Friday, March 29, 2013

The Invisible Festival

Where I live, Virginia if you are not sure, is one of the most religious places I have ever lived. As I have written about before, there are churches on practically every street corner, as well as a couple of churches in between the corners.

Religion, the Christian religion that is, is very much part and parcel of life and society in this neck of the woods, and in much of the US it seems, especially the South. As a result of this open, and accepted, religiosity I find it astounding that there is no holiday for Easter, no Good Friday, no Easter Monday, they are just regular work days. This weekend is the most important festival of the Christian calendar and in this most religious of nations it is not a holiday, I find that astounding.

 Of course there are the usual symbols associated with Easter, painted eggs, fluffy bunny rabbits and indulgent amounts of chocolate, but you would have thought that with so many people cramming into churches each weekend there would be more of a focus on the Gospel narratives of the Crucifixion and Resurrection in the popular culture.

 I guess bunnies and eggs are just an easier sell than the bloody and painful realities of being nailed to a plank of wood.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

'The Bible' is Awful

It was a Sunday night and I had just got home from working at the Starr Hill Brewery. Just to bring you up to speed as I haven't posted on this particular blog since 2011, I am currently without full time employment, having been laid off from my last job, for a company called Silverchair, back in October. My gig at Starr Hill is part time, basically serving beer to visitors and talking about it - I like to think I am pretty good at it.

Having eaten my dinner and wandered down into our living room to rot my brain by watching television, more updates, Mrs V and I bought a house last June, when I had a nice job with a good income. On the History Channel that particular Sunday was part one of the new mini-series 'The Bible', so we decided to give it a whirl.

Now, Mrs V are not church goers, or religious in general, but we do have religious backgrounds, in my case even studying to be a minister, and we share an interest in religion as an expression of the human experience. I have come to expect little from the History Channel, other than Jesus, Nazis and aliens, but 'The Bible' really scrapes the barrel.

'The Bible' is essentially a dramatised version of an insanely abridged potted history of the Jewish people that takes a literalistic interpretation of the Old and New Testament texts and presents them as authentic history. Even the early stories of Abram, Lot and Lot's wife are presented as historical fact rather than the hagiographical accounts of a people's origins, to put it bluntly 'The Bible' is disingenuous to the core.

I spent most of that first episode muttering to myself, and occasionally exclaiming quite openly that the fare being served up was a pile of steaming shite. I guess I should have been wary when in the story of Abraham they used the names 'Abraham' and 'Sarah' all the way through rather than 'Abram' and 'Sarai' - see Genesis 17 for the reasons behind the name change. 

As the show progressed though I realised that there was another historical problem, the cast all looked as though they had been aboard the 3 legendary ships that carried the early Anglo-Saxons to the British Isles, white, blue eyes, you get the picture, not a Semitic feature between them.

I guess my major problem with the entire show is that it is a complete failure as a work of historical inquiry, as such, and forgive me if I am being zealous about history, has no place on the History Channel (neither does a lot of the shit they serve up but that's a different rant). Shows about the history of the Bible, sure, that would actually be interesting, unless they went along the 'God wrote it' line rather than the truth that it is a collection of ancient writings which have little internal correspondence to each other. A show about the history in which the events of the Bible are purported to have taken pace, yep that would be interesting too, if we could ever get some consensus on when the Exodus took place for example.

As it is, 'The Bible' simply sucks at best and is an act of simony at worst.