Kristin M. Swenson
Kristin Swenson is associate professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is author of Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time (Harper).
It's easy—from the comfort of my desk, where I’m healthy, well fed and securely employed—to experience a sense of "enough," as I wrote last week. It’s easy to champion compassion, justice and peace (what's not to like?), even when it puts me at odds with a few biblical texts.
Security and risk are nothing new. Today's biblical texts deal not with stocks and bonds exactly, but with living in the real circumstances of a difficult and uncertain world while also accepting the possibility of good, of help and support, comfort and security.
A 2007 Kelton Research survey revealed that people know more about what goes into a Big Mac than they do about the Bible; they can name members of the Brady Bunch better than they can name the Ten Commandments. Twelve percent of adults think that Noah’s wife was Joan of Ark, and about half don’t know that the book of Isaiah is in the Old Testament. The situation might have comic possibilities for Jay Leno and other comedians, but for preachers working to craft a biblically based sermon, the situation is confounding. If parishioners can’t follow references to significant people, places or things in the Bible, they may miss or misunderstand the whole message.
- 1 of 3
- next ›