Monday, September 05, 2005

Mr. Therapist Posts Thrice-Rejected Book Review From 1995

Yes, it's a long one. It was written when Bill Clinton was still President. Take it with an anachronistic grain of salt.--T

A totally objective look at The New Testament and Psalms-
An Inclusive Version
Oxford University Press, 1995

By Ron Giesecke

The dungheap of really bad literature is one book higher these days. Seems somebody out there obviously believes we needed yet another translation of the Bible, though I fail to understand why. This is of no consequence, because neither did they, apparrently. And as our vernacular, colloquials, and sentence composites continue their ridiculous trek to oblivion in the dim light of political correctness, they might as well keep the printing presses warm and ready for continual amendment by people who think Camus, Sartre, Marx, and Stalin are all just post-Biblical versions of the Apostle Paul.

Once you start down the slippery slope of political correctness, it's nearly impossible to claw your way back to the pinnacle of common sense. Not when the powers that be are investing preposterous amounts of energy redacting words like men, crippled, drunk, bad, obnoxious, lazy, tall, evil, girl, and weak from our language, and replacing them with "more constructive and positive renderings that don't alienate and ostracize." So now the Beatitudes have been expurgated by the same kind of wisacres who couch gangster rap as "viable and noteworthy grassroots political unrest" instead of "crap." Though I'd hate to see what they'd do with actual crap.

Come to think of it, they'd publish it. And now the same people who pry butterflies out of their cocoons because they can't stand to watch them struggle have transgressed all manner of scriptural decency. They've taken a book that was meant to be judgmental and brash and offensive to sinners, and removed any language or inferences that might be judgmental, brash, or offensive to anyone politically left of Reagan Democrats. This is what happens when you allow smart people to dictate theology and tax policies and other things that smart people are bound to louse up if you leave them unattended. And the bumper-sticker-to-be reads loud and clear: PROFESSING THEMSELVES TO BE WISE THEY BECAME PROFESSORS.

According to the pronouncements made by these - Oxford's brightest supernovas, Rodney King, Alger Hiss, Ted Kennedy, Lenny Bruce, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega and Lucifer the Serpent are all but mere victims of bigoted biblical interpretations containing deliberate literary boobytraps meant to keep women and minorities out of heaven. And though the six editors responsible for this nauseating bilge vigorously reject the label "Politically Correct," they reek all the telltale signs that accompany it anyway. Not the least of them being - that you and I are vapid morons, who, unless headed off at the pass on the King James business loop, will start executing homosexuals and alcoholics any second.

I've complained enough now. Let's give a fair assessment of the damage. The translation is loosely based (and when I mean loosely, I don't, in any way mean to use the epithet as a hurtful pejorative to lambaste or single out those who could be addicted to promiscuity or anything) on the New Revised Standard Version of the New Testament and Psalms. The similarities end there, though, and they give detailed, intellectual reasoning behind every swipe of the X-acto knife.

First is the appalling elimination of Gender with regards to God in any fashion. The pronouns "He" "Him" "His" and so forth have been eliminated, except for where Jesus' humanity was concerned. And it apparently took their eye-teeth to even allow that. The "Father" has been relegated to "Father-Mother," "Lord" is thought to indicate a latent desire to put slave-owning back on the ballot, so "God" has been substituted where it does not imply a direct correlation to nomenclature. "Son" is now "Child" and "Son of man" is conquered with a redundant and generic "Human One." "Kingdom" is a big no-no. Too elitist. "Darkness," where not referring directly to the absence of light has been dispatched as well, for obvious reasons. All references to "Jews" wherein it is meant only to imply a non-believing state, have been removed, and changed to "The religious authorities." Though had this change been made prior to World War II, religious authorities like the ones who wrote this Bible might have wanted to change it back by the time they got to Auschwitz.

Then there is the cumbersome millstone of malady; being identified solely on the basis of whatever ailment or limitation you had back then. "Lepers" are now "people with leprosy" to avoid a sole identity on their affliction alone. The deaf, blind, possessed and Lame are all treated equally swell. And "slaves" are now "Those who are enslaved" to clear up any misconceptions that Pharaoh's pyramid throng were a detachment of the Job Corp., Egyptian Volunteer Auxiliary Division. Also, God's "Right Hand" is now a sensitive and ambidextrous "power" to avoid a mass tithing exodus from the southpaw constituency*.

All this of course leads to dissonance and gratuitous departures from the beaten path just to get a point across. I now submit as evidence, the most famous verse of all time:

For God so loved the world that God gave God's only Child, so that everyone who believes in that Child may not perish, but have eternal life.

Thank God that the wedding feast will consist of more than tofu, scones and soy bean milk.

