The Dangerous Idea
I love seeing girls in bookstores. I applied to Barnes and Noble once, and I received an interview spot. I did not get the job, though. I think it was because I told them I was only looking for a summer job. Now I know never to tell employers you are only looking for a summer job. Had I been hired, I would have used my position as sales associate to talk to girls because I would be in a bookstore, and I love seeing girls carry a book around like it’s their best friend or new lover. I like girls that read.
Even though they did not hire me, I go back to that Barnes and Noble a lot. A habit of mine is to look at their Christianity section even though I probably have memorized the books they have on display there.
One book in the Christianity section has caught my interest because the title is sexy. The title is sexy because I think the the subject that the title is titling is fantastic; that subject is Ideas.
The book is called Christianity’s Dangerous Idea. That is a sexy title if I’ve ever read one.
From reading the back cover, I think the basic idea of the book is that the author, Alister McGrath, is tracing the roots of Protestant Christianity to Martin Luther and his daring expedition to post his 95 theses. His 95 theses, as I infer from the cover of the book, had their start in his interpretation of the Bible.
So, is it dangerous? If we focus on Christian theology, then, yes, maybe it is. Can a human interpret a divinely-inspired text to be read however he or she interprets it? On the other hand, if we don’t interpret it, are we left with anything substantial or comprehensible? Then there is the middle ground: is it enough or correct for the Christian community to come to a consensus on what interpretation is correct, and then admonish all other interpretations? What about in other areas? Is it dangerous to personally interpret music, film, poetry, or any other art form? Surely, most art has an original meaning or purpose. Do we harm the essential nature when we are allowed to interpret as we please?
I don’t think it is that much of a danger. I think, in fact, that it is quite rich for us to interpret anything and everything. Now, of course, there are idiotic interpretations. I think those are dangerous. I find it hard to believe, but some people latch onto those unbelievable interpretations. For example, there is this man who interprets, “You are what you eat,” to defend his belief of the Breatharians. It is absurd.
My conclusion? Interpretation is a dangerous idea, but only if you are an idiot. Otherwise, it is very useful.