Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What should be the official book of Tennessee?

As is being reported nationwide in the US, the Tennessee legislature has declared the Bible to be the state's official book.

Come on, Tennessee. You can do better than that. An official state book should at least mention the state. The Bible fails miserably in this regard, unless "Babylon" is code for "Nashville." Or Gehenna, the trash heap model for Hell? It sorta sounds like Tennessee.

It's obvious to anyone that this is an act of politically correct posturing. Morristown's Sen. Southerland is a stripper on a pole. He just wants you to throw him your vote, or even better, your Jacksons.

This is not a criticism of the Bible per se: it is an admirable collection of books (important point! Pick one book, Sen. Southerland! Let me guess: Leviticus?) written by people seeking the key to eternity, divining the intent of the divine. In this regard, Tennessee doesn't come out too well, at least when it comes to helping refugees and the poor, an important theme in many of the books in the Bible, including--heads up, Sen. Southerland--Leviticus: e.g. Lev. 25:35, which says "if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee."

(That's King James-speak. I won't even get started on the issue of which translation to use.)

No, the Bible will not do as an official book for Tennessee. If there's going to be an official state book, don't just follow the unreflective path of political correctness. Instead, set some criteria for selection and have a reasoned debate. Isn't that what legislatures are supposed to do?As a native and--except for 3 years in Babylon--lifelong Tennessean, and a career librarian besides, may I suggest the following:
  • It should be set in Tennessee, not "Tennessee" (meaning Babylon or Gehenna).
  • It should be readable by as many as possible, at least from young adult up. 
  • It should be fiction, like the parables of Jesus. 
  • It should be primarily about children and/or animals. New York has Make Way for Ducklings as its state book, which is hilarious considering the driving behavior of NYC cabbies. Lucky Minnesota has Little House on the Prairie. What would fit the bill would be an amalgam of Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, and Winnie the Pooh, set on the banks of the Tennessee River.
That's it! So, what's out there that might be considered? Well, in fact there is just such a book : The Signal Mountain Spelling Book of JuliUn Tod. Written by me.

So maybe the TN legislature will take up this proposal and do the right thing. And maybe the title of this blog is Follies O'Barry. And maybe I too am just a stripper on a pole: throw me your Jacksons ... though the paperback is just $13.27 or $11.94 and the pdf e-book? Free.

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