Sunday, March 06, 2011

Bizarre news from the modern religion front

From the New York Times, news of an edition of the Bible annotated solely with C.S. Lewis quotations:
The Lewis Bible, available in cloth (18,000 copies sold since its November debut) or leather (6,000), shares a recycling genre with “A Year with C. S. Lewis,” a collection of 365 Lewis readings, which since 2003 has sold 200,000 copies.

The new Bible splices in quotations from Lewis’s books and unpublished papers. For example, in Genesis, next to the story of Noah’s drunkenness, appears an excerpt from a 1955 letter to one Mrs. Johnson. “One can understand,” it reads in part, “the bitterness of some ‘temperance’ fanatics if one has ever lived with a drunkard.” But, Lewis suggests, teetotalers are wrong if they write alcohol out of the Bible.

To the Book of Matthew, where Jesus denounces the outwardly but not truly religious, there is added a quotation from “Mere Christianity”: “How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious?” They are “worshiping an imaginary God.”

Mr. Maudlin became an evangelical Protestant after reading Lewis in college. “But you meet Mormons or Catholics, and their favorite author might be C. S. Lewis,” he said.

One can understand Mr. Maudlin’s worries about marketing Lewis, who habitually overshadows books he loved, like the Bible. The problem will only grow in May, when Lewis’s unfinished translation of the “Aeneid” appears, or in 2012, when C.S. Lewis College opens in Northfield, Mass.
“He would be uncomfortable if it were sold as a personality cult, or him as mentor or guru,” Mr. Maudlin said of Lewis, whose name looms larger than the word “Bible” on the book’s cover. “So we had to make it dignified.”

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