December 26, 2008

Good Book review: how to bring Andy Warhol, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Green Revolution, and Moses all together [Green Bible, The Book]

You could say I am somewhat of a Biblical bibliophile so I was overjoyed this fall to see two intriguing new additions to the world of Tanakhs, Testaments, and Qur’ans. The first comes from the green revolution. A slim unassuming, cotton-lined book called The Green Bible (NRSV). The text is printed on recycled paper and highlights over 1,000 biblical verses referring directly to the earth. For those concerned, the ink used for printing is soy based and the book employs a water-based coating. As to content, I thumbed through and read some random green highlights. I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and mildew and hail, the text from Haggai 2:17 reads, yet you did not return to me, says the Lord.

To my mind the Bible has never been blatantly environmental, in English versions it even proclaims the dominion of humanity over the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). One must read the Hebrew to find out that the original intention of those passages came from an understood symbiotic relationship. Many of the ‘green’ quotes, like the one above, are reachy. At times it seems as though the editors were desperate to find verses of good quality greenery. Perhaps the most striking qualities of the book appear in the New Testament when the words of Christ are only highlighted if they refer to the earth or the life springing from it. So in essence, the voice of the earth becomes the voice of God. When all is said and done I hope The Green Bible will demonstrate more clearly the essential role earth plays in this whole cosmic funhouse. Especially the interconnected nature of the eminent and transcendent plains of existence. The divine after all needs some place to play and we need some place to live.

Next up, Bible Illuminated-The Book: The New Testament, an illuminated version of the New Testament (Good News Translation). Well it’s illuminated. And the first illumination is a large block white on black letters screaming:

The painting is by Andy Warhol. Flip The Book open and you see Bono smiling wryly, then Katrina devastation, a man self-immolating, children staring into the illuminated haze of computer screens, and the list goes on. Another interesting twist is how the Gospel of Mark concludes with a list of famous philanthropists, humanists, and advocates for peace, from John Lennon and Al Gore to Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama. Revelation is grisly, illuminated by butchered animals, oil spills, heaps of smoking steel, and filthy clouds of burning coal, but then it’s revelation so what do you expect? The Book is effective and beyond any doubt captivating as a piece of artistic juxtaposition, great for the coffee table or show and tell. One of my favorite passages is from I Corinthians which reads: You should not fool yourself. If any of you think that you are wise by this world’s standards, you should become a fool, in order to be really wise. Illustrating the passage is Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing his enormous biceps. Chew on that for a while.

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