At the time I avoided mentioning who had sent the gift, out of respect for his privacy, but since he's had no qualms involving himself in the discussion of the book I guess it's no secret that it was sent by fellow TFN'er Drew Mazanec.
The discussion has been on hold because I've had other things occupying my time. I had to finish up the course I was doing part-time over at fxphd, and I've still got a lot of work to do full-time on Sandrima Rising.
So imagine my surprise today when I was again greeted by a smirking Amazon shipment -- this time a gift of the Apologetics Study Bible, once again from Drew.
Although I have a cynical view of religion and belief, I am less cynical and more willing to give a benefit of a doubt to the religious and believers. I have no doubt that Drew is sending me these tomes with the best of intentions. More than likely, out of a concern for the fate of my immortal soul. Though I consider the concern misplaced, I do not doubt that it is genuine.
But I went to a Lutheran middle school and a Catholic high school. From those schools, I own a Lutheran Study Bible and a Roman Catholic Bible; I also have a Bible that my mother got when she graduated high school. In addition, my roommates own three Bibles between them, and if I want to get really academic about it, my brother not only also has a KJV Bible, but owns copies of the Bible in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.
So in printed Bibles alone I've got handy access to ten different editions in four different languages. And just about every English version of the Bible is readily available online. My favorite of which, and the one I read, is the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, which looks at the text objectively, letting it stand or fall (mostly fall) on its own merits.
It is not a lack of Biblical availability or knowledge that causes me to not believe in Christianity. Indeed, it is the fact that I am familiar with the Bible that causes me to dismiss it. It is not for lack of Bibles, it is for lack of evidence that the Bible is reliable in the first place.
I was a Christian for most of my life, and a devout one through the end of high school and college.1 I understand the mindset and I know the arguments presented. I am not denigrating Drew's concern, or his generosity. Clearly he believes strongly enough to put his money where his mouth is, literally; and in pursuit of what I assume, based on my personal experience as a Christian, he sees as helping me.
But if I needed a Bible (and as I said, I really don't), I could afford one. Land of opportunity FTW. Next time you've got extra cash laying around, instead of spending $30 to send me a book, donate it to a humanitarian cause. Preferably one that provides food where it is needed.
Obviously, the real aim is to address and/or answer some of my questions and concerns. So take out the middle man, Drew. Let's just talk about this. We both have blogs, we both have AIM, we both have e-mail. Name the medium and let's have an actual discussion about this stuff. My only condition is that we be allowed to share the discussion, in whole or in part, on our respective blogs. Clearly you believe in what these books are peddling, so you should be able to articulate it in your own words. It's not fair for me to tear an argument apart when the person making the argument has no opportunity for rebuttal. So let's have a dialogue. It'll save you money in the long run.
My intention is not to "call Drew out" or put him on the spot. But I think it could be educational for both of us, and maybe for our respective readers, to hash this out directly rather than dashing exclusively behind various authors and authorities. Which is not to say that calling upon experts would be out of the question, but the bulk of it should be our own expression.
Plus it'll give me more to post about.
The invitation is open to anyone else who cares to discuss these ideas with me, as well. Just let me know.
And if anyone feels compelled to send me free books in the future, I would much prefer something from my Amazon wish list.
On that subject, I'm also looking for recommendations for new (to me) fiction; I've been reading a lot of non-fiction and technical stuff lately and want to "get away" a little bit.
- At least a few of the folks out there who are currently Christians will, I'm sure, refuse to believe that I was ever "truly" Christian, much less devout. If I truly had a relationship with God I could never turn away, goes the reasoning. I can't really begrudge that thinking, because ironically, that was my thinking when I was devout. All I can say is, believe me, I was. Anyone who knew me at the time could vouch for it.↩