Ignoramus Alert: Here is your Bible teacher

And now a vague teacher who is proud of his ignorance will help you study. What more can I say?

Too idle to read the Bible? It's in a blog
By Sara Ledwith

If pious Muslims follow the Koran, might Christians and Jews benefit from a closer read of their scriptures too? Can Biblical verses help make them better people, better parents, or even get along better with their in-laws?

People interested by such questions who haven't got much beyond the Adam and Eve story can join a man reading the Bible at http://www.slate.com, an online daily magazine.

In "Blogging the Bible," a vaguely religious man plods gamely through scripture, asking down-to-earth or occasionally irreverent questions, and getting thousands of emails in response.

"Any parent knows you have to follow through on your threats, or your children will take advantage of you," notes its author David Plotz, as he wonders why God let Adam and Eve off despite warning that "as soon as you eat of (the fruit of the tree of knowledge), you shall die."

"You can call this 'original sin', but maybe it's just lax parenting."

Plotz is Jewish, and calls himself a lax but well-educated ignoramus. And he finds so much sex, rape, incest, murder and gore in the 'Good Book' that parts of it remind him of 'Desperate Housewives' or 'The Godfather'.

He came up with the project on a rare visit to the synagogue, when he picked up the Torah during a tedious ceremony and chanced upon a rape scene.

"I want to find out what happens when an ignorant person actually reads the book on which his religion is based," he writes. "I think I'm in the same position as many other lazy but faithful people (Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus)."

In a life filled with debate about radical faith - from terrifying attacks to controversy about religious apparel - the idea of returning to texts like the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament is gaining ground.

But Plotz, who uses a conservative Jewish translation of the Torah and the King James's Bible as his texts, says his project has no political purpose.

Some parts of the text are heavy-going, but the Washington-based writer said the enthusiasm of readers - many of them Christians - has kept him at it and he now plans to publish the project as a book.

"This chapter makes the Jerry Springer Show look like Winnie the Pooh," writes Plotz of Genesis, Chapter 19. "The Sodom business is worse than I ever imagined."

Since starting the project in August, Plotz has received about 7,000 emails and read about half of them, he told Reuters.

A few come from atheists or radicals who are outraged by the venture, but he has not received the "battering" he feared.

"So many (people writing in) feel that their religion has been captured by the pastors, the priests their access to the teaching has been cut off," he said by telephone. "I think we've been done a disservice by organized religion in some ways - they've narrowed the field of what we read and talk about."

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