Reading the Bible Without Stopping April 17, 2011

Reading the Bible Without Stopping

It sounds like a wasted weekend to me, but members of the First Christian Reformed Churches in Sheboygan and Oostburg decided to read the entire Bible out loud, non-stop, until they were done. It took each church three days.

In 2008, First Christian Reformed in Oostburg had 107 people take turns reading the Bible. This year, [church elder Joel] VanEss read alongside three of his children, who are second-, sixth- and eighth-graders at Oostburg Christian.

Everyone reads from an oversized New International Version of the Bible which rests on the pulpit of the church. Each person takes a shift of 15 to 30 minutes — some more.

“When one individual is done reading the segment they signed up for, you are just continuing where they left off … they will walk and stand next to you and watch where you are reading as you point with your finger. As soon as they stop they start,” Kate [Hendrikse] said.

Reader Chris brought this story to my attention, adding: “Let’s just hope it wasn’t an 8-year-old girl that had to read one of the many stories of rape.”

One commenter on the Sheboygan Press’ website shared the same thoughts:

So wait…they read the whole Bible, start to finish without editing out the rape, murder, genocide, incest, homophobia, racism, torture, etc., and they did this with children present? I’m sorry, but I don’t care if they are God’s words or the words of Mickey Mouse, there are certain things young ears simply should not have to hear.

You know if they had to read about these things in a book for English class, Christian parents would be calling for censorship. But it’s all ok if the Bible contains it.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Brice Gilbert

    I imagine when you just read it straight through as a mindless endurance test you don’t notice much or retain anything.

  • Ed

    It is the most unbelievable Labyrinth of twisted folklore I have ever tried to read without getting confused.

  • Barbara

    They may have read it, but how many were actually listening to it? 😛

  • I imagine that after completing Genesis, it starts to get so completely boring that people forget to pay attention.

    “Blah, blah, mumble, King so-and-so, blah, mumble, villagers were smited, blah, blah…” *turns page*

    I’d have to bring a book to read to survive the soul-deadening boredom—a different book from the bible, that is.

  • Here’s a idea – let’s have a bible read-a-thon, too. Only we’d have to point out all of the obvious contradictions as we run across them. Think of the awareness we could spread. 🙂

  • mike

    I wish more of them would do this. Maybe then they would come to realize that the bible is a profoundly mediocre book, probably at 3am when eating creepy things that creepeth is being prohibited.

    When I was a kid, I thought church was boring. If my church had done this, I would have become an atheist much sooner.

    Seriously, we live in an adrenalin junky era and that is their approach?

  • L.Long

    There is a basic difference between reading about rape, murder, genocide, incest, homophobia, racism, torture, etc. in the buyBull and in a novel. When I read or listened to the buyBull as a kid I did not understand what they were even talking about. That’s why the buyBull has never been translated into modern english, it would need a XXX rating on the cover. Of course it should have it now.

  • Roxane

    @Susi–You want to point out ALL of them?? It would take weeks!

    Or maybe we could read the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, with all the notes.

  • I did this in college. I read the Song of Solomon. Hot, steamy, biblical porn.

  • one year in Div school, i was invited to speak in the chapel with a group of prominent af-am preachers from the civil right period, during a xtian ceremony. the passage they picked for me? the part in the OT about bashing babies heads because they didn’t believe.

    if there is any moment in my life i can say made me an atheist, it was that one. because i felt so fake and hateful, and didn’t want to. the “lord” wants to kill babies and bash their heads on rocks? um, no, i’m not worshipping that.

  • Steve

    The Bible should come with a warning label:

    http://totalobscurity.com/wp-content/images/BibleWarning.jpg

  • I grew up in Oostburg, WI. Trust me, there’s not much to do there so I doubt this was boring :).

  • BTW I should also state that this was the same town where some people would slow down in their cars and stare at my dad who DARED cut the grass on a Sunday afternoon on his riding lawnmower … drinking a beer no less! 🙂

  • Carlie

    Brice has it right – we used to do this at weeklong church camp, have someone reading out loud 24/7. Nobody even paid attention to what they were reading, and if I recall correctly it was a KJV so most of it didn’t make sense if you weren’t paying close attention anyway. Seemed like no matter what time/day block I signed up for, I always ended up somewhere in the begats.

  • Raven

    You know if they had to read about these things in a book for English class, Christian parents would be calling for censorship. But it’s all ok if the Bible contains it.

    I was thinking along the same lines… it is ok to read biblical accounts of rape and the murder of babies in front of young children… but we dare not say the word “uterus” in front of teenagers?

  • Drew M.

    That’s why the buyBull has never been translated into modern english, it would need a XXX rating on the cover.

    You’re kidding, right? There are several modern English translations, both literal and dynamic.

    Then again, you actually think “buybull” is clever…

  • An Observer

    You know if they had to read about these things in a book for English class, Christian parents would be calling for censorship. But it’s all ok if the Bible contains it.

