Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Reading Is Fundamental (ist)

Sorry I've been missing in action for the last few days. The weekend was...well, the weekend. And Monday was my day off and I had better things to do (no offense). Yesterday...I had nothin'. I'm trying to sort out another writing project (that has been laying dormant for far too long) in my head and get it from outline form into something resembling a proposal, so my mind was elsewhere.

Interesting article yesterday on Yahoo. Historian: First English Bible Fueled First Fundamentalists. James Simpson, a professor of English at Harvard University believes that once the bible was translated into colloquial English by William Tyndale in 1525, newly literate Englishmen were terrified by the frightening moral code and began following it "to the letter" in order to avoid misinterpreting it.

Mr. Tyndale didn't help matters when he included this prologue in his bible translation:

If you fail to read it properly, then you begin your just damnation. If you are unresponsive … God will scourge you, and everything will fail you until you are at utter defiance with your flesh."

DEN dan dah (dramatic music) BWAAAHAHAHAHA! (menacing, maniacal laughter).

Sounds like a real gotta-read-it-from-cover-to-cover page turner doesn't it? Can you see the publishing industry using that approach with today's popular fiction? Warning! If you fail to read this book "PROPERLY" you will be covered with festering boils and wracked with agonizing pain before spontaneously bursting into flame. Be sure to watch for the sequel due out in July '08!

Simpson, author of "Burning to Read: English Fundamentalism and its Reformation Opponents", said (and I love this quote) "Reading became a tightrope of terror across an abyss of predestination. It was destructive for [Protestants], because it did not invite freedom but rather fear of misinterpretation and damnation".

He adds that it is a phenomenon of "newly literate people claiming that the sacred text speaks for itself, and legitimates violence and repression." Interesting Mr. Simpson, but where is the relevance to today's world? Hmmm?

13 comments:

Hungry Mother said...

That was the good old days when you could intimidate people. Luckily there's nobody in a position of authority today that would try that. I mean, who would care if he were to be called a traitor for just being critical?

Biscuit said...

"Warning! If you fail to read this book "PROPERLY" you will be covered with festering boils and wracked with agonizing pain before spontaneously bursting into flame."

That's got Stephen King written all over it.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

HM, good thing indeed. Sure am glad I don't live back in medieval times when they had things like religious fundamentalist influence over the government and the patriot act to control the...wait...oh shit.

Biscuit, I'd read it. Hell, a warning like that would probably triple sales!

Kitty said...

Aha! Now at least I know why it feels like God has scourged me, and everything has failed me until I'm at utter defiance with my flesh. Of course ... I should have realised much earlier.

;-) x

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Kitty, I'm going to have to cite you for "improper reading of the book". Turn it right side up next time or someone might mistake you for a US president.

Malach the Merciless said...

Not to mention it wasn't well translated initially either

Colonel Colonel said...

Reading just leads to trouble. I used to do whatever the tv preacher told me to do, but now I just take orders from the can of peaches in my fridge every morning.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Yeah Mal, just think how pissed off that monk was when he realized that "celebate" was supposed to have an "r" in it.

Col, these days I think we might be better off if all our deities were packed in heavy syrup, sealed in a can and chilled.
At least you don't have the can of peaches telling you to send him all your money now.

Mike said...

I read the Bible twice. Once when I was a kid and once when I was in my 30's. It didn't make sense either time.

I guess I am just damned.

Preposterous Ponderings said...

So we aren't important enough? sniff sniff

I'm hurt!

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Mike what can I say? Maybe if you were high. And listening to Pink Floyd. During a laser light show. And...nah, who am I kiddin'? It'll never make sense.

Prepon darlin' don't be hurt. Nuttin' personal. I still stopped by YOUR blog.

moooooog35 said...

I'm suing my doctor...

..because I was WONDERING where these festering boils came from.

Thanks for clarifying.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Mo...og, festering boils? I'm afraid that in your case they may not be related to reading.