Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Before I get to today's post, I want to apologize for my prolonged absence from the blogosphere. I am in the midst of a cross-continental move, and therefore have been so busy putting off packing that I neglected WTFWJD? and it's loyal readers. I should also note that the next month or so will likely be pretty sparse in terms of posts, but I promise not to ignore you for three weeks again. That's just lame.

Anyway, on to this awesome video:

Bored of trying to convert heathens with flawed logic and scare tactics, blowing up abortion clinics, and judging the living and the dead, it seems that some Christians have moved on to attacking the NIV Bible. I find this to be more disturbing than the other kinds behavior I just mentioned, because it displays a progression of intolerance from "the Bible is 100% factually correct about everything" to "only certain versions of the Bible are 100% correct about everything, and the rest are blasphemous." This is cause for concern.

The Bible is a collection of books written over a vast period of time in several different languages, none of which exist in the same form today. As such, it is impossible to translate into English in a way that is both completely accurate and readable. I don't envy any translator faced with that task. That said, I like the NIV (obviously, as it's the translation I use here. Don't tell the Catholics), because it is a decent combination of accurate translation and English readability. Any inaccuracies, which every translation will undoubtedly have, are the product of human fallibility, not active aggression toward the original text.

This presents yet another reason why strict adherence to Scripture is not a practical way of realizing one's faith. The Scripture is now and has always been, regardless of what some might think, pretty malleable. It has been changed and added to over the years in ways that far outstrip any minor inaccuracies a particular translation may have. Believing that it is the literal word of God means believing that the literal word of God has changed significantly, even since the first couple hundred years of Christianity.

One wonders, then, what is particularly Christian about throwing a Bible into a barbecue when there are hungry people who need feeding, sick people who need healing, and violence that needs to be stopped.

Matthew 25:34-40 says:
Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
The message of that passage, in every translation of the Bible, is essentially the same. Perhaps it would be wise for those who spend their time bickering over semantics to remember that. WTFWJD?


Jim said...

Amen. And good luck with packing.

Okay, I can't resist a few packing tips. Use sheets and towels whenever you can instead of newspaper for packing. Things arrive cleaner and those sheets and towels have to move anyway.

Ziplock bags can be your best friend. Use them for sorting anything and everything. When it comes to the kitchen, they contain a lot of things (like spices) when in transit.

Lazy end of packing trick: Open drawer, open box. Turn drawer over into box. Seal box. New location - open drawer, open box. Turn box over into drawer. Everything is back on the level it was before.

Pseudonym said...

Just for the record, there's nothing new about attacking the NIV. This stuff is, I think, from Gail Riplinger's 1993 book, New Age Bible Versions, but it's been going on long before that; at least as far back as the Revised Version.

Jocelyn said...

Jim - thanks for the tips. I am downsizing as well as moving, though, so I have the added task of deciding what I don't need. This is particularly difficult with my sizable book collection.

Pseudonym - I've heard that, but I still think it's stupid. The NASB takes more liberties.

Self said...

I've been reading Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians lately - he has an entire chapter addressing fundamentalism.

One of the "aha!" moments for me was a discussion of studies on Christian fundamentalists and their attitude to "the" Bible (specifically, the Bible version they perceive as being the perfect, unadulterated, complete Truth of God).

Unsurprisingly, he found very few had even read 1/3 of the books in their entirety.
What was surprising was that when he presented them with the four Gospel accounts of one incident (for example, discovery of the empty tomb of Jesus), and specifically pointed out differences, contradictions or inconsistencies, a fundamentalist would typically respond by saying there weren't any.

He states:
"Ultimately the true believers were saying, “I believe so strongly that the Bible
is perfect that there’s nothing, not even the Bible itself, that can change my mind.”"
(emphasis his)

I find this fascinating.

I had a similar experience when discussing evolution with a friend of mine, who simply couldn't get past the idea that the teachings of the Bible weren't inconsistent with those of evolution.

He stated, "I believe what the Bible says."
When I pressed him for which one of the many versions was right, he said, "My one - the one I have at home."

He couldn't give me a reason why, he "just knew".

That these people can't extend the feelings their own faith gives them to the feelings that simply must be the same for those of other faiths (or even slightly different denominations) is pretty damn scary.

That they can ignore such empathy to the point of burning another's holy book - when they themselves would be hurt and outraged if the same happened to them - shorts a connection in my brain. I just can't understand it.

Pseudonym said...

Riplinger attacks the NASB with just as much vehemence as the NIV, the NKJV or, indeed, pretty much anything but the KJV.

And yes, it's stupid.

Ksagstetter said...

Just for the record, I read ancient Greek and Latin. One of the translations they got their panties in a knot over was that the NIV translated Lucifer as the morning star, and they implied that Jesus is the morning star. The literal translation of "lucifer" is lux + ferro, or "light-bearer", which is Latin for--wait for it--MORNING STAR. Lucifer IS the fucking morning star, you ignorant asshats. Remember that whole, "Lucifer, the MORNING STAR, fell from heaven" thing in Isaiah 14:12? This shit scares the crap out of me.

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