Curtis Dahlgren
Reviewing the Ultimate Book in 300 words, more or less
By Curtis Dahlgren
July 16, 2014

"If there were nothing else in my life to prove the existence of an Almighty and Merciful God, the events of the next 24 hours did it." – Dwight D. Eisenhower, regarding auspicious weather on D-Day ("God and the Oval Office," John McCollister, 2005)

AN INTELLIGENT AND TALKATIVE lady found herself at dinner beside a bishop. Having a social gift, she knew that most men are flattered to be met in conversation on their own grounds, and so she started to talk about the Bible. "I can't pretend that I read it as much as I should," she confessed, "and really you know parts of it seem to me hopelessly out of date.

"Yet," she added broadmindedly, "I'll admit there are some very beautiful passages."

"Yes?" said the bishop. "For instance?"

"Well," she said, "for example the line about God 'tempering the wind to the shorn lamb.' And now you must tell me your favorite verse."

"It would be hard for me to pick a single verse," he said. "But I can give you my favorite passage: It is the one about Eliza crossing the ice."

The bishop was pulling her leg, of course, but she couldn't tell any more than she knew the source of 'God tempers the wind, said Maria, for the shorn lamb' (Laurence Sterne, 1713-1768). The Bible is "the book that nobody knows," according to Bruce Barton's book by that name. As he said:

"How many read it? How many know what it really contains?"

I reviewed a couple of books in June, so it occurred to me that I'm overdue for reviewing the Bible. Someone ought to review the Bible in 300 words or less (in a column), so here goes:

Bruce Barton (1886-1967) was one of this country's first P.R. advisors to Presidents (Coolidge and Hoover). He was also a congressman and an author ("The Man Nobody Knows," etc.). I recently had the chance to look over "The Book That Nobody Knows" because it was one of only 2 or 3 books from a friend's library that survived a house fire.

The opening paragraphs above are from Barton's introduction. He listed four reasons for reading the Bible:

- The history of a people (and the development of civilization in general).

- Some of the greatest literature of all time.

- The best textbook on human nature (the Creator's operator's manual), and-

- The story of Jesus (including prophecies from ancient times).

Modern man flushes the Bible down the toilet instead of the Quran, but in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (2nd Ed., 1959) the Bible was given 30 pages of selected quotes, plus the Book of Common Prayer, more Biblical quotes, covered 13 pages, a total of 43. Not too shabby by today's values, but I wonder how many pages the Bible got in the 7th edition (2009)? Shakespeare always gets more pages, but the Lord's Book gets more pages than Bacon, Blackstone, and Blake, et al.

My only criticism of Barton is that he didn't devote much of his book to the prophecies in the Bible – the number one evidence for its authenticity and authority! For instance, I could elaborate on a few prophecies:

The 19th Century:

"All nations shall call you blessed for you shall be a delightsome land . . Yet you say 'It is vain to serve God; what's the profit?'

"Then those who stood in awe of God
spoke often to one another and He heard it and hearkened . . . " – the prophet Malachi (400 BC)

[The 19th century, 2500 years later, saw the development of steamships, railroads, the telegraph, and the telephone.]

The 20th Century:

"Shut the book, Daniel, and seal it 'til the time of the end;
many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased."

[All nations of the world called us blessed because freedom and liberty, with an emphasis on the individual, produced "Yankee ingenuity" and the beginnings of the Information Superhighway.]

The 21st Century:

[The prophet Nahum (700 BC) may have been the first human to "see" the automobile (and a car crash); at least so it seems.]

"The chariots shall rage in the streets; they shall jostle one against another in the [broad] freeways. They shall seem like torches and they shall run like the lightning."

[They crash, even on our 8-lane "streets," because the drivers are texting "one to another" while "running to and fro like lightning," as Daniel and Malachi predicted!]

P.S. The temperature was mid-forties – mid-July – today in the Northwoods. I understand Al Gore was recently in Australia and they are having record cold winter weather. If you don't like cold weather, stay away from Al Gore. He is "beyond blushing."

PPS: Speaking of the "great literature" the Bible contains, here's one of my favorite passages, from Jeremiah (600 BC):

"Were they ashamed when they had committed outrageous deeds? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush; therefore they shall fall . . We looked for peace, but no good came, for a time of health, and behold trouble! . . . Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? . . For behold therefore, God will send snakes among you that cannot be charmed."

[I wonder if Jeremiah was talking about cold politicians who cling to their agenda come hell or high water, who cannot be reasoned with ("Come let us reason together," LBJ used to say).]


The Western World is going to be in deep doo-doo when people begin video-taping their own abortions and "sharing if" on the Internet, eh?

Oh that's right – someone has already done that!

© Curtis Dahlgren


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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