Jim Harrison on the book that “made you who you are today”

If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?

The King James Version of the Bible. Also the works of Dostoyevsky. I read the Bible over and over in my youth, and the Judeo-Christian sensibility focused the world for me, for better or worse. Now, at my advanced age, I wonder how we are taught to believe something, but then we fail to learn how not to believe it. I find that I still believe in the Resurrection, though I improved it somewhat in a poem:

In the forty days in the wilderness Jesus
took along a stray dog from town. When
they got back home Jesus told the dog he
had to go off to Jerusalem to get crucified.
Jesus stored the dog in his tomb and after
he himself was brought there they
ascended into heaven together.

Source: Jim Harrison: By the Book – The New York Times

Their emulation of Jesus proved fatally incomplete …

Here their emulation of Jesus proved fatally incomplete. In their quest to be inclusive and tolerant and up-to-date, the accommodationists imitated his scandalously comprehensive love, while ignoring his scandalously comprehensive judgement.  They used his friendship with prostitutes as an excuse to ignore his explicit condemnation of fornication and divorce. They turned his disdain for the religious authorities of his day and his fondness for tax collectors and Roman soldiers into a thin excuse for privileging the secular realm over the sacred. While recognizing his willingness to dine with outcasts and converse with nonbelievers, they de-emphasized the crucial fact that he had done so in order to heal them and convert them-ridding the leper of his sickness, telling the Samaritans that soon they would worship in spirit and truth, urging the women taken in adultery to go, and from now on sin no more.

Given the climate of the 1960s and ’70s, these choices were understandable.  But the more the accommodationists emptied Christianity of anything that might offend the sensibilities of a changing country, the more they lost any sense that what they were engaged in really mattered, or was really, truly true.

— Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics

Their emulation of Jesus proved fatally incomplete …

Here their emulation of Jesus proved fatally incomplete. In their quest to be inclusive and tolerant and up-to-date, the accommodationists imitated his scandalously comprehensive love, while ignoring his scandalously comprehensive judgement.  They used his friendship with prostitutes as an excuse to ignore his explicit condemnation of fornication and divorce. They turned his disdain for the religious authorities of his day and his fondness for tax collectors and Roman soldiers into a thin excuse for privileging the secular realm over the sacred. While recognizing his willingness to dine with outcasts and converse with nonbelievers, they de-emphasized the crucial fact that he had done so in order to heal them and convert them-ridding the leper of his sickness, telling the Samaritans that soon they would worship in spirit and truth, urging the women taken in adultery to go, and from now on sin no more.

Given the climate of the 1960s and ’70s, these choices were understandable.  But the more the accommodationists emptied Christianity of anything that might offend the sensibilities of a changing country, the more they lost any sense that what they were engaged in really mattered, or was really, truly true.

— Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics