Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bible illiteracy

The Bible has dropped out of common cultural currency. Even principle biblical characters and stories are no longer widely known.  So runs the argument about biblical literacy, and its wrong says Dr Katie Edwards. In fact, says Edwards, biblical motifs are everwhere in advertising. Indeed biblical images are particularly prominent in adverts directed at younger people which suggests that their designers believe such images readily connect with the young. Far from being biblically illiterate the 'old, old story' still has an impact on the young. Those who bemoan the silencing of the Bible in contemporary culture have got it wrong, according to Edwards. The cultural pessmists have got it wrong because they are looking in the wrong places and don't give sufficient regard or value to popular culture. The biblical illiteracy argument is one produced out of a certain cultural elitism that doesn't take anything 'pop' seriously.

Dr Edwards made her  case strongly at a presentation at the College of Preachers national conference on 18 June. A quick Google search seems to support her contention that biblical images are everythere in adverts. This one came up with just a couple of clicks. Adam and Eve, Mary, Jesus, and other references do abound. And yes, they often do seem to be directed towards people of 30 and under, so someone somewhere knows that they connect. Certainly it is too easy to dismiss the power of some biblical motifs, and the church is reticent about putting those motifs 'out there' in ways that readily connect. Respectful hesitance is perhaps a a screen for cultural elitism. I'm not sure, however, that the prevalence of a relatively few biblical motifs, however frequently repeated, necessarily overturns the observation that the cultural memory of the Bible is fading fast in contemporary Western society. I need to know more and look forward to learning more of Dr Edwards' analysis. What a great event the College of Preachers conference is.

1 comment:

the Jog said...

This sounds interesting, though I am not sure about it. Does it mean that the Bible has a rich store of evocative images - bit like Google or Getty? Does the text become compromised so it can only be read throu the Smirnoff label? Dangerous thing,this creative commons.