Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bible Fight

Adult Swim, the Cartoon Network for adults, has introduced a new game called "Bible Fight."

The game opens with the words: "(Holy music) In the beginning, there was a contest of strength amongst the most prominent figures in scripture to determine the mightiest. The tale of this great rivalry was thought lost forever. Until now."

Players can choose to fight as: Eve (who can throw apples, use a serpent as a whip, or summon Adam from the mud), Noah (who will unleash the Dove of Brutality, a flash flood and a stampede), Moses (who will throw the Ten Commandments in your face, summon up God's version of a telephone, or throw down a hail of frogs), Mary (be prepared to chuck halos and rosaries and watch out for the "Immaculate Deception"), Satan (with his pitchfork fire ball, tail whip and ability to turn into a three-headed dog), and Jesus (keep an eye out for his crown of thorns, cross smashing, and rain of loaves and fishes).

A commentator from the Post Chronicle, clearly offended by the game, urges readers to:
"Ask yourselves this question: Would this be acceptable in Islam? Could anyone make a cartoon of the angel Gabrielle engaging in a bloody battle with the 'Prophet' Muhammad? It's time to take a stand for Christians, whether you believe their scripture or not. Cartoon Network needs to hear the public speak - and clearly."

First, it is not clear what is gained or implied by the recent trend of some Christians calling for communal outrage by comparing themselves to Islam. Second, what exactly does the Cartoon Network need to hear?

Where does the Bible belong: Texas schools? California schools? North Carolina courts? Florida airports? and where did the Bibles in England go?

Wilmington Morning Star (NC): In a challenge to North Carolina's current state policy, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that if the courts will allow religious text to be used when taking oaths, they must allow all religious text. Currently, NC allows witnesses to take oath in three ways: "by laying a hand over 'the Holy Scriptures,' by saying 'so help me God' without the use of a religious book, or by an affirmation using no religious symbols."

The case was brought forward by a woman who was denied the use of the Quran in court. "If the state is going to get into the religious oath business, the state has to be fair," said Seth Cohen, the ACLU's lead counsel on the case.

Amarillo (TX):
The Texas state legislature approved a bill that would give public schools the option of including a Bible class using State Board of Education approved curriculum. The bill is a watered-down version of Rep. Warren Chisum's original proposal, which called for mandatory Bible classes.

Orange County Register
A proposal to introduce a Bible course to Huntington Beach (CA) died due to lack of support.

Eight ancient Bibles have been stolen from churches in Hampshire, according to police. One of the Bible's is considered "rare and distinctive" because it has "The Parable of the Vinegar" printed on it rather than "The Parable of the Vineyard."

(FL): Fort Lauderdale airport officials announced that the worker who repeatedly recited Leviticus 20:13 over the airport intercom last week is fired. The worker said it was a prank and apologized to the couple who brought the incident to the media's attention. But the openly gay couple, who were startled to hear "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, they should be put to death.," said it sounded more like a death threat than a prank.

Prince: Rising Bible Bending star

CNN: The Artist Formerly Known as Prince announced today that after completing 21 concerts in London, he will take some time off to study the Bible. Revealing serious Bible bending potential, the U.S. pop sensation, known for such 1980s classics as "Purple Rain" and "Kiss," says that now he is inspired by "prophets from the Bible."

Perhaps Prince's fans can look forward to hearing some Bible bending tunes in the future. Should he (prudently) solicit the help of the BibleBending Watchdog, look for titles along the lines of "Baby, I am a Dreamer," "Proud Esther," and "When Doves Fly (and come back with signs of land)."

Read This Shopping Bag

New York Times (NY): An article on the thriving U.S. retail chain Forever 21, pointed out that each of the yellow shopping bags are stamped with John 3:16. The quick fashion chain's owners Don and Jin Chang wanted to incoporate their faith into their success.

Forever21 is not the only chain to employ John 3:16. In-N-Out (a hamburger chain), Alaska Airlines (which places a Bible card on every meal tray), and Bess Eaton (an East coast coffee and donut shop) are all Bible benders.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bible Digging

The Guardian (UK): Israeli archaeologists announced the discovery of the tomb of the biblical King Herod. Ehud Netzer, an archaeologist working on the site since the 1970s, said that although there were no bones found in the newly discovered sarcophagus, its "location and ornate appearance indicate it is Herod's."

