Wednesday, September 21, 2005

condensed milk and honey

100-minute Bible launched

I'm not sure what to think about this. The Bible (especially the King James version with its sonorous poetry) is - or used to be - part of our culture. OK, so I haven't read Leviticus or some of the obscurer prophets, and I skipped all the lists of who begat whom, but I have read most of the rest of it, and even though I am a Pagan, I still think it is part of our culture. It inspired loads of art and music, the legal system is based on it, and so on. Apparently a huge percentage of young people have no idea what happened at Easter. Actually I remember when I was at school, there was a Jewish girl in my class, and neither she nor the rest of the class had any idea what was the main doctrinal difference between Judaism and Christianity. (I did.)

I think people should be aware of the beliefs of the world's religions, at least in outline. Hmm, must get around to reading the Koran and the Guru Granth Sahib etc. I have read the Tao Te Ching (highly recommended). I suppose the 100-minute Bible will give people an idea of what Christianity is about, but it removes the poetry and the diversity of styles found in the original - which, whatever you think of the content, is a great work of English literature. And more credit should be given to William Tyndale's version, as much of the text of the King James Version is based on it. And look at all the everyday phrases people use which come from the Bible - "land of milk and honey", "the meek shall inherit the earth" and so on. AS Byatt wrote a short story about this, bemoaning the loss of these phrases from our speech. The one I particularly remember her quoting was "Here is the butter in a lordly dish" - apparently from the story of Jael, who killed her husband with a tent-spike (after bringing him the butter in a lordly dish). There's also a painting of Jael in the Russell-Cotes Museum in Bournemouth.

I also wish people were more aware of what Paganisms are about, especially the philosophical aspects. It makes my brain hurt sometimes having conversations about theology with people who just don't get my worldview. I encountered a refreshing change recently on a train, in the person of a Muslim chap, who was very well-informed. However, we ended up talking about Islam and how it is widely misinterpreted - but then that is always a hot topic.

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