Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.
E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)
Back to main blog
Jane's Blogosphere: blogtrack for Natalie Solent.
( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)
The Old Comrades:
November 2001 December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 August 2007 October 2007 February 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 March 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 October 2009 January 2010 March 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 April 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Not one jot. In Saturday's Times Victoria Hislop writes about her experiences meeting lepers in India. Heartwarming stuff. That leprosy is not, contrary to popular belief, particularly infectious and is curable is a message well worth repeating. It would be hard to disagree with passages like this:
I met many who were less “lucky”; for example, the case of someone who had ignored early signs and in whom the disease had taken hold. He was 20 and had several large, numb skin patches and when I held his arm I felt the tell-tale rope-textured thickening of the nerve down his forearm. I suspected that his delay in seeing a doctor was the result not merely of lack of education but also of denial. His first thoughts on diagnosis had been: “How will my family react? Will my neighbours shun me?” In this patient, I saw how dangerous stigma can be, almost as destructive as the disease itself.But then came this:
In the Bible, Leviticus xiii and xiv detail how someone with leprosy should be treated, that he should cry: “Unclean, unclean” and live alone outside his community. Leprosy was believed to be a punishment from God but, even though we know that it is just great misfortune, the stigma remains, even today. I’d like to see those pages removed from every copy of the Bible.Er, why? What good does she think this somewhat drastic step might do? I grant you, the passages concerned are not quite in accord with modern clinical practice but is there a special problem with Christians excluding lepers these days? Rather the contrary, I would have thought. She says herself that 70% of sufferers live in India, a mainly Hindu country. I do not seek to claim that this fact is an example of cause and effect, merely that it is a fact, and that ministry and assistance to lepers has been if anything a Christian speciality. As it ought to be, given Jesus's own actions.
Has Ms H really considered the practical difficulties involved in her proposals? As the Soviets found out, the trouble with excising bits of reference books is that it leaves embarrassing gaps that have to be filled somehow. When Beria fell purchasers of the Soviet Encyclopedia were sent an article about the Bering Straits with strict instructions to paste it in; when Krushchev fell in turn his monument was an article about the krushchev, a beetle. In order to achieve a complete obliteration of the offending Biblical sentiments Ms Hislop would have to extend the blue pencil to numerous other mentions of how the LORD smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And why stop with lepers? (Come to think of it, why stop with several houses, as John Prescott might say? Sorry. No self discipline. Couldn't resist.) As many reformers have observed the Good Book is chock-full of stonings and sexism and stuff: get rid of all that and the Bible would be so much nicer. The only problem is that it would not, unfortunately, be the Bible. Look, when Waitrose sends round a Faulty Product Notice announcing that traces of nuts have been uncovered in batch #1234-Z of its strawberry-flavoured caviare and offering a replacement or a refund, 99% of customers ignore it. I really don't think you are going to get a better response rate when half the customers regard the product as the unalterable Word of God.
It won't just be the Christians refusing to put their scripture in the pre-paid envelope provided, either. The first five books of the Christian Old Testament are also the Jewish Torah, and the Jews have a bit of a reputation for being stubborn about these things. Deuteronomy 4:2:
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Despite all this, you know, leper colonies are not found in modern Israel. I guess the Jews, like the Christians, have found ways of reconciling Leviticus with a world in which there are drugs for leprosy - did you know that thalidomide of all things works wonders? - even without a scissors being taken to anyone's holy book.
If Ms Hislop is by any chance a Christian, perhaps she ought to be advised that her proposed censorship would not have met with Jesus's approval. And that disapproval was recorded in a section that it would be particularly difficult to edit down without anyone noticing: the Sermon on the Mount.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.