Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Faithful, The Damned, and The Hip.

Are you stumped about what to get that idiosyncratic relative for the holidays? Do you know someone who has everything, and therefore leaves you puzzling over an appropriate gift every year? Maybe you should consider the spirit of the season and buy a bible. Sure, it's likely that everyone who wants one already has his/her needs covered. But how about the folks who have never seen the need? Remember, this famous book isn't just about personal faith, but also about lifestyle, politics, and history. You wouldn't be the first person in America to believe that the Bible is irrelevant, only to find that it snuck up behind you and bit your ass. Its words lurk in some truly odd places, including courthouses throughout the Deep South.

Why should you be the one person taken by surprise when the holy word rears its awesome head? Perhaps you've tried and cannot find any personal connection to it. After all, it was ostensibly written a couple thousand years ago (more or less). Who's to say that it isn't completely outdated? It could be that you've already tried to read it, and got stuck in that infamous early section where it starts tracing the lineage from Adam and Eve. That's understandable. Only a fanatic would be compelled to keep scanning those lines. In today's world, it seems that we only have time to devote to pursuits that directly affect us, or we're simply looking for mindless escapism. What's a truth seeker to do?

Fortunately for us modern sophisticates, others have anticipated our difficulty relating to the Old and New Testaments. King James got the ball rolling for many a contemporary reader, and other sects have since published their own versions. I've heard that you can even find an edition written in inner city slang. And why not? In this day and age you have to consider marketing demographics. Take for instance The Green Bible. After a hard day pounding metal chips into trees in our great forests, or ripping apart those plastic rings that hold together our six packs of Pabst, some among us may feel the need for some spiritual sustenance. But we want it in our language. Thus the need for an environmentally aware scripture.

The folks responsible for The Green Bible put it quite succinctly- "With over 1,000 references to the earth in the Bible, compared to 490 references to heaven and 530 references to love, the Bible carries a powerful message for the earth." After all, it is a numbers game, isn't it? This effort is dedicated to facilitating the growing "creation care" segment of evangelicals. Its editors have taken the helpful measure of highlighting (in green) the passages that may tie into environmentalism. While it may seem like an invitation to strange bedfellows, I'm happy to see publishers branch out. Anymore, one need not be a pagan to care about the biosystem. If you're not going to turn to science, what other options do you have?

And then there's Dag Söderberg, "project leader" for the glossy Swedish periodical, “Bible Illuminated, Gamla Testament: The Book.” He's created a magazine, aimed at the masses who are more likely to flip through a monthly left lying open on the coffee table. Söderberg and company have "sexed up" the Bible, breaking it up into easily-digested parts, and placing provocative images throughout. Luckily for those of us who are constrained to the English language, there are plans for a translation. There's even going to be a sequel... the New Testament is due to come out soon as well. Who says hipsters can't get down with the Holy Spirit? The Bible is not just for hypocritical fundamentalists anymore!

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