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Please feel free to weigh in. In your religion, does your holy book appear in the pews/aisles/shelves at your version of Mass? As you know I am Catholic and I cannot remember any time in my entire life seeing a Bible or even just a New Testament in a church.

As an additional thought this Sunday, I think that if I were the pastor of a parish I would create a really terrific reading room/library for my parishoners (and the community at large) that includes all kinds of popular and religious magazines and periodicals, many copies of Papal Encyclicals, videos, etc. Would I turn it into a hip coffee shop? Maybe not, but clearly there is room for some entrepreneurship here and at the same time use such entrepreneurship to improve the education of one’s constituents. On a slightly more cynical day I would offer up my hypothesis why I don’t see Catholic libraries and reading rooms proliferating, but not today. Please share your thoughts.

7 Responses to “Sunday Morning Ponderances”

  1. Andrew says:

    Northeast Canada, Anglican: Everyone gets a copy of the book of common prayer and a hymn book before entering the nave.

  2. Speedmaster says:

    Roman Catholic here, Rarely a bible. But several parishes have very small libraries of titles/books to borrow or even buy.

  3. Tom Davis says:

    Growing up Baptist outside of Charlotte, NC there were no bibles in the pews (just hymnals) until I was in my teens. Everyone had their own bible and generally brought it to worship service (baptists also have a Sunday School with classes for everyone). During my teens (in the 80s) some bibles began to appear as more newcomers began coming to our church who did not bring their own.

    I currently attend services at a member church of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, and have never seen a bible in the pews.

    I think your timing might be a bit off. These days, people aren’t so pressed for reading material that they would want to use a reading room. You would be better off starting a Web-site reading room with weekly selections and links to Amazon/Barns-and-Noble for current books, and downloadable ebooks for books out of copyright.

    The media center at the church I grew up in is primarily used by parents of young children who can check out many children’s books and sometimes check out books for themselves at the same time.

  4. wintercow20 says:

    My WordPress is driving readers crazy! I apologize. This is from Mike Marotta:

    It is an article of theology that translations (even St. Jerome’s Vulgate) are only guides to the Revealed Word of God. The only works which are RWG are the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. We like to make fun of Protestants by chiming in that “the King James Version was good enough for Saint Paul, and it is good enough for me.” So, the Catholic Church does not provide Bible or even encourage their reading as any (every?) such edition has unknown errors that can lead you astray. If you have a question about faith, ask your priest.

    In the late Middle Ages, as literacy improved and contact with the Levant increased, many literate people, clerics and laity alike, learned Hebrew and Greek and published their own glosses on Biblical passages. (Close relations with growing Jewish communities as at Champagne and Frankfurt made Hebrew more accessible.) The problem, of course, was that not everyone was right. Thus, the Inquisition was required to examine texts. (They did not punish people. That is not what the Inquisition was for. It was to identify heresies, not heretics.)
    Bible Gateway (here) is a powerful tool for exploring those many – 100 offered – translations. Where they agree, you get a sense of it, but where they disagree, only trouble lurks.

    (EconLog’s Bryan Caplan suggested an Intellectual Turing Test on economics. One of his Yalies, Leah Librisco, has a blog “Unequally Yoked” and she ran an Intellectual Turing Test on Atheism and Christianity. I always thought that I was an atheist, but I was outed as a faker, so now, I am in a crisis of disbelief.)

  5. Alex says:

    Mike Marotta is way too generous: translations are not GUIDES (we wish that were true); they are, in every respect, INTERPRETATIONS of the original text. The theological interpretations of the translator, of course.

  6. Dan says:

    Latter Day Saint (Mormon) here. We typically have a hymn book in the pews and its more or less expected that everyone bring their own scriptures (Bible and Book of Mormon). Generally their is a library in the building with extra copies of scriptures and lots of other church produced materials.

  7. Jim says:

    I grew up in the Baptist church; the King James Version (along with Hymnals) was in the pews, and generally everyone brought their own Bible. As an adult, in a Presbyterian Church, every pew had a bible and Hymnals. The bible could be New King James, Revised Standard Version or New RSV. There was not the rock-solid loyalty to the King James Version.

    My mother was a convert from Roman Catholicism to Fundamentalist Protestantism. She always faulted the Roman Catholic church for not making the Bible more accessible, and its reliance on ceremony and saint-intercessors, instead of prayer. I found this persuasive because I thought of the Bible as a “source document”, not to be confused with treatments or interpretations. As a (non-fundamentalist) adult, I still find it compelling, but now know that the Bible itself is a product of choice and editing.

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