Sunday, April 3, 2022

Why don’t schools ban the Bible?

     April Fool's Day was low-key this year. I noticed only two attempts at pranks—Manny's delicatessen announced they were moving to Arlington Heights and shifting to a vegetarian menu, which didn't make it over the skepticism bar—I smiled at the attempt but never believed it for a second. Though Yasso unveiled a mouthwash, which did catch me for a single moment, as I initially mused, "This is an odd brand extension for a line of frozen yogurt bars..." before realizing, "Ohhhhh!"
     Understated seemed the way to go—maybe because reality seems so incredible and distorted that one hesitates before adding to the confusion, even toward a humorous end. My own humble effort, explaining my drift toward becoming the paper's beekeeping reporter, was undersold enough that a number of readers fell for it, which pleased me greatly. But it did require holding my Friday column until today.

     William Blake’s engraving of Laocoon and his sons is what art historians call “busy.”
     OK, I doubt art historians call it that. Doing what journalists call “checking” — consulting the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism — I see the preferred term seems to be “cluttered.”
     So, cluttered, then. Whatever you call it, there’s a lot to unpack. Not just the unlucky Trojan priest, who tried to warn his citymates not to take that large wooden horse into the walls of Troy, and was rewarded by being crushed, along with his sons, by a sea serpent sent by Athena.
     But all that writing, in several languages. A wordy fellow, Blake. Which I guess makes us soulmates. I do go on.
     Though today, I’m only interested in a single line, written perpendicularly in the right margin: “Is not every Vice possible to Man described in the Bible openly?”
     The only honest answer must be a resounding “Yes!” Murder, for starters (Cain). Incest (Lot). Drunkenness (Noah). Selling your brother into slavery (Jacob). Debauchery, cheating, stealing, war. Onan spills his seed. God tortures Job as a lark.
     The whole book is practically one long grindhouse movie. Yet do school boards ban the Bible? Never. Why is that? Maybe because such bans are never about the pretexts supposedly inspiring them.

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"Pity" by William Blake (Metropolitan Museum of Art)


  1. Don't forget Exodus 21.7, where a man can sell his daughter into slavery!
    For much more, go to:

  2. "I comfort myself with the knowledge that the cringing haters have lost."

    In the long run, they've lost. At least one would hope so. But while "The mainstreaming of oppressed races, religions and genders is one of the great moral triumphs of the past century," the recent backlash has been troubling, to say the least, and the way forward is none too clear, especially given a revanchist Supreme Court that will likely hold sway for a generation.

    I don't know about you, but when I think back to the '60s and '70s, I just can't really identify all that many folks I knew that I could have imagined morphing into Fox News viewers. Some, sure, but not enough to hamstring the nation. Yet, here we are. Roe vs. Wade, all but overturned. The slippery slope that the right always goes on about now sliding in the other direction: from abortion to contraception, of all things. Did you ever think that contraception would be a debatable topic in this country in 2022? The guy that just said that the lawfulness of mixed-race marriages should be a matter for states to decide. Holy moly!

    The haters sure aren't acting like they've lost, and they are more than willing to cheat in order to win. Though I realized that many were uncomfortable with President Obama (for some obscure reason), even watching it unfold it was hard to believe that inflicting the Biggest Loser upon us would be their revenge. And that they (and he) would actually get away with it. There's a lot of talk about how the election in November is gonna flip the Congress, and then what might happen is too gruesome to contemplate.

    "But at least we know," indeed.

  3. If the Republicans take both houses, all we will have to lean on is Biden's veto pen.


  4. Art Spiegelman made what I thought was a very astute comment on MSNBC about the Tennessee nonsense. He said the reason many people dislike "Maus" is not because it's a Holocaust story, but because it's not an uplifting one, with heroes who grow as people. Spiegelman's father was courageous and resourceful, but also a stubborn pain in the ass who thought nothing of, say, showing bigotry toward Black people.


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