Thursday, April 26, 2007

On the box
‘Battle for the Bible’
PBS might be a smidge anti-Catholic. ‘Tha thinks?’ (‘For a pledge of $50 you can have your own “Abortion YES!” coffee mug!’)* I predicted this one from the advert: Protestant-dominoing-into-secular propaganda. People still have itching ears for anti-Romanism a century and a half after Maria Monk. The preface to my King James Bible admits there were Catholic English Bibles before the ‘Reformation’. The real problem with Wyclif and his friends was they were heretics trying to distort the scriptures like Luther wanted to later (he wanted to get rid of James for example).

I’d think the producers of this programme wouldn’t want people hearing parts of Leviticus and Romans (because of this) for example.

But of course in a way the Protestant bias makes sense. Like I said it’s a domino effect: private judgement from individually trying to interpret scripture to a flat rejection of them. That’s right: Pat Robertson and Richard Dawkins are actually in a continuum, even on the same team really.

Funny how this never mentions predictable results of private judgement like the Roman Catholic martyr saints tortured and killed by the Protestants (who are all earnest truth-seekers and courageous martyrs here), or Jim Jones and his People’s Temple, but it does seem to take a ‘divide and conquer’ joy in seeing Christians split into thousands of sects.

They accuse the church of hiding the Bible and now what do some want to do? Bowdlerise the Bible of course! (It’s been done: Thomas Jefferson, the English ‘Enlightenment’ deist, with his de-supernaturalised scripture. Great statesman, awful theologian.)

Those of us who know English, Catholic and Anglican history can enjoy some risible clangers in the historical re-enactments and film clips. (Here’s another: the New Testament is in ‘ancient Greek’!)

(Funny how state control of a church is talked about as something not bad really — just like the Communists wanted centuries later.)

As I like to say ‘two only’ but not ‘as generally necessary to salvation’ things came out of the ‘Reformation’ in Blighty: services in English and a go at the daily office for everyman. Everything else was a mistake.

One good point they mention is that Coverdale’s, Cranmer’s and the Authorised Version’s idiom (like Shakespeare it’s early Modern English not Old or Middle! ...though from the sound of it Wyclif wrote in Middle English like Chaucer) has become the liturgical language of many English-speakers just about everywhere. This English is our Latin, our Byzantine Greek, our Slavonic. Having a hieratic, sacral language is instinctive; even Baptists couldn’t get away from it! (And even the hacks at ICEL couldn’t change the way people pray the Our Father.)

*I know there are excellent public television and radio stations; I’ve pledged to two of them. One, WYBE, shows news and music from around the world and in truly liberal fashion had the Christian bluegrass I mentioned the other day.

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