Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Bible Says What??

For an amusing look at what can happen when we literalize and overpersonalize Biblical passages, I recommend the site All True Bible Stories for Children. Numerous old testament stories have been used by the author to illustrates what nonsense and absurdity we create for ourselves at times with the Bible. The work was based on conversations the author had with a woman who was raised to interpret the word of God in highly idiosyncratic ways. For those of you who have been raised in a tradition which interprets the Bible fairly literally, you may find a dim reflection of your own past in these parodies. Here is but one example:

The Story of the Tower in Babel
Genesis 11:1-9
Over his morning newspaper, Beth's father complained about the Mexicans. He talked about how they were taking jobs away from decent Americans and ruining the economy by attracting American manufacturing firms. Beth was confused by all this. "Mother," she asked as they cleared the breakfast dishes, "shouldn't we try to cooperate with people in foreign lands instead of competing with them?"
"That is a good question, little one," her mother said. "And God has prepared an answer." And this is the story she told:

One day, many, many years ago, everyone on earth spoke the same language. Everyone was walking together when they found a big, empty field in a place called Shinar and decided to live there. The people had a big discussion and decided that they would burn some bricks and glue them together with slime until they had built a city. Then they planned to build a tower which would be so tall that the top of it would reach heaven. After that was all done, they decided to name themselves so that all the people of the world would be part of the same group.
Well, God came down from heaven to see the city and the tower being built. And God said, "Look, everyone is cooperating with each other and they can all understand each other. Now nothing will stop them from doing whatever they can imagine doing." So he decided to mix up their language and stop them from living all in the same place so that they would not be able to complete the city and the tower.
From that time on, the city was called Babel, because that's where God ruined the one world language.

"God does not mean us to get along with foreigners," said Beth's mother. "If he did, then he would not have taken the one world language away and stopped us from all living near each other."
Beth thought about this for a moment. "I guess that means that I won't have to take Spanish in high school!" she said. Then she smiled and hugged her mother. All her questions had been answered.

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