We have so many very great books at our disposal today. Just walk into any Borders book store, or Barnes & Noble or better yet, any library. The selection is astounding and the number of books continues to multiply every single day.
Man has a personal relationship with the written word; whether he writes it or reads it. Someplace, in every person’s life, there will be some book, that has made a lasting impression. We just cannot get away from it.
As we grow and learn new things we are exposed to more and more of these books. Most generally, through our formative years, we have little to say about the selection of many of them. Books are assigned by our teachers or are given to us as gifts or are indirectly related to our course of study and must be read for clarification.
We are always beng told what to read throughout our learning years. These readings are most often ‘required’ reading. If you want to succeed in that particular class then you must read the assigned material. At times, we must even write book reports about it.
What I am getting at is public school has always assigned our reading material. If not a specific book then one of our choice from an identified topic. That arrangement has been met with and worked through since I can remember. Tell me what I have to read, I will read it and I will report on my observations and interpretations.
Through my school years, none of the assigned reading material has ever changed my course in life. I may have been emotionally affected by the topic but I have never become what I read about. My reading of Lord of the Pigs never forced me to re-enact any of the scenes contained within. Reading Treasure Island, though regretabbly, never resulted in my becoming rich. When I was assigned Moby Dick I never had a fleeting thought about running off to sea to search for that one, special whale.
These books all had an effect on my imagination. They let me slip away from my day to day existence and esperience something totally different, but they didn’t change my life. Today, I can still read a good book and not be so intoxicated by the story that I have to live it. A good book is jst that; a good book, nothing more.
In my first year of college I took a class entitled “The Religions of the World.” I was, and still am, a Christian and I was curious about what the author had to say about other religions. I learned about Buddhism, Catholicism, Atheism, the Moslem faith, and several others. The reading of the assigned text never affected my faith. The class wasn’t trying to convert me to any of these different faiths; it was simply exposing me to them.
It was a good class, I learned a lot, but I left the class still a Christian. Incidentally, the class was “offered,” not dictated. It was an elective course. I elected to take it.
So, I look at what we have today, as far as books go. The one book that repeatedly out-sells every single other book ever published is the Bible. It has been estimated that over 6 billion copies of the Bible have been printed and distributed throughout time. This number clearly shadows any other claim to publishing propensity.
Quotations from Mao Tse-tung (little red book) has probably the second largest publishing numbers at 5 billion copies. This number is influenced however by the fact that ownership was mandated for every Chinese adult between 1966 and 1971.
In addition to being the most published and distributed book ever, in history, the Bible has also been published in more languages than any other. It is estimated there are about 6600 languages in the world. The Bible has been translated into about 4000 of those languages. It still has about 2600 languages to go. What is really interesting, though I have never seen one, is that the Bible has even been translated into the Klingon language.
Bottom line, the Bible is a hard rock in the foundation of not only this country but in the entire world. It has permeated almost every culture and sect. It continues to rise in popularity and demand. The Bible is a force not to be trifled with.
Anything as prolific as the Bible should certainly be studied and disected. I absolutely believe classes on the many, many different aspects of the Bible should be offered to our children during their learning years. Notice I said “offered;” I would not agree with forcing any religious text or study on any people through their schooling programs. We can see what dictated religion, sponsored by the governement, does to a nation right now.
Bible classes would be electives. Students could take them if they wanted to, they wouldn’t have to. Of course, the Bible would have to be the assigned text but the class would not be assigned. Do we really think there is so much negative stuff in the Bible that our students would be adversely affected if they were exposed to it?
The Bible is a positive text. It is well written. It is clearly long-lasting. It will be here far after you or I have left. The stories, parables, metaphors and poems, sonnets and songs in the Bible could do so much to enhance any literature class. I absolutely believe the Bible should be offered to our students all through their K – 12 years and even beyond. Remember, it’s offered not assigned and only the study of the writings is offered not the analysis of any related religion. We could do worse by our children than offering them the Bible.