I was reading the words of my brilliant friend, Digital Cuttlefish, this morning (which is the middle of the night for my American friends), and ran across this gem;
They were starving; they were homeless; they were dying; they were dead.
There were bodies to be buried; there were children to be fed.
There were broken heaps of rubble where the houses used to stand
There was utter devastation; there was chaos in the land.
There were frantic cries for rescue; there were howls of fear and pain
There were heroes risking life and limb, with much to lose or gain.
There were millions in donations–drinking water, food to cook–
And the most important gift of all… The Christian Holy Book.
excerpted from “Starving? Have a Bible” — Digital Cuttlefish
I was one of millions who were outraged at the unadulterated self-serving stupidity of christian cultists in American who would send bibles to starving, desperate Haitians instead of using that space for more desperately needed items: food, water, medications, tents. Okay, I know they also sent a few token relief items with the bibles as well, but why not substitute yet more relief items into the space (and weight) occupied by all those bibles?
Which leads me to my central question: why send bibles at all? Bibles are not at all practical, unless used as toilet paper. Additionally, as an extreme bibliophile, I recognize the value of good literature for helping people endure their miseries, but with the exception of Song of Solomon (also known as the Song of Songs) and the Psalms, the bible hardly qualifies as anything more than a bunch of poorly-written and repetitive bullshit, senseless violence, fantasy and magic.
If these people are serious about wanting to help relieve suffering and insist on sending books instead of relief supplies, why not send Harry Potter books along with relief supplies? The Harry Potter book series is filled with escapism combined with generous helpings of magic and fantasy, but the hero doesn’t die in the end, and the books are much better written than the bible, too.
Since christian cultists are doing the choosing, maybe Herman Hesse’s Beneath the Wheel (Unterm Rad) is a better choice? That book would support the christian cultists’ friendliness to the know-nothing, do-nothing point of view that a good education creates more problems than it solves. But unlike the bible, Beneath the Wheel falls short on supplying enough fantasy and magic to a people who are desperate to escape from their situation.
Maybe we should instead consider the Haitian’s rage at the slow and incomplete rescue and relief response they’ve experienced? In that case, perhaps a few million copies of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath would be a better choice? That book is better written than the bible — much much better written, in fact (Steinbeck won both a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize for Literature, unlike god, who has won exactly nothing for his prodigious ghost-writing efforts) and it drives home the point that the poor are always going to get screwed by the rich, regardless of how resourceful they are and despite how hard they work to escape their circumstances.
Which leads me to my next suggested book title, a practical choice, really, since relief is so slow in coming (and by the time it arrives, the number of dead Haitians might have doubled); John Wiseman’s SAS Survival Handbook, Revised Edition: For Any Climate, in Any Situation (in a handy paperback edition, which no doubt is lighter than a ponderous bible). Like some of my previous suggestions, this book fails on the magic and fantasy scales, but it does do something that the bible does not: it tells people how to look after themselves, instead of waiting for a nonexistent and indifferent god to do it for them.
Since books seem to be required as part of the relief supplies for desperate Haitians, which books would you consider sending them, instead of more relief supplies?