Friday, November 21, 2003

I've long been impatient with what i call "the argument from silence", both in Bible studies and other areas of life involving some reference text. It goes like this:

  1. Person X posits an unlikely and unsupported Bible interpretation, "the X theory"
  2. I respond with, "well, what's the evidence to support your theory?"
  3. X responds with, "it never says that didn't happen!"

Of course, there are an infinite number of things a particular text doesn't say. I think you can only make this kind of argument if first you establish that there's a strong reason to that X should/would have been addressed, and despite that, there is only silence. For example, Jesus dealing with the woman caught in adultery (John 7:538:11): as the people ask him to pronounce sentence on her, he continues to write in the dust in a situation where many would strongly expect a teacher to speak out. (and eventually he does, though not in the way they expect)

But this comes up in all sorts of other contexts. "Jesus never said homosexuality was wrong, only Paul did": yes, because virtually every person in Jesus' audience wouldn't have questioned that belief, any more than their belief that infanticide or rape was wrong (other topics that Jesus never addressed)

This has a funny echo in AKMA's piece: how do we know that Jesus wasn't half-man, half-dolphin? (in response to a discussion he led on the Da Vinci Code, and people's persistence in wanting to believe that Jesus was married despite all evidence to the contrary)

10:45:39 AM #  comment []

Donna pointed me to the Brick Testament, whose author is using Legos to illustrate stories from the Bible, posting pictures of them on his website. Even the peculiar characteristics of Legos, with their painted-on faces and clothes, and limited poses, do something interesting to bring the stories to life, and some of the scenes are rather charming. Here's a depiction of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew from their fishing to follow him as disciples.

But not all his pictures are so nice. The author (Brendan Powell Smith) is an illustrator, and many of his earlier cartoons (also available on the web) are not only not Christian, but highly disrespectful to God and disdainful of faith. And his Brick Testament bears this out: for example, some of the captions from his series on the Old Testament law are "When to Marry your Sister-in-Law", and "When to follow your own moral compass" (set against Deut 28:19-20, an injunction against disregarding God's law). He goes out of his way to include provocative illustrations of sexual behavior (if you can call Legos provocative!).

So here's the ironic thing. Now he's published a children's book from his Brick Testament (apparently without the more explicit parts, thankfully), whose Amazon sales rank is just below 1000. So his use of children's toys to illustrate the Bible has lifted him from obscurity to a new level of commercial success, despite the fact that he himself puts no stock in the Book at all!

10:13:55 AM #  comment []