good news for modern monkeys

“the bible says” is not exactly true. i mean, the words say it on the page in front of me. but are those The Words Of God?

i remember when i was in high school in the late 70’s there was a fiery preacher named Lester Roloff who was on the christian radio a lot. (he and his ministry had homes/schools for teens, and they got in trouble for paddling the students and not submitting to government licensing regulations.) my family and i had been through some major shifts in our religious pilgrimage, and i was curious, and hungry, and hopeful, and skeptical, all at the same time. we were going to a whitebread mainline denominational church, which was a great comfort after the crazy cultish charismatic church we’d been part of before Mary Ann (my mother) had walked in one late afternoon a week before 9th grade was about to start and said “Kids, we’re leaving; pack what will fit in the station wagon; leave the rest.” and we packed, while my stepfather stood around and watched.

so we joined a nice church catty-cornered (the dictionary suggests that “catty-cornerd” is a variant of “kitty-corner” [though that’s debated because “kitty-corner” maybe a variant of “catercorner” in which case “catty-corner” is closer to the original] but we always said “catty” and i have no idea why one is better than the other – but then, my people were all farmers and bricklayers and gas-company workers and store employees – across the street from our shitty apartment complex. the nice church welcomed us and Mary Ann did all sorts of spiritual contortionisms and my sister and i joined the youth group and tried to keep as happy as possible. our religious education, as i recall, was loving and relational-cultural and simple and helpful (and when i left for college a few years later, i was ready not to have to go to church anymore). we experienced our religion with singing and study and covered-dish dinners and mission trips and beach trips and youth parties. i also heard the scriptures in contemporary language – this was the 1970s and the bible market was being opened with lots of different translations and versions of the bible.

i remember – i was driving, so we’d been in corpus a few years by then – hearing this radio preacher and the cadences sounded familiar – the rhythms and rising/falling cadences i’d heard in my farmer-family and charismatic churches – hearing Lester Roloff preaching about trusting god or whatever, and he said (as he preached a lot, as it turns out) that roloff_10the King James Version of the bible was the only bible that was the truly faithful Word of God. and he said, that he’d heard about this “Good News For Modern Man” – one of the names of what’s also called the “Good News Bible” and “Good News Translation,” a translation/paraphrase published by HarperCollins. and Brother Roloff said, “‘Good News For Modern Man’? I’d say it’s more like ‘Good News For Modern Monkeys’! All I need is my KJB and that’s the Word of God for me!” ‘KJB’ means ‘King James Bible.’

I wonder what Brother Roloff knew about the creation of the 1611 Authorized Version of the holy scriptures, and what King James was like, and who the committee members were, and what their assignments and objectives were, and who the audience and purposes for the Authorized Version were?

i’m going to share some of that with you – and Brother Roloff, from heaven, you’re welcome to listen in. there alongside King James, whom you’re shocked as shit to find there with you since James was such a total scumbag.

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