As my penance for neglecting this site last week, here is a quick up-date of what the Bible is up to these days:
Why the need to report on violent uses of the Bible?
The Melbourne Herald Sun (AUSTRALIA) reports that the man convicted of raping a Muslim woman as punishment for reading the Bible will lodge an appeal against his jail term today, based on new evidence from a witness who was named but never called to testify at his trial. Florida newspapers report that a prison inmate tried to pound a pen into his left eye using a Bible as a hammer. Then there is a man in Tennessee who set several small fires in his hotel room using pages from the Bible. Is the irony too irresistible for a journalist to pass up?
The Bible and Society: An International Debate
In a letter to the editor, a man from Jamaica argues that the Bible is a poor moral muse. If Jamaica were to draw moral values from the Bible, then they would need to support genocide, slavery, and the suppression of women. The letter writer concludes, "What Jamaica needs at this time itself up from the moral abyss into which it has been led is not more religion or the appointment of religious persons to important governmental office. Rather, it needs to provide quality education for its citizens, particularly the young, to enable them to unshackle themselves from primitive superstition and mental slavery--to think, to question and to investigate instead. It is the proper use of our minds that will put us above lower animals."
Other countries are debating how much the Bible should and should not be a part of their society. I have already reported on Hong Kong's debate over whether or not the Bible should be classified as offensive. The government of Burma, a predominately Buddhist country, has restricted Bible imports to 2,000 a year. Some newspapers in Poland insert passages from the Bible into their publications. In the US, a writer for the Mens Daily News argues that the US child support policy is not biblical while another writer hopes the US Congress adopt an immigration policy based on the Bible.
Bible Speak: The Endless Comic Material of the Bible
From Sarah Silverman's "Jesus is Magic" to Monty Python's "Life of Brian," the Bible is a comedian's most valuable muse.
"Evan Almighty," the "contemporized" Noah's Ark story starring comedian Steve Carell, opens in theaters this Friday. Director Tom Shadyac prefers that the film be referred to not as a comedy but as a "Bible parable." Watch a trail here; it promises to be a "film of biblical proportions."
Also seizing the opportunity to mine a comic goldmine like the Bible, Jewish comedian David Steinberg has written a novel about his life--in the style of the Bible. "There is something in 'Bible speak'," observes one book review, "— that vague, generalized cadence where so much is left unsaid — that has set many imaginations on fire."
I think the comedians may be on to something about our Bible curiosity when they play around with its material. Trying to believe the impossible and apply the vague and unrelated to our everyday lives says something about the intensity of our desire for a coherent, mutually agreed upon order to our lives. We are struck by the prisoner and the hotel patron who misappropriated the Bible because it reminds us of just how prevalent the Bible is--it was the only thing readily available to them. No wonder so many societies try to articulate themselves using the language of the Bible. But, just as the image of Steve Carell building a giant ship in the middle of Manhattan strikes us as ridiculous, we have to ask: can't we do better?