As loyal, beloved readers of this blog might know, I am no authority on the Bible. That is, I know the Bible is the book everyone quotes and no one reads -- but that's about the extent of my knowledge.
So today's blog post might be a wee bit out of my league -- in much the same sense that my attempting to dog paddle across the Pacific Ocean might be a wee bit out of my league -- because I intend to discuss how the Bible should be interpreted.
Never mind that I don't know how the Bible should be interpreted. Never mind that I haven't even read the thing. And never mind that I only got it into my head a couple hours ago that I should have an opinion about how it should be interpreted. No, never mind any of that.
None of those things matter because I'm an American. And -- as even I know -- Americans, with a little help from the British, all but invented the custom of interpreting the Bible literally. At least, that's what my professors used to tell me. The notion the Bible should be interpreted literally was invented -- mostly by Americans -- during the 1800s. Before that, you have nearly 2000 years of Biblical scholarship in which almost no one with a brain seriously thought the Bible was to be taken literally.
But today, 3 in 10 Americans interpret the Bible literally, saying it is the actual word of God.
The above is proof Americans have da balls. No other people -- except for a few Brits (who probably don't count anyway, since they lost the Revolutionary War) -- have had the courage to tell their God that he simply cannot speak metaphorically or symbolically. Go us!
In other words, as an American, I come from a proud tradition of claiming I know all about how to interpret the Bible. And on the firm basis of that tradition, I feel confident that I have the sacred right to tell you and the world how the Bible is to be interpreted. How cool is that?
So, let's put the meat on the table: Should we or should we not interpret the Bible literally?
Well, you'll be relieved to know I have discovered -- after sheer minutes of research -- the one true answer to that question. As it happens, the one true answer is contained in Proverbs 12:19. Anyone who thinks through that passage will surely come to the same conclusion I have: Contra the American tradition, the Bible was not meant to always be taken literally.
The exciting passage reads: "Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment."
Ha! I say, "Ha!", because anyone with a lick of sense knows that passage is false if taken literally. It is only true -- if it is true at all -- if taken symbolically.
QED: I'm right. One hundred million Americans are wrong. The Bible is not always meant to be taken literally. The matter is settled.
Anyone who now wishes to show his or her appreciation for having an authoritative answer to the question, "Should we or should we not interpret the Bible literally?", may send a modest donation of $29.95 to Uncle Sunstone's Refuge for Wayward Dancing Girls. You can be confident your donation will help buy the g-strings those girls desperately need to stay warm at my place during the winter.