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Sunday, 4 May 2008

The Bible? Is that the one with Charlton Heston?

A major survey held across nine nations in the northern hemisphere says that, in the West these days, the Bible is hardly ever opened by most people. Well, it's hardly surprising. It's had to be dumbed down so many times to make it accessible to a dumbed-down world (which still doesn't seem to have worked), while it is at its poetic best in the King James version, notwithstanding its thees and thous and Verily I say unto yous.

What a lot of people don't realise is that there are a helluva lot of good stories in there that would knock The Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who and Harry Potter and the [Whatever] into a cocked hat. (Well, maybe not Doctor Who.) But that's as far as it goes.

Maybe the real reason it's lost its popularity is that all those people who used to pick it up morning and evening for an uplifting little homily or two or to turn to in times of strife just can't be arsed any more.

The survey polled the general population in eight European countries – Britain, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Russia – and the USA.

It also revealed that "the Second Vatican Council's call for a wider knowledge of the Bible among Catholics has mostly remained unheeded".

It showed that, in the last 12 months, fewer than a third of Europeans, on average, had read a passage from the scriptures: the percentage was 36 per cent in Britain, but fell as low as 27 per cent in Italy and 20 per cent in Spain, and even in Catholic Poland rose only to 38 per cent. This is in stark contrast to results from the US, where three out of four Americans have read the Bible in the last 12 months.

Well, there's no accounting for religious Americans.

"There is a widespread need for interpretation and help in understanding the Scriptures," said Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture. But, says the Tablet, "he felt this was positive because it showed a need for the Church to teach the scriptures".

A negative is made into a positive. Hmm. It's a good thing that people need other people, preferably men wearing frocks, to interpret a message that is supposed to be for all? Is that it? Or am I missing something?

And you can bet your bottom that it's positive as far as Bishop Ravasi is concerned: while there is a perceived need for a powerful organisation to keep the bullshit and propaganda and dogma and fairy stories flowing, he can maintain his opulent lifestyle, along with all the other bejewelled tossers in the Vatican.

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