19 August 2011

David Plotz's Good Book

My latest read was David Plotz's Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible.  I had been intrigued by the book after hearing of it while incidentally undertaking my own reading of the King James Bible from cover to cover, although David Plotz only reads the Old Testament, and a different translation.

I became interested in reading the King James Bible because it's so often cited as one of the two pillars of western literature, along with Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey.  Plotz, on the other hand, chose to do it to examine the roots of his culture and faith, though the latter was, by his own admission, lackluster.

Being an atheist but having Jewish friends, I enjoyed reading about how the Bible intersected with his faith and culture, and I felt a better understanding not only of Plotz but of my own friends.  He often talked about the "messy Bible" - that what is written, what is really on the page, is so much more complicated than the versions that we remember from popular culture or even from Sunday school.  Characters Plotz once thought of as heroes suddenly had far darker undertones.

Reading the Old Testament, Plotz felt, much as I did, that the God depicted in it was, far from being a reverential figure, a rather awful one.  I think Stewie Griffin best summed up God when he said "I love God, he's so deliciously evil!"  That God is far more often vindictive and cruel, and even genocidal, than he is kind or merciful.

Plotz also remarked a great deal on how much of our literary and linguistic heritage comes from the Bible, frequently mentioning both his own translation as well as the King James one.

All in all, I enjoyed Good Book, but I find it hard to write very much about it.  So much of it felt so in sync with my own thoughts after reading the Bible, I find it hard to differentiate between my reaction to the Bible and my reaction to Plotz reading the Bible.

It was a good read, and I look forward to reading the other book I got from him, which is The Genius Factory, but I won't be reading that quite yet.

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Books: Finished Good Book.  Up next is Squirrels Seeking Chipmunk.

Bottles: Nothing new lately, but hopefully I will have some new experiences when I go to Vail, Colorado.

Writing: I've been very intent on Into the Shining Sun.  I finished the first draft and have been rereading it before starting in on revisions after talking with my writing group about it on 28 August.

Guitar: I have sadly been practicing less than I should, since Into the Shining Sun has consumed so much of my creative energy lately.  That said, still working on "Pigs," also revisiting several songs from The Wall.