A Modest Proposal
by Richard Houskamp & Randall Bytwerk ____________________________________________
The head of our local library system says that he gets regular requests to remove books with authors ranging from Homer to Dr. Seuss, and from all political directions. Almost any book can trigger or offend someone for some reason.
That got us thinking. Surely one of the most offensive books on any shelf is the Bible. It has something to upset almost anyone. Something has to be done. We need a way to render the Bible safe.
Now, this has been tried in the past. The Catholic Church for hundreds of years tried to keep Scripture out of the hands of the common folk, justifiably fearing it could give them noxious ideas. Thomas Jefferson’s version of the Bible, made by literal cutting and pasting, removed those implausible miracles. The “Slave Bible” omitted awkward passages about slavery.
Most readers today find things in the Bible they do not like. It is sexist, or racist, or too Jewish, or outdated, or hard to understand, or anti-gay, or narrow-minded, or contradictory, or implausible, and so on.
And, of course, the Bible is just too long. Who needs all that repetition in Numbers 7? The Reader’s Digest gave seven editors three years (under Bruce Metzger’s supervision) to reduce the Old Testament by 50% and the New Testament by 25% but still left in things that people would rather not read.
To edit or abbreviate the Bible takes a lot of work. Someone actually has to read it (often dangerous) and decide what should go and what should stay — and people will disagree. In the past this was a problem. Today there is a solution: The Personalized Bible. There is no longer any need to suffer through long genealogies or be offended by difficult passages. Through the miracle of modern technology, everyone can have his or her own Bible guaranteed to omit any unpleasant passages.
Here is how it works. The full texts of all Bible translations are entered into a database. Each passage, nay, each word, is tagged. The user goes to our internet site (https://yourpersonalbible.com/) and is led through a series of questions with many choices. What is your preferred translation? How long would you like your Bible to be (100 - 800,000 words)? What kind of baptism do you favor? What is your view of predestination? How much do you want to read about sin? What are your political views? Does God have a gender? Do you want any possible contradictions removed?
We estimate that it will take the average user three hours to work through our full questionnaire, but after that each person will have a personal Bible that will support everything he or she believes and provides no unsettling passages. When done, Your Personal Bible will be available on all electronic devices in milliseconds.
Through an arrangement with Amazon, a simple click will order a personalized printed Bible in whatever binding and font the customer wishes. For a small additional fee, people may have the illustrations they wish. Should Jesus look Middle Eastern, Asian, Black, or European? How graphic should the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah be? What does the Whore of Babylon look like? Numerous choices are available.
There are other possibilities. Preachers will be able to develop their own recommended edition of the Bible, confident that everything in it will support their ministry (think of the revenue stream!). Those using the Bible for personal evangelism will know the Bibles they pass out will not elicit awkward responses. The market for a “Republican Bible” or a “Democratic Bible” is sure to be enormous. And, if one changes theological or political views, it will be simple to revise the personal Bible to be consistent with new opinions and order the new and improved version.
Some small-minded souls will object, of course. They will claim that God inspired the whole Bible. That is true, but how many people want to read the whole Bible? Whatever is in The Personalized Bible will be part of the Bible. We add nothing, only subtract. Others might claim that confusion will result if John 3:16 in one version of the Bible is different than in another. How will it be possible to cite Scripture texts consistently? That is easily handled through our computer program. Each personalized version will include internal coding that will automatically bring up the appropriate passage in the computer of someone else (this will require a complicated cookie and tracking system). In the event that John 3:16 is not in the other person’s personalized Bible, the system will provide this message: “The recipient has chosen not to read this passage” (we don’t want people to be exposed to texts they find objectionable).
For answers to other objections, read our FAQ (https://yourpersonalbible.com/faq.html/)
We humbly submit that The Personal Bible may not give people the Bible they need, but it will give them the Bible they want.