GLOBAL 'DA VINCI CODE' ANGST
Even in Asia, some Christian leaders are all up in arms about the new movie, "The Da Vinci Code." It's hard to imagine how any movie's critics could give it more publicity than some Christians have given this one. No doubt in some ways PR equals PR -- public resistance equals public relations.
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WHO SAID THAT ABOUT GOD?
All of us can toss around quotes about religion -- and sometimes we're even sure of the original source.
A year or two ago, for instance, I wrote a column mentioning the results of a national survey that showed the most well-known and commonly used quote from the Bible is this: "God helps those who help themselves." Well, as I pointed out in the column, not only is that not found in the Bible, but the theology behind it is essentially unbiblical.
You've come to the right place today for an answer. You can go to the work of a guy I met in 1992 in Columbus, Ohio, where he was one of the speakers at the annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. His name is Ralph Keyes, and his new book is called The Quote Verifier.
Among other things, Keyes (whose last name, by the way, is pronounced Kize, not Keez) teaches writing to ministers, mostly Baptist, in a doctoral program. So when he decided to put together this book checking on the true sources of various quotes, he included some faith-based quotes.
For instance, here's his entry on "God helps those who help themselves": "Despite a widespread misconception that these words come straight from the Bible, Aesop wrote, five centuries before the birth of Christ, 'The gods help them that help themselves.' Two millennia later, James Howell included in a 1659 collection of proverbs, 'God helps him, who helps himself.' In 1698 this became 'God helps those who help themselves,' from the pen of British politician Algernon Sidney. Thirty-five years after that, Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard observed, 'God helps them that help themselves.' Verdict: Credit Aesop for recording an early version of this thought, which was probably commonplace even in his time."
You'll also find interesting entries on such phrases as "Religion is the opium of the people" and "The Lord works in mysterious ways."
As for the increasingly common phrase, "I read it on the Bill Tammeus blog," well, I may have been the first one to say that -- just to get it started.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (By the way, our Faith section in this Saturday's paper will be redesigned and printed on our snazzy new presses. Take a look.)