Saturday, April 30, 2005

Teach it All or Not at All

Jane over at Firedoglake has a great post up on a movement to start use the Bible in teaching literature. Jane obviously has better credentials than I for discussing this but I have been raised in the south and know a little about religion and the effects the Bible has when it is introduced into polite society. Besides, I have been virtually silent for almost two weeks and this is one of my favorite subjects.
First and foremost, when talking about the Bible, especially when it is associated with Southern Baptist, Church of God, Assembly of God and all of the other offshoots of fundamentalist southern Christianity do not ever presume to allude to the fact that the Bible is not the absolute, unadulterated WORD OF GOD. Begin a discussion at any other point without a firm acceptance of this “absolute truth” and you are lost.
If you try an explain that while in many ways an excellent collection of ancient parables and stories it really didn’t just spring into existence from the mouth of God in 1611 A.D. when it was first published but actually was an often wildly inaccurate translation of Hebrew and Greek writing from 900 B.C to around 120 A.D. There is no manuscript of the Old Testament older that the 9th century B.C. We do know, however, that all of these writings were collected and declared Holy Scriptures by the Rabbinical Conclave in Palestine shortly before 100A.D. We also know that the Christian Bible was compiled by a Catholic Council in Carthage in about 300 A.D. That was when some of the controversial books like the Shepherd of Hermas and the glorious Gospel of Saint Thomas were left out. It’s a hoot to know that the Christian Bible is composed of Jewish writings that reject Jesus and Catholics who are reviled as the Scarlet Woman of Revelation.
So anyway, to get back to the point about the Bible used as literature and whether it is a good idea, I agree with Jane that if you teach it in its historical perspective and the puerile with the rest then maybe some good might come of it. I actually have no expectation that this will happen as this is just another method, like intelligent design, to get the Christian bias into the schools. No way will they ever teach the Bible straight up just like they won’t believe it is not the direct word of God.
It’s like this…the Bible is a collected work of ancient writing full of parables, allegory, myth, mysticism and just plain fiction that requires a working knowledge of mythology, linguistics, theology, history, philosophy and archaic language to interpret at all credibly. Probably someone like Jane’s father could be trusted to teach a course but I would doubt anyone with lesser background. Additionally, there should be prerequisite courses in comparative religion, philosophy eastern and western not to mention history. If you just turn over this dangerous book to a bunch of relatively ignorant and uneducated peasants to use their superstition, petty jealousies and greed to interpret and use as they see fit…guess what you’ve got American Fundamentalism. This is exactly what happened when you started mass printing Bibles. A lot of ignorant and uneducated people now had what everyone says is the “ultimate” authority with which to justify their basest desires and worst prejudices and that is exactly what is happening. If you haven’t noticed a lot of these people are horribly afraid that there are people out there who are having a better time than they are and that there are people who are not afraid of things that are new and different and who embrace life warts and all. They want everybody to be disgusted at their sexuality and afraid of life like they are and cower from they joy of life lived. If you had given the Bible to Taoists or Buddhists which are basically pacifist and tolerant you wouldn’t have nearly the problems we have today. The Bible is militaristic and chauvinistic when literally understood and is being used by these fanatics to justify a campaign, that doesn’t recognize compromise, to make it the only belief permitted in the world. The Bible is not an evil book but in the wrong hands it is horribly dangerous. You only have to look closely at Christianity today to understand the problem.
Read the following carefully and repeat it often when you get confused about Christianity. It is a key to understanding.

Christianity is a religion about Jesus not the religion of Jesus.


update: I meant peasants not pheasants. fixed it

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