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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Booking Through Thursday

I skipped Booking Through Thursday last week because I've already shown my reading chair inside and because my outside spot is such a thorough mess with all of the stuff that accumulates in that area during this time of year, I'm too embarrassed to share. I intended to get it cleaned up so I could take a picture, but it remains in sorry shape.

This week, though...

Booking Through Thursday

1. Just out of curiosity, as we enter into Passover and Easter season . . . have you ever read the Bible? Just the odd chapter or Psalm? The whole thing? (Or, almost the whole thing? It's some heavy reading, of course, and those "begats" get kind of tedious.)

Not in its entirety, although I tried several times when I was young. I've read quite a bit, though of both the Old and New Testaments.

2. If so, was it from religious motivation or from a literary perspective? Stuck with nothing else to read in a hotel room the Gideon's have visited? Any combination?

I was motivated by both religious and literary reasons.

3. If not, why not? Against your religious principles? Too boring? Just not interested? Something you're planning on taking care of when you get marooned on a desert island?

To turn the question around and respond to why I have read - I think religion is interesting for its own sake...and not just the Christian religion. As I've grown older, I have found it appalling how little even people who attend church every Sunday know about their own religion. On Jay Leno one night, he asked questions about the Bible that I'd think anyone would know, but the responses were hard to believe. Surely, they edited out the people who knew who Cain and Abel were, an approximation of when Jesus lived, had heard of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. ?

The Bible has had such a huge impact on literature. How can you understand some of the greatest literature of the Western world without a basic knowledge of the Bible? The language is beautiful...well, The King James Version, anyway.

4. And while we're on the subject . . . what about the other great religious works out there? Are they more to your liking?

I'm not sure what is intended by the question. I've read bits of the Koran, the Torah, the Upanishads, but excerpted in other works; I've read about Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, etc. I've read Dante's Inferno, Paradise Lost, Gilgamesh, John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins and lots of other religious authors, poets, and literature. And I own quite a number of Joseph Campbell's books and frequently refer to them.

The upshot is that I have very little in depth knowledge about other religious works; a wide smattering of information. This week's Booking Through Thursday has really made me think.


  1. Gilgamesh and Hopkins...I'm fascinated by Gilgamesh because it's one of those works that encapsulates everything about human psychology, from love and greed to fear of death and awe. Aside from the wisdom, I find it comforting to know that the ancients were observant and wise despite less-advanced technology - so often, people mistake the technology for wisdom!

  2. :) I read Gilgamesh along with Beowulf, the Illiad, the Odyssey, the Aeniad, and other epic poetry. As is the way of things, I remember only that Gilgamesh had the right to sleep with all of the new brides on their wedding night, but Enkidu stopped him. Enkidu died. Gilgamesh grieved. Long journey. I don't think I got a speck of value from it.

    Oh, that is so sad. A great work of literature, reduced to a few lines of plot summary. Too many epics in too short a time...