The God-Shaped Hole!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Bible Without Verses?

It takes time and training to learn to ignore the verse numbers, footnote indicators, and reference markers embedded in the text of the Bibles sold today. I am an avid reader; I have been since an early age. Now I want to read the narratives of the Bible as I would read any other book: without interruption, in single-column text.

The only other text I've ever seen with a built-in reference system is Shakespeare's plays, and even then, the reference numbers are in the margins. By contrast, the Phillips translation of the New Testament has verse numbers on the side, due to text recontextualization which resulted in the recombination of several verses into complete thoughts or arguments. The Message was similar, until the Message/remix edition reinserted the verse numbers.

Some Bible software, such as the ESV's WORDSearch software, allows the color of various categories of text to be altered. Turning the verse numbers the same color as the background effectively removes the verse numbers. But there are still gaps.

The verse system also makes the Bible's texts seem more uniform than they really are. The Bible is an anthology of books and letters written by forty different authors from similar but changing cultures, over a period of at least 1500 years. The literary styles include poetic narrative, historical narrative, poetry, philosophy, prophecy, law, ethics, and advice on how to live wisely.

The Books Of The Bible is a reformat of the Today's New International Version which tries to address these concerns. It formats poetry as poetry, and the rest as single-column text. It places footnotes at the end of each book, instead of at the bottoms of the pages. It puts the chapters and verses in an unobtrusive corner of the page.

But I want the English Standard Version or the New King James translation of the text formatted this way. Even if it's just available by special order, I would buy it. I would give it without reservation or preface to an unbeliever. I would also buy giveaway paperback gospels I could give to people I meet who need God's Word in their lives.

Accessibility is the key here, folks. Accessibility for people not yet trained by time to ignore the constant, nagging verse count. Accessibility for people whose brains won't allow them to ignore the embedded footnote markers. Accessibility for children more sensitive to the tedium of ignoring the language they've worked so hard to acquire. Accessibility for the unchurched, who would probably be more interested in a slightly annotated narrative than an encyclopedia of cross-references.

Would you buy such an edition?

EDIT: It's being published in May 2014!  Praise God!  ESV Reader's Edition


Sorry anonymous commenters

...But due to a spam attack on my comments, which for some reason Blogger won't let me erase, I've enabled a higher level of comment security. I always hate it myself when a blog does this, but I do hope you blame the spammers, not me.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Let Me Blow Your Mind

Indulge me in this moment of geekery.

You already know that the Wraith in Stargate Atlantis are Space Vampires. But did you realize that the Goa'uld are Space Mummies? They come back from the dead, live a long time, and command legions.

A bit of a stretch, I know. But here's where I blow your mind.

The Borg are Space Zombies.

They inject you with nanites, you become one of them. Slow, shambling, and bad news in big mobs.

I was watching an episode of ST:TNG called "Descent" in which Data is brought to Lore so that the sons of Soong can destroy the Federation. In this episode, Lore hacks Data so Data feels emotions. He feels anger, rage, when a Borg tries to kill him, and after he has slain the Borg with his inhuman strength, Data feels pleasure.

Lore is Frankenstein's monster, and Data is the noble version of the monster.

Minds blown?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Looking For An Old Butcher

The Hero's Journey is the blueprint for every halfway decent story. Like appreciation for rainbows and power chords, it's instinctual. It's built into our brains. It runs our lives, if we let it.
But the Hero's Journey gives us certain expectations of the world around us, which usually don't happen. Because we've been raised on these tales, we expect to be given the rules when we enter a new situation, a realm of experience new to us, and we freeze up if nobody does. We expect to fail, because we know the transformative nature of the Night Journey. However, not everyone finds the Sword Of Light in their Night Journey. Some people stay in darkness for a very long time.
Today, I'm going to talk about the old butcher. According to Merlin Mann, he's the guy who's been a butcher for forty years, and if you're his apprentice and you call out for two and a half pounds of roast beef, you'll get exactly that. When you put it on the scale, it's not an ounce over or under. You keep practicing, and someday you'll be him; in the meantime, he'll teach you the little things that, while they don't really make sense, they make work flow so much easier.
He's a master of his trade or art, and he's your mentor. The universe provides one for each hero.
That's what we think, because of the Hero's Journey. In reality, we need to actively seek these people out and ask them to teach us, and DO WHAT THEY SAY, because we're not storybook heroes, we're just people. The universe doesn't follow our private story arc.

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