It takes more than a bible verse to “build character”

But, try telling that to the folks eager to advertise the first annual Bible Bee.

Bible Bee

I mentioned this back in November but now there’s more information about the contest.

The goal of the Bible Bee is to build godly character in young people by calling them back to the lost discipline of Scripture memorization. Most people are familiar with the Scripps National Spelling Bee, where youth compete annually in the Nation’s longest-running educational contest. While it is certainly beneficial for our children to commit the spelling of words to memory, imagine how much more life-changing it will be for them to memorize the Word of God.

Local Bible Bee Contests will be conducted throughout the United States on Saturday, September 12, 2009. One hundred finalists from each of three age categories will then advance to the National Bible Bee for a two-day, world-class competition which will be held in Washington D.C. on November 5-6, 2009.

The grand prize is $100,000, which is no small chunk of change. That said, it takes more than drilling a phrase into one’s head to change one’s life. If that were true, I could be a scholar of Shakespeare now. We had to drill Shakespeare in English, memorizing entire soliloquies and then reproducing them on paper for a grade. Let’s see what I can remember without cheating:

She should have died hereafter
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace from day to day
to the last syllables of recorded time
and all our yesterdays are something something
something something
something something
something something
The world’s a stage and all the people merely players…

How’d I do? Let’s go find the real one, shall we?

She should have died hereafter.
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Pretty shitty. Too bad this SparkNotes place didn’t exist when I was in school.

These words are uttered by Macbeth after he hears of Lady Macbeth’s death, in Act V, scene v, lines 16–27. Given the great love between them, his response is oddly muted, but it segues quickly into a speech of such pessimism and despair—one of the most famous speeches in all of Shakespeare—that the audience realizes how completely his wife’s passing and the ruin of his power have undone Macbeth. His speech insists that there is no meaning or purpose in life. Rather, life “is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.” One can easily understand how, with his wife dead and armies marching against him, Macbeth succumbs to such pessimism. Yet, there is also a defensive and self-justifying quality to his words. If everything is meaningless, then Macbeth’s awful crimes are somehow made less awful, because, like everything else, they too “signify nothing.”

And, since he was but a “poor player” on a stage himself that makes Shakespeare also an idiot.. Um, well, maybe not.

To get back to the point of my article, I’ll quote one last bit of the Scottish Play here:

But in these cases
We still have judgement here, that we but teach
Bloody instructions which, being taught, return
To plague th’inventor.

The bible is very full of sound and fury and judgment and bloody instructions. What part of the bible are these parents hoping their kids will take to heart, the sweet “Jesus loves everybody” parts or the gory “Yay! God massacred another million people for being human beings” parts?

It takes more than remembering a few good words to become good people. Surely that’s obvious by now. It’s not enough to know the words.

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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2 Responses to It takes more than a bible verse to “build character”

  1. KraftyKeri says:

    I completely agree with this now. But as a christian I was taught that there was a magical power in god’s word, and that just reciting verses could change people’s hearts. Christians really do believe that the words themselves have magical powers. I used to… but now I see how silly it is. They never worked like they were supposed to for me.

  2. 1minionsopinion says:

    That was my take on it, also. I did the whole youth bible getaway thing, did the whole tears and crying and taking jesus into my heart business..that weekend, anyway. It makes a big difference when you’re surrounded by like-minded souls feeling and doing the same things. Afterwards, when I wasn’t around them anymore, the feeling of connection faded, the experience lost its impact.

    I’ve been in churches listening to speakers who really make the Word come alive and I’ve felt that pull, that anchor which holds people in that mindset. But, the thing about anchors is that they also don’t let you move forward or change direction.

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