26 February 2009

Why didn't Milton just look harder for Paradise?

I found myself to be a local literary genius back in public high school when I could out-analyze my classmates on any text with virtually no effort. My secret was that I could recognize a Christian allegory or biblical allusion a mile off. Thank you, pious family and Lutheran K-8.

I've been entertained recently by the religious illiteracy of the mainstream media. NPR explained a few mornings ago that Abraham Lincoln "was martyred after his assassination." How's that? I've also been working through Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Smart lady (if you can overlook her endless gratuitous digs at stereotyped people of faith), but confused. For example, when the tomatoes were coming fast and furious, her neighbor saw her hauling them into the house unassisted and made a remark which she heard as, "The harvest is bountiful but the labors few." She thought he was saying that it's not hard to gather ripe tomatoes. That's laborers, Barb. Your neighbor was being sympathetic. The distinction could easily be lost on the unsuspecting ear, but it's too bad you (and apparently all your pre-publication readers and editors, also) are too enlightened to be familiar with a line from Heilige Schrift anyone in Christendom, believers or not, would have immediately recognized 50 years ago.

What meaningful, universal allusions remain in the post-Christian era, when the only thing people know from the Bible is "Judge not, lest ye be judged"? Our literati don't just fail to use Christian allusion, they fail to perceive it.

5 comments:

Thursday's Child said...

Amen!

Gauntlets said...

LOL. Do they even know that much? I thought the "judge not" line had been dumbed down to, "everybody walk the dinosaur."

That was my least favorite Kingsolver book. Too . . . Al Gore.

Reb. Mary said...

Yeah, there was that big thing awhile back that one book on Bible basics for use in high school lit classes because all this religious illiteracy is making it impossible for anyone to understand lit of any depth anymore. Enlighteningly specific, I know. But perhaps you recall it.

TruthQuestioner said...

Reminds me of a conversation I overheard during college chorus practice for Christmas. "Why do we have to sing these churchy songs? Why can't we sing Rudolf or Santa Claus or something that is actually about Christmas?"

It's not only Bible literacy that's gone out the window - History too.

I hadn't realized this (as I don't watch tv often) until my Canadian professor showed it to the class, but apparently, back during the presidential runnings, when Hillary Clinton challenged Barack Obama to a "Lincoln-Douglas Debate," dear old Fox News put up two photographs as back drop:

Abraham Lincoln and FREDERICK Douglas.

Talk about historical ignorance in the media.

Rebekah said...

TQ, huge eye roll!