Religion can be beautiful—the ritual, biblical poetry, and certainly it has inspired some of the most breath-taking works of art known to us. BUT, religion can also be brutal and its history reflects many of humankind’s basest impulses. As for the Christian Bible, whether one believes the text is received truth or largely human embellishment (as I do), even fabrication, to ignore the vile and violent means that half of the story, the human story, is lost.
The second effort I want to note is an illustrated Book of Genesis just released by controversial artist Robert Crumb. Not surprisingly (Crumb is the creator of Fritz the Cat, a sexually graphic "underground" comic strip) and according to reviews I’ve seen, the book is shock-your-grandmother explicit. The book depicts, as recorded in the Bible, people actually having sex (e.g., Lot does indeed have incestuous sex with his two daughters) and there is a lot of violence. Of course, these pictures have been greeted by hostility by most church leaders, but that they accurately depict the goings-on in Genesis cannot be denied.
I'm keeping my eye out for a cheap flight to London this Fall, and I am definitely ordering Robert Crumb's book, if just to support the author.