long it took me to finish it but I remember that I absorbed the texts as if I was reading an especially lengthy novel or history book. From it, I appreciated and learned more about early world history than from school textbooks. Are Filipino Catholics aware that the “Bible is the foundational document for Western civilization”? that there are real worlds waiting to explored behind the written biblical texts? The second time I read the book, several years afterward, it was from a religious view. The advantage of this sequence is the reader is spared of fanaticism by the time he or she reads the book from a religious point of view.
Notably in the series’ introduction is a short, ten-item quiz on the students’ current knowledge of the Bible. It’s surprising that for all the religiosity of Filipino Catholics many are not aware of basic catechism (which often causes parish priests to go into apoplexies, like, what planet do you come from? Apes, Father? One doesn’t utter that aloud of course.).
How could one even start on the path toward maka-Diyos if one is unaware of the basic things about this Diyos (God)? Of course, there’s the case of knowing everything there is to know about Diyos (God) and yet there’s nothing virtuous in the person, but that’s another topic altogether, if not already the subject of previous articles here.