tag : bright yellow-green apples: oooh I don't need no minute man

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Thursday, September 22, 2005

oooh I don't need no minute man



figure 97.9. the way it's carried

I found this picture over on Divine Talk, and for some reason it really fascinates me. It might be the presentation of God going through the motions, gesturing in a physical manner. I've certainly never seen so transcendent, mysterious, partial, a God visually presented to us in such a visually convincing way. Presenting to us with such assured potential, for how we might communicate that God ourselves and see. Move over word, the flesh is having its say.

Talking of which, there's been a 100 minute bible written. For better or worse, it seems to be a reflection of time of soundbites and short spans - the marketing of everything in an attempt to make it snappy. Maybe some people say this is about accessibility. This new format might help people find a hook into the bible, to get an overview of the narratives and a taster from which to further explore, which is surely for the good. I wouldn't wish to be a snob, even as I mourn the loss of poetry and subtlety that must surely follow this 'abstract'. But one worry I do have is of the image it creates, or is borne out of the approach. In treating the bible as something that can be condensed to a few pages, the writer's working on the basis that the bible is a linear treatise which we can communicate by maxims. Where's the mystery and discovery, as many stories as life, in a thin adaptation?

11 Comments:

Blogger Sarah said...

Right well, anything that removes content is bound to cause offence, and cause the anglican in all of us(or just me, because not everyone has anglican in them) doesn't like change. However I don't think thats what you are getting at! I'm saddened by this too, by condensing the book it makes there less to explore. However if it is treated like a mini synopsis, or a really long blurb and the feature-length bible was used as a reference point i don't see the problem. Replacing the Bible entirely with a mini bible does strike me as a loss tho. Maybe it shall sit next to "The Street Bible" in the Bible Revamp Hall of Fame

3:37 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Given how much fuss there was around when they changed the order of service books a couple of years ago (now common worship of course – apparently a vibrant modern idiom dontchaknow), perhaps you’re right to attribute some of the discomfort to the Anglican in us! How easily a resistance to loss, can become a resistance to any change at all – even an optional one.

Another odd thing about this whole process of turning the bible into a short story is that, in its nature, it’s itself a collection of stories. It’s a multitude of books, that somehow coalesce in their variety. That mosaic of themes and concerns seems almost to be ironed out, and all beautiful tension lost. Clear doctrine and an explicable telling. Is this not what they write catechisms for, rather than scripture?

Ha, the Street Bible does seem to sit in ignominy for a lot of people! ;)

4:29 PM  
Blogger ash said...

I find one always has top remember who wrote it when considering such things.

Whoever paraphrases the Bible will have their own interpretations, views and agendas. Your Bible and my Bible could end up looking very different if we both did our own paraphrases. This is a danger, and something we should strive to remember.

What is also dangerous, is using a paraphrase as a translation. I have heard things like "I'm reading from the Message bible, as I feel it translates it better". The problem is, it's not a translation, it's a paraphrase... a re-working. These things give us the jist, some very well, but they don't give us the whole picture. Only someone elses' take on it.

we need to remember that, and then, I hope, we can have a bit of fun...

5:39 PM  
Blogger Barnabas said...

I totally agree Laurence, we are in danager of dumbing down the bible, it's God inspired not man. It's been put together like it is for a reason, we should not mess with it.

I'm trying to write a short course for beginners as an Intro to the Bible looking at each book what's it's about etc.

New Christian as well as those who have been Christians for ages need to understand the bible it's easy and hard parts, why it's put togetehr as it has been.

4:31 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Ash -

"Whoever paraphrases the Bible will have their own interpretations, views and agendas. Your Bible and my Bible could end up looking very different if we both did our own paraphrases. This is a danger, and something we should strive to remember."

Well indeed, and the personalisation that's involved with a project like this could so easily be forgotten in the excitment. Especially if there's too much talk of plain biblical truth, assuming that there's an easily capturable essence of the misseo dei, or whatnot. But I don't want to get into attacking straw men here. It must also be remembered that every translation has been, in some degree, a paraphrase. I'm not much of a linguist, but when translating from one language to another there's a certain level of assuming and creating. There are some words and concepts that just don't equate exactly - indeed there are some parts which we may never fully appreciate outside of the context they were first heard in.

And our reading itself, as individuals and communities, is such an interpretative process. Which is where you "I like" comes in. If we forget out very own continuous internal paraphrasing - as we key in with certain bits and screen others, filter and rework unsoncsiously - then we're being a wee bit dishonest. Not to mention in denial. Explore widely, that's all we can do...

11:42 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Anderson -

"...we are in danager of dumbing down the bible, it's God inspired not man. It's been put together like it is for a reason, we should not mess with it."

Oh that phrase, I've long been shy of it. Can there perhaps be an amnesty for "dumbing down"? ;P Now, I would argue in no uncertain terms that we need to have a good balanced reading of the bible - insofar as it's so human and so divine. Sure it's a shocking, incisive, revelatory, collection of stories, and thus can't really ever be described as balanced. But that very nature, as a collision of so many elements, paints the most astute portrait of our humanity and the divinity we seek. There's enough in there for a lifetime, more than anyone can ever pare down or own safely. And that's why there needs to be a certain ambivalence about any easier reading, or notion of making it 'accessible'. Even as it might be a tsunami to some first time readers skipping through the whole caboodle. But it's not a single unit, more so many people's discoveries and confessions.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Barnabas said...

Laurence -

O yes I'm all for making the bible more accessible for everyone, but not to the extent where we loose some of the mystery or meaning.

If that happends then it just becomes another book.

8:52 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

"O yes I'm all for making the bible more accessible for everyone, but not to the extent where we loose some of the mystery or meaning. If that happends then it just becomes another book."

Just another book? What an interesting phrase. I've read thoughts from those in, for example, journelism, who've tried to read it like literature. And they've actually got a lot out of the stories anyway. What might be more of a concern to that kinda reading is if, as a de-sacrelised book, it were divourced from its faith communities. If this is stripped of its mystery, by accident or design, if it's pared down to a tract or polemical novel, then it's adrift from any shared reading. Part of what keeps biblical interpretation sane seems to be that it's grounded in the context of common traditions, and rounded memory, that stretches back through thousands of years or wisdom. Once the bible becomes a standalone document, as is encouraged by the translation into a 'tract', then there's a tacit encouragement to run off and do what you like with it. I'm not exactly averse to rebbelious or 'alternative' exegesis ;) but I can also see how abuse might more easily arise.

Having said that, this process also allows some people - who're perhaps reticent about approaching the scriptural stories because of the potential of being prematurely drawn into a faith community, without being ready to commit - to enter a little into the narratives and find some connection. Then to proceed and find how to involve within the communities who're trustees of the stories' care.

11:54 PM  
Blogger Barnabas said...

We need to make the bible relevant to this generation it's true, I'm going on a storytelling course soon to look at the bible and how we can make it come a live, I'm looking forward to it.

Gandhi wrote the following which had a huge impact on me when I read it awhile ago

'You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, turn the world upside down, and bring peace to a battle torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.'

How true Gandhi was. The bible is the living word of God, it's living not dead and we just treat it as literature nothing else, we need to recapture a passion for the word of God to read it and believe it as God's word to us.

Does the bible excite us, it does me in a powerful way, when I read it, it blows me away sometimes tingling down the spine.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Barnabas said...

Sorry me again, just found this quote which kind of goes with what we've been talking about:

Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with
our years.

-- Charles H. Spurgeon

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Donna said...

Hmm...I think I like this picture too.

8:55 PM  

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