In “The Merchant of Venice,” Shakespeare’s Antonio warns us, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” That puts reading the Bible into the danger zone. The Catholic Church of my youth took the warning seriously and simply forbade the faithful from reading it. (I suspect because there is too much sex.) The Bible is a thick, complicated and contradictory book, on occasion offering questionable advice, i.e. wives should be subject to their husbands.
Thanks to the Avery Dennison Corporation, inventor of “Hi-Liter”, we are now in the age of the “highlighted Bible.” No need to struggle with all those contradictions, just don’t highlight them.
We can now choose a Bible highlighted by people we agree with and skip all those inconvenient passages. We do not have to read or wrestle with anything we don’t like, thank God.
For instance, I gravitated toward The Poverty and Justice Bible. On the cover is the face of a child and a broken chain. Here’s what the marketing says:
“The publishers of the Poverty and Justice Bible went looking and highlighted almost 3,000 verses in the scriptures to show that God has something to say about injustice and oppression. With bright orange highlighting, a quick glance is all you need to see that God cares about the poor a lot.”
Good thing the highlighting is bright orange, I might have missed them. And I only need to commit to a quick glance to convince myself that God cares about the poor “a lot.”
I flipped through The Green Bible. It is ecologically correct, and here is the reason to buy it:
“The Green Bible will equip and encourage people to see God’s vision for creation and help them engage in the work of healing and sustaining it. With over 1,000 references to the earth in the Bible, compared to 490 references to heaven and 530 references to love, the Bible carries a powerful message for the earth.”
Guess what color ink for the favored passages?
Three thousand references for poverty and justice and only one thousand for the earth. Poverty wins by two thousand! Love loses; heaven comes in last.
My personal favorite is The American Patriot’s Bible. It has the most eye-catching and colorful cover: the American flag waving, the founding fathers signing something, the Washington Monument. The publishers of this Bible are the most ambitious of all. This one proves that the Bible is actually the story of America. This one isn’t actually highlighted. In columns next to the text, the story of America is told, beginning with Adam.
“The American Patriot’s Bible reveals how God has been and will continue to be a part of this great nation.” -Ralph Reed
This helpful trend is not limited to print. According some websites, Adam was white. Not satisfied that God was clear enough on this point, someone added a passage to Genesis stating that Adam was indeed white. Unfortunately, highlighting in white makes the words invisible, so it may not make it to the bookshelves.
Our town had a littering problem recently. Supremely white people threw what is politely called literature on lawns. Those anti-Semites really know how to make a mess. My English-language classes were reading two books at the time: a biography of Anne Frank and one about Rosa Parks. In my head that week, anger and hope wrestled with each other, like they do in the Bible.
This may catch on. I like the idea of Moby Dick highlighted. With a few swipes of a blue highlighter, we could have The Fisherman’s Moby Dick: a short guide to catching the big one. The possibilities are endless.
Right now I can see Dorothy Day and Jerry Falwell fighting over a highlighter in the afterlife. Whichever one wins gets into heaven.