These pointy-heads should've never started zapping the offending fodder from the Word, because there is no tangible point at which you can say "we've now gone far enough in our endeavor." Not with ever-morphing political babble, and I have discovered egregious errors that should send them scurrying for their Farvergnugens. They managed to forget a few imperiled groups in their bedlam fight for Biblical justice. Take a look at Ephesians 5:27, for starters. Can we say age discrimination, children?

so as to present the church to Christ in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind - yes, so that the church may be holy and without blemish.

They should've picked right up on that one. I'm sure the elderly are real appreciative of that vigorous defense. It's a good thing Ivy Leaguers are out there leading the cause for Medicare.

Of course, the list of offendees is a never-ending-but-ever-growing conveyor of grouches and whiners, and so even this ultra-sensitive excuse for the parchment neglects to rid it self of the chronic jingoism and xenophobia that keeps us up at night ready to take up the gun and kill Russians. Mathew 27:7 seemingly advocates a maverick solution to America's illegal immigration woes, and might conceivably become the presiding assent on UN, international overpopulation management as well.

After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter's field as a place to bury foreigners.

John 15:1 says, "I am the true vine, and my Father-Mother is the vinegrower" and this is pretty much sums up the way the entire book sounds in regard to God in that office - ridiculous. But there are blatant potholes of inconsistency that indicate a desire to keep even the ridiculous from sounding too ridiculous. John 14:6's famous admonition of "no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" should read "no one comes to the Father-Mother, except through me." But the editors appeared to have stubbed the biggest little piggy on their own, self-made stumblingblock, and had to cauterize the wound by putting "God" there this time, keeping any up-and-coming bastions of magnanimity from sabotaging a perfectly good sabotage effort - like balancing the equation on both sides. Here's a suggestion:

no one comes to the Father-Mother, except through me and myself.

That's better. It seems that in their high-minded quest for inclusiveness, Punditry Inc. excluded more than just senior citizens and immigrants. Lazarus was but three-fifths of a man as well, at least in Mathew 11:5.

Those who are blind receive their sight, those who are lame walk, the people with leprosy are cleansed, those who are deaf hear, the DEAD are raised, and those who are poor have good news brought to them.

And Bob from Sesame Street would've had a blast, had his intolerable bent for noticing things taken him to Bible college:

One of these things is not like the other,
One of these things is not the same,
One of these things is not like the other,
Is it dead, poor, lepered, blind or lame?

Drunkards are left drunkards here, too. The same goes for gluttons. And I see no reason not to have them "those who are drunk" or "those who are gluttonous" Or even "Senators from Massachusets." But no. The tanked-up and the adipose have to tough it out alone. No support groups. No advocacy. No group hugs. Nothing.

But give these people time. They'll get around to cuddling boozers and eaters, too. There is no way this version is going to be the end-all for the politically antagonistic and scripturally upset. Loathers and pleaders will force yet another, revised specimen of this one every couple of years or so, I imagine. And these editors are not Christians - they're focus group satellites. And the material in their exhaustive work should get them Booted from Oxford, not . . . wait a minute . . .Oxford . . . didn't Bill Clinton come from . . . I've got it. These people are not even special interest ventriloquist dummies - they're politicians. And this Bible is the end result of what would happen if The National Education Association Textbook Committee decided to allow it back into the public school system. They have to stay one step ahead of him. They never know when that tricky Bill is going to burn them next.

So this version should really be called The Clinton Cabinet Pocket New Testament (the tentative text, culled from the transcripts of a bipartisan theological consortium, all consigned to the purpose of factual flexibility and perception management, entirely contingent on substantial underwriter participation and commitment in areas of recurring liability.) Written by George Stephanopolous and Robert B. Reich. All rights reserved.

I have an idea. The President needs new cabinet members, and since he appoints people who have too much time on their hands anyway, why not Alumni from his own Alma Mater? They're the consummate policy-wonks. They're think-tank Bourgeoisie. They might even be able to push It Takes A Village as a lost canon, an do a rewrite/amalgamation project before the year 2000. Don't have any children.

But let's give them a little credit. These tattered soldiers from the intellectual battleground have fought long, hard and valiantly for the Bible they wanted, and, though bloodied and battle-weary, human tenacity prevailed nonetheless, and they sallied their version straight over enemy territory and through the gate called Mainstream.

So they deserve to read it.

* Though I am totally flummoxed as to why they left the right and left hands intact in Mathew 25:33, where the sheep and the goats are getting rendered at the judgement seat. This is far too stark and prejudicial, and should have been soft-soaped on the spot. The left hand, as in Biblical typeology, is associated with judgement and damnation and eternal ruin and -well, sort of like left wing. Now that I think about it, maybe it ought to stay just the way it is.

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