Friday, February 10, 2012

The Year of the Bible!

A friend of mine and I declared 2007 to be “The Year of the Bad Joke.” For the first few months of that year, we stopped censoring ourselves. Whatever terrible, corny pun popped into our heads, we said it. The secret, we discovered, to making a bad joke funny consisted almost entirely of getting a high-five after you told it.

Speaking of bad jokes, I was recently surprised to learn how Pennsylvania’s State Representatives quietly and unanimously adopted HR 535 declaring 2012 “The Year of the Bible” here in the Quaker state. Since then an online petition is being circulated that may result in the assembly’s reconsideration of the resolution.

Now I’m not really the type to get riled up about things, and for many reasons (chief among them being how empty and frivolous a culture war gesture like this resolution is compared to some of the really harmful things this batch of legislators has conspired on) I’m not going to get riled up about this.

Still, it wouldn’t be so bad if what they meant was “The Year of the Bible [as Literature].” Sort of like a college class I saw offered once that considered the historicity of the text, the way its form and meaning has changed over time, etc., using some combination of close reading, translation study, sociology, and book history.

It would be a positive sign of things to come. Like maybe next year would be The Year of Franz Kafka’s The Trial, or The Year of Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood, or The Year of The Geneology of Morals, or The Year of Frank Herbert’s Dune.

Like maybe Harrisburg is outlining a broad liberal arts curriculum that promises to enrich and enlarge the solitary existences of all Pennsylvanians. Like maybe Harrisburg’s point isn’t to alienate Pennsylvania’s non-Christians nor to bolster the unhistorical conceit that the United States of America is the true Christian nation whose laws are God’s laws rather than the accreted trials, failures, prejudices, hopes and whims of generations of human beans working in both good and bad faith.

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