, Gloucester, MA

August 13, 2013

Letter: Interpreting the Bible — and musical 'Chicago'

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

I am writing in response to Irwin B. Miller’s letter headlined “Slavery and Sabbath for Biblical literalists” (the Times, Monday, Aug. 7).

Yes, I wrote about the performance of the play “Chicago” on Cape Ann. One of my favorite things for the last 40-plus years has been attending theater. I took two semesters of Shakespeare at Southern Vermont College.

My parents lived in Stratford-upon-Avon in England where Willie the Shake hung out. They sent me a complete set of books from there containing all of Shakespeare’s plays — a prize possession of mine. Every summer I never fail to attend “Shakespeare on the Common” in Boston. William’s plays involve lots of murder. Macbeth, Othello, Julius Caesar to name of few.

Did you not understand my objection, Irwin? How a community, Cape Ann, that relentlessly whines about domestic violence against women is behaving hypocritically — performing a play with seductively dressed women singing and dancing about murdering men to gain fame?

We have actors who are teachers, a councilwoman, and a judge director involved in the play. You see no contradiction here?

Hypocrisy equals the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. Out one side of your mouth you lament about male violence toward females; out the other side of your mouth you go on stage to sing songs and speak dialogue trivializing acts of violence and glorifying women who murdered their male lover and male husband.

Mr. Miller, the passages you quoted from Scripture and sarcastic objections you raised are routinely presented by people who have not studied the Bible. So, I’ll do the very best by pointing you to a resource; if you’ve the desire to jettison your cynicism. Please read “How to Understand Your Bible,” by T. Norton Sterrett.

Irwin, please ask yourself a few questions about the Bible and slavery.

Weren’t the Jews slaves in Egypt for 400 years? And in the Book of Exodus don’t we read that God, out of compassion, miraculously delivered them from slavery? (“And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows”). So why would the Jews write a brilliant anthology, the Bible, legitimizing slavery?

As to pigs and the Sabbath, I am a Jewish follower of Jesus. For many years I played flag football every Sunday morning. Sometimes I was the quarterback, so I threw the pigskin. Other times I played wide receiver, and caught the pigskin and ran down the field cradling porky in my arm.

Am I a “literalist”? What do you mean? The Bible has a wonderful diversity of Hebraic literature. Parable, apocalyptic writings, psalms, proverbs, historical narrative, epistles, moral code, gospels, minor prophets, major prophets, etc.

Read the resource suggested above to get a handle on the meaning of your own questions. Best of luck.