Over at Religion in American History, David W. Stowe offers a dispatch from last week’s “Bible in the Public Square” conference at Duke in which he asks if I have ever considered running for political office.
No thanks. I think I will stick to blogging.
Here are a few snippets from Stowe’s entertaining summary:
Politics was a concern throughout, from a session on the Bible and America’s Founding Era, which included a stem-winding talk from John Fea (Has this man ever considered running for office? He’s got the stature and vocal chops to make a fine congressman at the very least), who took on the work of David Barton, explaining that though the American Revolution was surely drenched in Biblical language the literalists were actually on the Loyalist side. Shalom Goldman delivered a paper on “God’s American Israel,” which detailed the centuries-long American fascination with the Hebrew language and tropes (not so much actual Jews), evidenced most strikingly in Mormonism. “If Israel hadn’t been created,” Goldman asserted, “the U.S. would have had to invent it.”
The longest session focused on the Bible and Popular Culture. Adele Reinhartz focused on the Bible in Hollywood, speaking mainly of DeMille’s The Ten Commandments and the 2007 film In the Valley of Elah. David Morgan examined the Bible as material artifact in people’s lives. As the Bible has been gradually excised from school classrooms over the 20th century, the flag and Pledge of Allegiance have been substituted in as sacralized objects/rituals (though that hasn’t ended the ongoing struggle to get the Bible into the public square). Reviewing the way in which Bible stories like Cain and Abel have been represented in Christian comic books (chiefly the “Brick Testament” in which Bible scenes are created from Legos), Reuben Dupertuis argued that these texts function as translations, which generally work to domesticate stories from unfamiliar contexts, i.e. 1200 B.C .E., but sometimes to “foreignize” them. My own talk presented my ongoing research on Psalm 137 as America’s longest-running protest song.