Professor Kristin Swenson advises people to read the bible, even if you don’t believe it.
My Take: Read the Bible, even if you don’t believe it
By Kristin Swenson in CNN’s BeliefBlog online
“True Grit’s” stern little girl Mattie – shoot, the Coen Brothers’ entire movie – dramatizes a single line of biblical text. And the way the film interprets that particular text makes that biblical verse directly related to the governor of Illinois’ recent decision to ban the death penalty, a decision which was reportedly informed by the Bible.
The movie’s and the Illinois governor’s conclusions – about capital punishment in this case – are exactly opposite. While Mattie’s justice requires death for the man who killed her dad, the governor’s has no place for such execution. Yet both have biblical precedent.
So knowing about the Bible not only makes the movies more fun and enables critique of public policy, but it also paradoxically encourages you to think for yourself.
The Bible’s long history of development, reflecting many voices, and the fact that it’s usually read in translation invite our engagement with it not merely as passive recipients of a fixed meaning but as unique individuals bringing different points of view to bear.
The trick, of course, is knowing something about the Bible, even if you don’t believe in it. And the more you know, the more intriguing it gets.