Monday, May 7, 2007

Bible Bending on the campaign trail, in the EU, relationship advice and more:

The Trumpet (OK): The U.S. and the European Union have signed a new transatlantic economic partnership. According to The Trumpet, this is the beginning of the end:
"Believe it or not, the coming together of America and Germany is an event prophesied in your Bible—as is the outcome of this illicit relationship. Based on these prophecies, the real question is not whether Germany can rely on America, but whether America can trust Germany. The Bible says beware."

CNS News (VA): Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential
candidate, invokes the story of Cain and Abel to argue that evil has and will always be a threat.

Daily News Journal
(TN): State law makers in Tennessee are discussing whether or not to provide public funds to build the proposed "Bible Park USA" that is expected to bring a wave of tourism to the Shelbyville area.

Chicago Tribune
(IL): Michelle Hammond has found her niche in the advice industry with her "Diva Principle"--an outlook that draws inspiration from the lives of women from the Bible. Jonathan Briggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that Hammond's approach appeals to "thousands of Christian women struggling with the nuances of dating and marriage." But what Christian woman would not be overwhelmed by the biblical demands of marriage?

Jamaica Observer (JAMAICA): In Jamaica, even though the colonists who introduced the Bible "used it to enslave us even as they raped, ravaged and ran roughshod over our African ancestors and heritage," the laws should be based on biblical morality. For this reason, steps must be taken to teach children that homosexuality is an "abomination," prevent the sexual trafficking of children, and reverse the behaviors that lead children to murder.

WorldNetDaily (OR): A review of the book "Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self Defense" by Charl van Wyk which makes "the biblical, Christian case for individuals to arm themselves, and be prepared to provide a defense for the innocent."

BBC (UK): Dutch creationist Johan Huibers has completed a half-size replica of Noah's ark as testament to his literal belief in the Bible.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Bible Bending Marketplace

The Bible is king, in the marketplace of ideas and the marketplace of merchandise. In addition to enjoying a great deal of attention in social and political discourses, the Bible also boasts a venerable share of the economic market.

Publishers are finding new and creative ways to maintain the Bible's hegemony in the book market. The variety Bibles cropping up in the marketplace succeed because they have cornered new ways of packaging an old story.

B&H Publishers, for example, has a Bible for teachers, ministers, person's of poor eye sight (and really poor eye sight), graduates, brides, firefighters, and the police. The Sportsman Bible has non-reflective paper that "won't scare game" while the
Golfer’s Bible features photos of golf courses and meditations by golf tour chaplains. And though B&H has a Bible for every branch of the U.S. military, The Outdoor Bible, a waterproof New Testament whose books fold like maps for easy packing, is the current favorite among U.S. troops. (The Gospel of Luke can be used as a rain shelter.)

As impressive as B&H's list is, it has a long way to catch up with Zondervan, a Bible publishing giant. Zondervan makes Bibles in all shapes, sizes, and colors--from a Backpack Bible for kids to a fury-covered picture book for preschoolers.

But what is most striking about Bible publishers such as Zondervan and B&H, is that they tailor the Bible to fit the perceived spiritual needs of narrowly defined readers. Bibles like Faithirlz!, which is designed for every girl who "wants to know she’s totally unique and special", perpetuate the idea that the Bible can fill any emotional hole.

Perhaps it is this idea--that the Bible is for all people at all times--that propels another booming sector of the Bible industry: translations.

Organizations such as Wycliffe Associates and the Bible League support efforts to translate the Bible into hundreds of the world's most recondite languages. Since many of these languages have no written form, the translating process can take decades to complete.

The BBC reported today that the Bible has now been translated into an Australian Aboriginal language. Soon natives of New Ireland and Papua New Guinea will also have their own translation and initiatives to
show the deaf the gospel are being put into effect around the world.
As the Bible makes its way around the world, its words and meanings bend to carve a niche in an increasing variety of cultural imaginations. Peter Carroll, one of the translators in the Australian Aboriginal project, explains the particular kind of Bible Bending inherent in translations:

"The Gunwinggu people use a different part of the body to express emotions, and they have a word that is, broadly translated 'insides'," he said. "So to love God with all your heart was to want God with all your insides, and it was that use of the word 'insides', not the word 'heart', that established the right connection with emotions and made the translations effective."

For now, a word choice like "insides" rather than "heart" is innocuous. After all, every Bible contains its own set of linguistic choices. But it represents a new cultural twist to the Bible, one that fits the Australian Aboriginal culture. What they do with that twist, culturally and politically, may not be so innocuous.

Either way, it is all good news for the Bible Bending Watchdog: more Bibles equal more Bible Bending.