Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Good Book

I heard an interesting line in a movie last week that went something like this:  "For centuries, those persons have been considered educated and cultured who know Homer, Shakespeare, and the Bible."  To that, I must resoundingly add my "Amen."

Of course, as an English and Classical Studies major in college, it was easy for me to pick up Homer, as I learned how to read Greek through Homeric dialect and from parsing excerpts of the Odyssey.  And my course work in English always led me back to references to Shakespeare.  Later, I had a very focused education at Duke in the Bible . . . and pursued a great deal of my understanding of the Bible through the languages of Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic . . . course work I took by the gross back then inside the walls of that Gothic wonderland, but have long since forgotten in the hustle and bustle of Indiana.

Okay, so I'm educated.  But cultured?  Awww, shucks.  You'll have to ask my wife about that.  She claims I'm a bumpkin.  I still use a toothpick, say "ain't", and I have a proclivity for using salty expressions and double-entendre puns around the house. But those who know me best rather like my sense of mundane humor and get the fact that I'm not just telling a joke, I might be a joke.  My mother kicked me out of the house a long time ago.

I'm not sure anything I've ever read has made me educated in itself (and I sure ain't cultured).  But I do think that anyone who seeks to understand great literature, great movies, and the finer points of history can't understand even a fraction of these allusions if they don't know the Bible.  This is especially true for older works and for the wide sweeps of human existence.  Writers have always assumed their audience, at the very least, knew the Bible.

I still read the Bible every week.  I read for devotion, sure . . . but I also read to keep my sense of humor, to learn, to keep my sense of connection with the past, to explore depths of meaning in literature and movie, and to stay abreast of the contemporary allusions that one can find in the newspaper, in speeches, in books, and in conversation.  I read the Bible to help others.  I read the Bible for its own puns and humor and playful language.  I read the Bible to write better. I read for enjoyment.  I read for life.

Been looking for a good book?  Try the Bible.  You probably have a copy.  And if not, try looking in the nightstand at the hotel.  If you don't have a copy--take that one!  Really!  The Gideons would love for you to have it.

And if you don't know this about the Bible (or don't know the story of Gideon) can find the answers to these and other troubling conundrums in that very same book.  The Bible.

Crack it open.

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