Friday, July 6, 2007

Bend it Like the Simpsons

The new Simpsons film will utilize one of its stand-by targets: the Bible. Series creator Matt Groening showed clips to a London audience yesterday including one where Homer appears late to Church; when asked to explain he flips through the Bible and moans, "This book doesn't have any answers."

The religion of the Simpsons has been a primary concern of the show in its eighteen year run. From the good natured, zealous faith of the dweeby Flanders, to the random, droning sermons of Rev. Lovejoy, the show has had a hate/love relationship with the Bible.

Here are some Bible moments over the years:
  • Homer complains that the Bible is "preachy"
  • The family tunes into a local AM radio station to find that every one is talking about signs of evil
  • Marge tells Bart he needs to go to church to learn how to love his fellow man and then they listen to a sermon where the Aromites "pierced the eyes of their fellow man"
  • The First Church of Springfield marquee once reads "Evil Women in History from Jezebel to Janet Reno"
  • Homer tells Lisa "if the Bible has taught us nothing else--and it hasn't--it's that girls should stick to girls sports such as hot oil wrestling, foxy boxing and such and such."
  • The Myth of Creation Museum and "So You're calling God a Liar? An Unbiased Comparison of Evolution and Creationism"
  • A new Catholic Church commercial
  • A pregnant girl asks Bart to marry her because she is "religious like that" and Bart responds "how can you be religious if your pregnant?"
  • Ned Flanders cannot tell his sons how--if Cain and Abel were the only children of Adam and Eve--they were able to populate the earth.
  • Catholic Heaven v. Protestant Heaven
  • Ned reads a stoned Homer the Bible
  • Homer explains why he doesn't go to church
  • Homer correctly predicts the Rapture and goes up to Heaven where God tells him that he sent his son down and he hasn't been the same since (Jesus is twirling around a swing set looking depressed)
  • And my favorite: The Simpsons watch the film "Left Below"

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Notes from the Bible Bending Diaspora

SCOTLAND: Scottish youth need a little more Bible in their lives. At least that is the thoughts of Scotland Bible Society who have recently appointed a youth development minister. "Living with the iPod generation means the Bible is increasingly faced with the 'boring and irrelevant' label." Nothing new here. So what does it mean that the Scotsman is reporting this as news?

TEXAS: A Texas' court rejected the claim filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the People for the American Way that it is unconstitutional for a school district to offer a Bible class. The lawsuit is, as the Christian Post puts it: "on going."

AUSTRALIA: Paul Kelly reveals his appreciation for the Bible in his new album. As an atheist, Kelly utilizes the Bible as his artistic muse. "It's just always been a part of my diet, I guess. Little bits of Shakespeare tend to crop up a lot, too. If I only had two books, Shakespeare and the Bible would probably keep me pretty well occupied."

But despite enjoying the benefits of the Bible, Kelly will not read it to his children. He tells the Australian newspaper The Age, "[...] if you've gone back to read it as an adult, it's just full of . . . I mean, the Old Testament is appalling! The chosen people just slaughtered all the other tribes. (There's) Lot's daughters sleeping with him; there's Noah, drunk, lying naked on his bunk - there's another rhyme."

BULGARIA: Lottery fans who believe in the biblical significance of lucky number seven have caused the jackpot to rise. Only tomorrow will tell who is the luckiest of them all.

ENGLAND: The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Alliance (GALHA) responded to the Bishop of Carlisle's remarks that the recent floods in Britain are a response to pro-gay laws. Bishop Graham Dow commented last week that, “In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as 'the beast', which sets itself up to control people and their morals. Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want."

The GALHA chairman Jim Herrick had this insight: "People like Graham Dow [Bishop of Carlise] bring religion into even more disrepute with such fatuous comments. No wonder people are abandoning the Church of England in such huge numbers when it is led by silly people like him."

OREGON: A doctor published an article highlighting what he believes is evidence that the Bible condones marijuana for medicinal purposes. If I were to reduce this man's logic to an SAT analogy equation, it would look like this:
Kaneh bosum : biblical medicine :: marijuana : modern medicine
See? aren't you convinced?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Wrong by Association

Another variation of the "Dr. Laura Letter" appeared today, this time directed at Anglicans who refuse to accept homosexual persons into their congregations.

Here is more "X is wrong because X comes from source Y that also contains Z, and everyone knows Z is wrong":
"The Lord does indeed tell Moses that homosexual acts are wrong. He also warns the prophet not to mar the corners of his beard, not to round the corners of his head, not to have sex with a menstruating woman, not to wear a garment woven with two kinds of thread, not to have carnal relations with certain kinds of female slave, and so on.

Either you follow these instructions literally, or else you temper them with your own knowledge and understanding of life. You take large chunks of the Bible with a grain of salt, and you ignore other parts entirely. You opt for compassion instead of righteous vengeance. You don't pour scorn on love.

That had always – or so I hoped – been the Anglican way. I don't know many Anglicans who obey the Lord's command to hold lobsters in abomination."

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Naked Truth
Why stop at a bikini? when clothing is not very biblical--at least that is what the 53 year-old nudist Jim Cunningham argues in his book Nudism and Christianity. "Paradoxically, it's the Christians that oppose naturism the most -- next to the Muslims," says Cunningham, "and it's really their Bible that says so many wonderful things about the body." Incidentally, Cunningham is also blind.

(artwork from MotherPie Culture Art Life Media)
Tapping into the Wisdom of Bush
The "Dear Dr. Laura" letter has cropped up again--this time as a "Dear President Bush" letter. The famous letter that circulated across the country six years ago is a sardonic attack on those who use the Bible support their world view--posing questions on how other passages from the Bible may apply to modern life. Originally the letter was posted on the Internet addressed to the conservative and controversial radio host Dr. Laura Schlesinger and became so popular that in six months time it was featured in an episode of West Wing (you can read its full history here).

Today it is being circulated as an address to President Bush in response to his refusal to provide funds for stem cell research. After flattering Bush's mastery of biblical truths, the author asks questions such as: "A friend would like to sell his daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?" The authorship changes with every print (apparently there are many people out there anxious to point out the vagueness and ambiguity of the Bible) but I have never seen a response to any of the authors. If you have, send it my way.

A Flood is Never Just a Flood
Blame it on Noah. Ever since God wiped out humanity save for one family, he has turned into a serial flooder. There were debates about whether the 2004 tsunami was about God's wrath, an Alabama state senator declared that Hurricane Katrina was an effort to wipe out the New Orleans sins of gambling, and now not even mind-your-own-business England can escape divine retribution.

Rainfalls across Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the Midlands caused rivers to swell, submerging hundreds of homes in what the Bishop of Liverpool and the Bishop of Carlisle call an "act of God." The Daily News reports that they claimed "the devastation was the consequence of the West's decision to ignore Biblical teaching, with an 'arrogant' world 'reaping what we have sown'." Perhaps as a sign from humanity back to God--I mean, er, Hollywood--Evan Almighty, the modern-day Noah story, has been a box office flop. Too many people already know the story too well.