As impossible as it may be to believe, the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs of Louisiana's legislature has just approved a bill that would make the Bible the state's official book.
No, it wasn't the committee's response to a national contest to see which legislature could pass the stupidest and most embarrassing bill in the country, but if there had been such a contest this bill surely would be in the running.
Rather, Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, simply wants to make the King James version of the Bible the official state book.
So as you already have guessed, this is one of the many versions of the Christian Bible. The Jewish Bible contains the same books found in what Christians traditionally (and, I argue, offensively) called the Old Testament, though in the Hebrew Scriptures those books appear in a different order.
And the Bible that Carmody wants to raise up on a pedestal does not contain the so-called apocryphal books that you'll find in various translations of the Bible used in the Catholic Church.
Nor does he want an English translation that is any more modern than one that uses the Elizabethan English of more than 400 years ago, thank you very much. Apparently he doesn't necessarily want the people of Louisiana to be able to understand the state's official book.
So here's my question: Why do some Christians think their faith is so weak and defenseless that they must put the power of official state actions behind it? Actions like making an old version of the Bible the state book or like putting Nativity Scenes or the Ten Commandments on courthouse lawns.
The truth is that Christianity often does better when it's cornered and oppressed by the powers that be. Look what happened to Christianity when Europe was the center of so-called Christendom. It wilted on the vine and today in many places there is barely breathing.
If Louisiana wants an official state book, how about making it the U.S. Constitution -- maybe one that highlights the First Amendment?
Or, failing that, I have some writer friends in Louisiana who'd be happy to have their books highlighted by the state. I could give Representative Carmody a list.
* * *
RELIGION'S FAMILY TIES
Scholars and others seem to spend a lot of time wondering about the source of religion in human history. Here is the latest guess. It has to do with family. Hmmmm. I'm thinking it might be more profitable to learn how to live out the healthy lessons of religion rather than worrying so much about its original source. But maybe that's just me.
* * *
P.S.: It's not too late to sign up for a class called "From Pain to Hope Through Writing" April 29 and 30 at the Heartland Center of Heartland Presbytery in Parkville, Mo. For details and to register, click here or download this pdf: Download Heartland-Writing-final.
* * *
ANOTHER P.S.: Typepad was down again for hours yesterday in something described as a denial of service attack. If you missed my weekend post because of that, click here.