Against the Obscurantists

It was a muggy day in late July, and I had gone to the back of the church to rest on crutches and take some pressure off my sprained ankle.  Taking advantage of my condition to stand in the way of one of the church’s too-few fans, I noticed a woman feeding candy to her little girls.  The mother was not so young as not to know that eating in church is not permitted, but the name of the candy—“Bible Bar”—apparently was enough to excuse the lapse, as it excuses coloring books, so long as the coat of many Crayola colors belongs to Joseph.  How many lapses in taste and judgment that single word “Bible” seems to justify: comic books, cartoons, and videos that are, apart from the biblical storylines, indistinguishable from what is shown on the Cartoon Network, ahistorical and un-Christian nonsense like The Prince of Egypt, and the bad puns and casual blasphemies that adorn the billboards of so many churches.

Christian faith is no guarantee of good taste, sound logic, or common sense—it is not supposed to be—and the Scriptures, suitably misread, have been used to justify polygyny and sexual license, liturgical dancing and grape juice for communion, both capitalism and socialism, going to church on Saturday or not celebrating Christmas, and all of the cults whose members spend their time not on prayer and good works but on calculating the exact date of the end of...

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