Jim Downard

Jim Downard is a Spokane native (with a sojourn in Southern California back in the early 1960s) who was raised in a secular family, so says had no personal faith to lose. He's always been a history and science buff (getting a bachelor's in the former area at what was then Eastern Washington University in the early 1970s).

When God puts his thumb on the scale

Herewith is part three of my secular/atheist reaction to The Bible series on the History Channel. Knowing of the reality series roots of Mark Burnett, the product he and his wife produced is threatening to become a theological version of The Biggest Loser: trimming line by line all manner of inconvenient Bible text (from Genesis to Judges) to leave the leaner, tidier finished product beaming at the end.

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Samson and other delinquencies in “The Bible”

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s miniseries “The Bible” on the History Channel sparked some deserved head scratching on this site and elsewhere as to how many liberties with a source text are OK in a dramatization. This is serious enough when it comes to secular history (recall the Connecticut Senator who bristled at how his state’s delegation was incorrectly depicted in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”) but takes on added gravitas when the source text is held by millions to be holy writ.

The issue becomes more interesting if a dramatist’s liberties with the text err on the side of rationalization: leaving things out which if included might cause viewers to see the story in a very different way.

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Why public schools should teach the Bible

The headline for this post is the same as the title of a March 1 article in the the Wall Street Journal, by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, producers of the new History Channel miniseries "The Bible". Roma (who starred in the reverential "Touched By an Angel" series some years back) and her husband Burnett (successful producer of reality shows like "Survivor" and "The Apprentice") have definitely got a mission, feeling America’s children are getting a raw deal by our present educational establishment: “It’s time to encourage, perhaps even mandate, the teaching of the Bible in public schools as a primary document of Western civilization.”

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