Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In support of "The Year of the Bible"

As some of you may have noticed, the blogosphere was ablaze with liberal rage (and conservative zeal?) last week as Paul Broun, a House Republican from San Francisco, proposed a Congressional resolution that would make 2010 "The Year of the Bible." (Just kidding. He's from Georgia ... but did I catch anyone?) The full text can be found here.

As any number of critics argue, this seems a lot like government sponsorship of Judeo-Christian traditions--and hence a clear breach of church/state separation. And as others point out, though Broun may be flying in the face of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, he's also late to the game. Ronald Reagan already proclaimed his own "Year of the Bible" ... in 1983.

But in the tradition of Job's Satan--and taking a brief break from my regular format--let me play devil's advocate for a moment, get up on my soapbox, and throw myself firmly behind Broun's resolution. But if we're going to do it, let's do it right. Let's make 2010 "The Year of the Whole Bible."

Because--and I'm definitely speculating here--I bet when Broun speaks of "the Bible," he's talking about John 3:16 and the nice passages where Jesus has little toddlers sit on his knee. He's probably speaking of the Bible in which God is love and belief delivers salvation. I also bet he means the Christian Bible--complete with "New" and "Old" Testaments--and not the Hebrew Bible, which ends enigmatically with 2 Chronicles and never gets on the Jesus train.

So, if I'm going to support Broun's resolution--and I'm close!--I'm going to need him to abandon this abridged, altered Bible and support wide readership of the whole damn thing, lock, stock, and two smoking barrels. And I'm going to need him to recognize what kinds of unexpected things he's ushering onto the Congressional record:

Like the moment in Genesis (ch. 34) when God seemingly blesses the third patriarch, Jacob, for slaughtering an innocent village under the holy sign of circumcision.

Or the passages in the Pentateuch--and in Paul's letters, for that matter--regulating the ownership of slaves.

Or the section of 1 Samuel (ch. 28) in which King Saul (successfully!) hires a witch to raise his old friend Samuel from the dead.

Or the other parts of 1 and 2 Samuel in which the son of Saul, Jonathan, strips down before the beloved King David and kisses him on the mouth. Then, the opening chapter of 2 Samuel when the same David calls Jonathan's love "passing [better than] the love of women."

And the Song of Songs, in which God is never mentioned, but sex is ... a lot.

And Ecclesiastes, in which the Teacher argues that everything is futile, including the pursuit of wisdom and, perhaps, the worship of God.

And Job, in which our hero--the most righteous man on earth--gets so angry at God's sins that he begs to take the deity to court.

And the Mark gospel's Jesus who not only speaks of God's love, but exorcises demons ... lots of demons.

And the passages in 1 Corinthians 11 in which Paul argues that women should be veiled, as they are in conservative Islam.

And the book of James, in which the author confirms that both faith and works are necessary to salvation.

I'll also need Broun's resolution to recommend that Americans read all the boring parts of the Bible I bet he's skipped. Like the description of the tabernacle in Exodus. And all of Leviticus. And every verse of Proverbs. And each of the Pauline and pseudo-Pauline letters. And all the weird letters not by Paul.

I'll also expect that Broun's resolution will allow--and even encourage--all American Jews to stop reading after the "Old Testament" ... and argue that the Christian New Testament is not even part of the Bible.

So what do you say, Congressman Broun? Are you up for that kind of "Year"? If so, I'm your biggest supporter. Paul Broun in 2010!

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