The Curmudgeon


Friday, July 03, 2009

And Was the Holy Lamb of God On England's Pleasant Pastures More or Less Important?

A national survey of Biblical literacy has found that, despite three-quarters of respondents owning a copy and despite the traditional British affection for sex and violence, most of us are as ignorant of the Bible as we are of anything else that might have a whiff of history, literature, mythology, poetry, culture or other kind of foreignness about it. Despite thirty years of Thatcherite government, a majority of respondents did not know the parable of the Good Samaritan; perhaps even more surprisingly, a similar majority did not know the story of Joseph and his brothers, despite the best efforts of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Perhaps the reputation of these stories can be salvaged once Dan Brown or a wannabe has constructed a suitable plot around them.

A Methodist preacher, the Reverend Brian Brown, said that he was "startled by the lack of knowledge and understanding among people questioned, despite a third of them saying that the Bible was important to them"; which shows that the Reverend Brian Brown has a good deal to learn about good old British honesty and straight talk. Most of the third probably considered the Bible important in repelling vampires and other undesirables of a similar nature, rather than for any qualities it may possess as reading matter. Still, it would be injudicious for the churches to be too concerned about this latest example of blessed ignorance, since actually reading the Bible can occasionally have unfortunate consequences. I can still remember the effect of an illustration depicting some victims of the Great Flood in a Bible for Children during my nonage. Somewhat later, the Gideons visited one of my schools and committed the indiscretion of handing out New Testaments in which the Saviour's callousness, vengefulness, self-pity and megalomania were thrown into sharp relief by a modern English translation.


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