Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Pagans Of The Right

It all could be a joke, an elaborate ruse intended to make liberals look ridiculous as we ridicule what is almost too astonishing to be real.

But I'll play along. Wikipedia describes conservapedia as "an English-language wiki-based Web encyclopedia project written from an Americentric, conservative Christian and predominantly young earth creationist point of view." Conservapedia's own website announces the "Conservative Bible Project" to counter the "Liberal bias (which) has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations." The Bible will be rewritten re-translated according to these ten guidelines:

1.Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias

2.Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity

3.Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]

4.Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".

5.Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots";[5] using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census

6.Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
7.Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning

8.Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story

9.Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels

10.Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

Conservapedia describes the Bible conventional translations of the Bible as "liberal falsehood," "dishonestly shrewd," and "socialism." (Wouldn't this be "liberal falsehoods," "dishonest shrewdeness," and "socialism"; or "falsely liberal," "dishonestly shrewd," and "socialistic"?- oh, never mind.) An example of the latter is use of the "conservative word 'volunteer'" once in the English Standard Version while "the socialistic word "comrade" is used three times, "laborer(s)" is used 13 times, "labored" 15 times, and "fellow" (as in "fellow worker") is used 55 times."

Mike Lux at Open Left notes it is "re-translating the Bible to make it fit better with conservative ideology in which "you find something inconvenient or tricky in a beloved text, just get rid of it. Next up: The Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg Address." Little Green Footballs claims the effort is "a tacit admission that the Bible itself is not the unchangeable, literal word of God, but can be edited as necessary to fit political purposes." Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos contends "these jokes are now setting out to rewrite the Bible to better ratify their own hate and bigotry. It's nothing new for religion -- people have been reinterpreting holy texts from pretty much every religion imaginable to justify all manners of horrors."

Unfortunately, these two views from the left suggest an unfortunate bias against Scripture. Conservapedia's scheme is not "a tacit admission that the Bible is not.... the literal word of God," given that "admission" is the "acknowledgement of the truth of something." And Moulitsas' remark that "people have been reinterpreting holy texts..... to justify all manners of horrors" implies that the thrust of translation of "holy texts" actually has been an effort to justify those horrors. That is, apparently unbeknownst to Moulitsas, not the purpose of the ongoing efforts of biblical translation. While he properly scolds these conservatives for rewriting the Bible to eliminate alleged liberal bias, he carelessly infers they should "adjust their belief structure to better line up with the actual Bible."

No, the right would argue, our belief structure already lines up with the Bible, at least on the matters of abortion and gay rights. That is an arguable proposition, as is the insistence that one's views on 20th century issues should be dictated by words, which do not bear directly on those issues, spoken/written by God/human beings nearly 2000 years ago. Liberals have spent several years, and much emotion, arguing that one's perspective on those things need not be dictated by the biblical interpretation of some scholars and many ideologues.

Nicole Belle at Crooks And Liars, then, is the most judicious, explaining

These right-wing ideologues know better than the early church councils that canonized Scripture? They really think it's wise to force the word of God to conform to a 21st-century American idea of what constitutes conservatism? These jokers don't worship God. They worship ideology.

They are ideologues; coincidentally of a Christian perspective, perhaps not, but clearly individuals who wish to subordinate to political doctrine any religious faith they possess. They have a right to these priorities; still, their project is not an admission that the Bible is not the literal word of God, given that the jury is still out on that issue. Nor should these ideologues be credited with legitimately attempting to forge a translation consistent with their politics. Their goal is not even a literal translation, but apparently a dynamic equivalence, at the expense of accuracy. It is a feeble and inglorious attempt to refute biblical Christianity, wrapped in a misleading vessel.

1 comment:

Dan said...

well this is certainly disturbing...

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