Magazine article The Progressive

A Lovely Christmas Gift

Magazine article The Progressive

A Lovely Christmas Gift

Article excerpt

A friend of mine recently told me that when she was in fourth grade she won the statewide Bible Bust. A moderator would cite a chapter and verse and the contestants would all dive into their Bibles to find the passage. She was a biblical whiz kid. Pre-Google! Her prize was some dreamy pale blue Keds.

In the middle of her story, I realized that despite my sixteen years of Catholic education, I had never read the Bible. I loved the onionskin paper and grosgrain ribbon of our family Bible, but I never read it.

Unlike my friend's direct tactile experience of the Bible, my church relied on intermediary translators and interpreters of the Bible, lest we get flummoxed by all the begots, begats, and bigots.

I spent the elementary years memorizing the asterisked questions in the Baltimore Catechism. In junior high, we read stories of teen martyrs to learn Christian comportment. I don't remember high school; I was in an emotional blackout trying not to become the abominator I knew I was. In college, it was the urbane, and much condemned, Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin all the way, and there were bite-sized portions of New Testament stories woven into mass during the liturgical year.

So, I'm no biblical scholar, but I have always liked stories about Jesus. He was a game-changer. Back in the day, I probably would have been on his Facebook fan page. I certainly would have noticed a change in his marital status. As have Vatican scholars, after Harvard scholar Karen King's recent announcement of the discovery of a papyrus fragment that includes the phrase, "Jesus said to them, my wife. …

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