Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Bible stories

You probably cannot help but notice the ‘celebrations’ around the 400th anniversary of the first publication of the King James Bible.
Radio 4 devoted an entire day to people reading excerpts from it, there have been TV programmes, newspaper and magazine articles, etcetera, etcetera…et pigging cetera. Apparently the non-religious are not supposed to object because the ‘KJB’ (as those in the delusion flogging business call it) is, after all, ‘part of our heritage’, a ‘cultural icon’, and so on.
And this racket also has dodgy entrepreneurs trying to flog old horses and new funding applications over here too. Not that there’s anything new about shady characters trying to steal public money with dodgy ‘heritage’ product on the Isle of Man, of course.
OK, I am certainly not buying the ‘part of our heritage’ lie (and I am always on my guard ANY time a prat in a dog collar starts sniffing around Manx schools looking for fresh victims) but I will accept that the King James Bible is one massive chunk of lush 17th century English prose, not to mention hundreds of rich phrases that decorate our everyday speech.
So when the Mrs noticed a newspaper article where a local church was asking folk to go along and copy out verses from the Bible in their best handwriting for a UK-wide project that aimed to celebrate the KJB’s 400th anniversary, and she, being capable of some pretty elegant script, fancied a go I was OK with that. I even thought The Prodigy might want to be part of this ‘historic’ project.
The article had no contact details (typical Christian attention to detail there) but vaguely mentioned the Methodists were running it so we wandered into a church social to ask the score. They didn’t really know about it, but knew a woman who did, so took our details to pass to her, who would presumably get in touch……..
And almost a month later did, with a vague promise to come round some time when she could….
And almost two weeks later did, having been delayed by the promise of loads of verses being written in church events going on around the island (where we later found, hardly anyone wanted to know).
And so, to get to the point, we were given some paper and asked to write out Psalm 54. Fair enough, the Psalms feature some the best prose passages in the King James Bible, so I rushed to get out my granny’s old copy……
At which point the organiser explained that they weren’t actually using the KJB for the text, they were using the New International Version. For those who aren’t up on this guff, that’s a twentieth century bible edition written in ‘modern English’ for thickos. It reads like something compiled by a committee of marketing trainees for a BTEC project.
To get some idea how awful the NIV Bible is compared to the KJB, imagine Hamlet’s soliloquy read aloud by a top Shakespearean actor. Then imagine the same speech rewritten as a report for a particularly dull corporate entity, typed up by an office junior who can’t spell any word with more than six letters and read out by some kid on work experience who just wants to go back to texting her mates.
But that’s Christians for you. They have a resource that is at least worthy of secular respect, but they bin it for something duller than ditchwater in a frantic ‘we gotta get down with the kids’ panic.
But they still want your cash, they still demand the right to pester your kids on the pretence that this is a project of massive historical, cultural and educational interest……..
And I still cannot take them seriously.

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