Monday, March 26, 2007

TIME Magazine: The cover story of this week's time is a piece entitled: "A case for Teaching the Bible." It covers such topics as "Is it constitutional?," "Why should I care?," and "Doesn't secular teaching about the Bible play into the hands of the religious right and the secular left?"

Dateline Alabama (AL): University of South Alabama administered Stephen Prothero's religious literacy test and found that Alabamians are more biblically literate than the rest of America.

Wilmington Morning Star (NC): Biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan shares nine things that people may not know about the life of Jesus such as: "The accounts of Jesus' infancy in Matthew and Luke are different because the writers had different intentions," "Disciples had actual visions of Jesus," and "Jesus' bodily resurrection was an allegory of the justice for all martyrs."

Church Executive Magazine (AZ): The producers of "As it Was" DVD series is launching a competition inviting youth groups to create reality-style TV programs that narrate the lives of biblical characters. The "Bible Is-Reel" competition will reward the makers of the film that introduces "historical figures in a creative way" with a ten day trip to Israel.

The American Spectator: Liberal evangelicals pursue a crusade against global warming at the expense of abandoning other evangelical issues such as family values and the sanctity of life. An expert: "They feel guilty about capitalism, and want other evangelicals to share in their guilt. Liberal evangelicals prefer not to talk about sexual sins. Carbon sins are a welcome substitute." Brian McLaren, one such "liberal evangelical," has reminded fellow evangelicals that the biblical heroes Joseph and Noah also shrewdly warned of cataclysmic climate change and although they were met with skepticism, the steps they took in preparation saved humanity.

The Washington Post (DC): The new book "The Gospel According to Judas" by best-selling author Jeffrey Archer and Vatican theologian Francis Maloney portrays Judas as the betrayed, rather than the betrayer. Though the account is fictional, the authors maintain that it is a theologically plausible explanation of why Christianity's most maligned personality did what he did. Last week the Vatican Pontificate Council held a lecture on the book in an effort to encourage others to "read the Bible carefully and intelligently." In a news conference Maloney said that he was inspired to write the account in response to the success of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" and Richard Dawkin's "God Delusion." "Are we to stand by silently to allow the Gospel message of Jesus of Nazareth to be trivialized by Brown and ridiculed by Dawkins?"

Barbados Advocate (BARBADOS): "It is time we develop a biblical view of sex. [...] Not only did God create man in His own image; but He invented and created sex. More than that, He created sex to be a very pleasurable and enjoyable exercise. It is through the sex act that we have been given the god-like ability to create another human being in our own likeness! Not only does God tolerate sex, He approves it!"

New York Times (NY): British anthropologist Mary Douglas explores the subtle patterns that "divide the world into the clean and the unclean, the permitted and the forbidden, the pure and the polluted, imposing their categories on the continuities of nature, creating order while disclosing it." Stories that do not seem to have order work like a ring: they have an introduction, followed by a climax and then reverse the story. Douglas pays special attention to the book of Numbers in which "the parallels established by the ring form assume important meanings that are crucial for understanding the biblical book’s preoccupation with the priesthood and authority."

The Christian Century: "Since how we read the Bible and even how we argue about it is shaped by its place in our own faith development, it would be good to take some time out from contentious debates about the Bible to reflect on our personal experience with the Bible."

The Free-Lance Star (VA): "[The Bible is] a
book teeming with contradictions, borrowed myths, and murder on a vast scale. Just open any book of the Bible, close your eyes, and point. Your finger is sure to fall on any one of these anomalies."

Daily Vidette
(IL): "[T]he Bible should be taught in high school English classrooms by high school English teachers along with works like "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Great Gatsby." Why? Because the Bible is perhaps the most fundamental religious text in American society, as well as one of the greatest stories ever written."

International Herald Tribune (FRANCE): The St. John's Bible, a handwritten and illustrated Bible crafted by master calligraphers, draws on modern images to emphasize the Bible's universality for all people of all ages. In Luke, for example, the parable of the prodigal son includes renderings of simple rectangular towers — which a reader would identify as the World Trade Center — representing the need for forgiveness and alternatives to revenge. The story of Adam and Eve features an African man and woman, whose likenesses were influenced by photographs of Ethiopian tribespeople; they are surrounded by designs taken from objects as varied as Peruvian feather capes and Middle Eastern textiles. In a depiction of the Pentecost, there is a gold column of fire, but also simple black outlines of spectators at an American college football game."

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