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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

On biblical illiteracy

[BUMP!—see update, below]
If the cornerstone is crumbling, what of the building it once upheld?
Interesting piece in The Weekly Standard . In his article " Bible Illiteracy in America ," David Gelernter outlines the historical impact the Bible has had on America and hints at what the future may hold for a biblically illiterate people. Thought-provoking.  A taste:
"THE GENEVA BIBLE became and remained the Puritans' favorite. It had marginal notes that Puritans liked--but King James and the Church of England deemed them obnoxious. The notes were anti-monarchy and pro-republic--"untrue, seditious, and savouring too much of dangerous and traitorous conceits," the king said. Under his sponsorship a new Bible was prepared (without interpretive notes) by 47 of the best scholars in the land. The King James version appeared in 1611--intended merely as a modest improvement over previous translations. But it happened to be a literary masterpiece of stupendous proportions. Purely on artistic grounds it ranks with Homer, Dante, Shakespeare--Western literature's greatest achievements. In terms of influence and importance, it flattens the other three."
Oh, and Gelernter also briefly points out where to lay the axe to the common lies about Puritans, as well.  Of course, since most Americans are as historically illiterate as they are biblically illiterate, little of what Gelernter says will have much context for most folks.
A society with no sense of its own history will lurch from one faddish thought to another without any genuine critical faculty to assess what is good or ill. Gelenter's article points out one of the important anchors we have cast away, resulting in just that very cultural character: rootless, we are "blown by every wind of teaching..."
Monday doldrums or simply recognizing the fact that my children will have to survive as adults in a land of illiterate pagans?
Buried deeply in the (very lengthy) afterward to the article are gems like this one:
"College students today are (spiritually speaking) the driest timber I have ever come across. Mostly they know little or nothing about religion; little or nothing about Americanism. Mostly no one ever speaks to them about truth and beauty, or nobility or honor or greatness. They are empty--spiritually bone dry--because no one has ever bothered to give them anything spiritual that is worth having. Platitudes about diversity and tolerance and multiculturalism are thin gruel for intellectually growing young people."
[UPDATE] See Romeocat's post today touching on this subject.