    I was thinking along the same lines… it is ok to read biblical accounts of rape and the murder of babies in front of young children… but we dare not say the word “uterus” in front of teenagers?

    I’ve always wondered, if we were to have such quotes in public areas, or to make things more interesting, pictures depicting depicting said quotes, would the True American Christians™ defend their bible, or censor their bible?

  • Laura

    I second Jason Bock’s comments above. My husband grew up in Sheboygan and his Dad still lives in Oostburg. None of this surprises me in the least. It’s a whole other century up there.

  • Darryl

    I would recommend that churches wishing to cover the whole scope of the Bible in an entertaining way ought to present their flocks with the Brick Testament – it’s adorable and pulls no punches in its depictions of atrocity and barbarism.

    http://www.thebricktestament.com/

  • littlejohn

    Christians don’t seem to be bothered by violence or even slavery. But I would have loved to have been there when some prim schoolmarm had to read the Song of Solomon. That must have been a hoot.

  • littlejohn

    My lover’s breasts are like fauns… I don’t even know what that means, but it sounds sexy.

  • I don’t know. I might have to dis agree with you on this one. More knowledge is a good thing.

    For several years, I’ve believed had I read the entire Bible all the way through when I was younger, I’d have become an Atheist earlier (I thin someone else said this above). Too often I quote to a believer something from the Bible and they look at me with skepticism or even disbelief. Let people’s religious education move beyond Noah’s story and straight into 1 Timothy.

    And everyone else here nails it: most people (and kids) will tune it out and brag to their friends that they made it through. But there might just be one attentive person who says, “Wait a second…….”

  • I don’t know. I might have to disagree with you on this one. More knowledge is a good thing.

    For several years, I’ve believed had I read the entire Bible all the way through when I was younger, I’d have become an Atheist earlier (I thin someone else said this above). Too often I quote to a believer something from the Bible and they look at me with skepticism or even disbelief. Let people’s religious education move beyond Noah’s story and straight into 1 Timothy.

    And everyone else here nails it: most people (and kids) will tune it out and brag to their friends that they made it through. But there might just be one attentive person who says, “Wait a second…….”

  • Sarah

    If this was a straight Bible reading and not a “let’s-stop-and-analyze-each-verse-into-what-our-version-of-Christianity-thinks-you-should-believe-it-really-means” then yeah, go for it. Do you know how many Christians haven’t read their own good book? Do you know how many Christians go to Bible study classes, only to have the priest/pastor tell them that what they are reading must be interpreted beyond the actual text? Hopefully someone was listening. Hopefully some child WAS listening and is horrified and stops believing in a supernatural being and starts believing in themselves. Kids are smarter and less tolerant of lies than they used to be.

  • Jeebus

    Send them all on a visionquest and see what happens. Put them all in a cave with some peyote, some Pink Floyd and the Buybull. Just for fun.

  • walkamungus

    Urk. Reminds me of various BritLit “fun” out-loud read-throughs people tried to seduce me into: “We’ll read Wordsworth’s _The Prelude_ (all 12 books) out loud…” “…Shakespeare’s tragedies…” “…Dickens’ _Bleak House_…”

    You do it to say you’ve done it.

  • TiltedHorizon

    I read the bible in its entirety when I was 12. As a “first born son” I suffered through panic attacks and night terrors at the thought that god could, willfully and harshly, punish me for any ‘sins’ my parents may commit. I read it again in my 20s, just to be sure if it was as bad as I remembered. I am an atheist now, so I guess it was…

  • sweetpea

    In the Greek Orthodox church we never got to read any bible… as a five year old I can distinctly recall only the cantors used to sing it, and the priest dressed in his fine gold cape then sang his bit over a couple of octaves, whilst flinging about his smoking handbag, and then for the really big finish the “papa” disappeared through the back screen which had saint somebody painted on it. I always wished just once he would have let us know when the service was over, he would just disappear…the least he could have said was..”ta da!”

  • Robster

    The bible is atheism’s biggest, most effective tool. It’s an evil tome, designed to confuse. The more silly believers read the thing, the better. Non-believer ranks are swelling and exposure to the bible an only help the cause.

  • Thackerie

    True, reading the Bible was the gateway to atheism for many of us. But only because we read it critically and with an open mind.

    The bible read-a-thon described here is utterly worthless in this regard because it is done mindlessly. As a few comments that preceded mine note, most of the audience is dosing off or day-dreaming during what must be a horribly monotonous event.

    Others, the True Christians™, just allow themselves to be lulled into a sort of hypnotic trance that only reinforces their warm “spiritual” fuzzie wuzzies — because they don’t think deeply or rationally about what they’re hearing.

    Not likely that many de-conversions result.

  • Ray Spence

    The Word of God is the Bread of life.  Very wise move!