Saturday, June 6, 2009

the bible as a magazine

The Book: The Bible Illuminated

This is basically the new testament (there's an old testament one too) in a glossy magazine format. Pictures of celebrities (Angelina Jolie, Mohammad Ali, etc) are used to illustrate biblical principles, because a survey in Sweden found that many people believe these celebrities have done good things for mankind.

So, this could be good because it's good to be forced out of your box once in a while when it comes to the bible. It's easy to memorize a verse with a certain tone and read it that exact same way over and over again without ever seeing how it can be reapplied to your life. And it's good to be culturally relevant. Obviously, Jesus was a big fan of that.

But celebrities? As chosen by some random survey?

I feel a little compelled to buy it so I can read the thing and figure out how I feel about it.

It seems like it would be marketed toward a very specific demographic. A demographic that generally responds passionately to vaguely superficial (they feel superficial to me anyway) overtones of cultural relevance but that passion tends to fall away quickly (leading to my feeling that it's all a bit superficial). People may be sincerely trying to reach out, but they do NOT take the time to understand the people to whom they are reaching, and that leaves a disconnect that doesn't help anybody.

The longer I ponder this, the more I'm on the 'in favor' side of indifference, but not by much. And interesting idea, and one that may connect with a few people, but that is unlikely to have a real or significant impact on society. Then again, that's a very lofty standard. But when we're talking about the Bible, shouldn't the goals be lofty?

I get the impression the guy who came up with this idea might be doing this only for money, but I'm ok with that. As long as the words of the book aren't changed, I don't think the motivation of the publishers can have near the impact on this text as they might on another. That could just be naive of me, but it's hard for me to imagine the motivation of an individual overriding the intention of God. Then again, I see people using scriptures to hurt others all the time. (stupid politics) So, maybe I was wrong, maybe his motivations are important. I have no real evidence for my random impression of what he may or may not be trying to do, and I'll admit that a cultural difference often impedes the ability to divine the intentions of another. So, I hope I'm wrong.

I heard of this on The Colbert Report, which I love. I'm always entertained there, and that's what the show is meant to be: entertainment. (anyone who watches Comedy Central looking for objective news reporting is an idiot. This includes Bill O'Reilly.) I'd like to see a 'real' interview with this guy, to learn more about him and about what he was trying to do with this book.

I think I'm going to end up buying it. It's almost too strange not to have it.

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