Sunday, July 11, 2010

'Miami Thrice' and King James

No, I do not live in a cave. I followed the adventures - through New York Times headlines - of Lebron, and watched with everyone else as he did what in retrospect seems obvious, signing with Dwayne and Chris and (here's the significant and) Pat Riley.

But I still, over the last few days, have been guilty of a cognitive disconnect. I kept on seeing tweets, about 'hating King James,' and I'm thinking to myself: why the sudden animus for the King James Bible? Maybe, I found myself thinking, public culture is not in such a sorry state. True, I myself prefer King James, especially to the polemical and fussy Geneva Bible, but hey: I'm open minded. In any event, feeling myself not so irrelevant to discussions of the day: first one of the World Cup organizers refers to Donne's Meditation 17 - 'no, man is an island' - and now the greatest English Bible translation trending on twitter.

But then I realized: oh, that King James.

A twitter-quaintance - is that a word? - noted how 'all of the yeshiva guys' he knew were in the parsha of King James, but this time, the right one, or the wrong one, depending on your perspective.

So why does the 'Torah only' world tolerate a love of basketball, but not King James (the real one), Aristotle, and Shakespeare? Talk about the King James Bible translation to yeshiva guys, and after a long blank stare, they will probably wonder if Art Scroll got a new donor. I'll quote Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein: why do people think it is 'perfectly legitimate to labor long and engrossing hours in order to eat lamp chops, drive a Volvo, or vacation in St. Moritz, but illicit to devote those hours instead to exploring, with Plato and Goethe, new vistas and experience?'

Yes, Rav Aharon's references are dated (a Volvo!), but why do so some of us tolerate Torah and entertainment, and not pursue Torah u'madda? or pay lip service to the latter while pursuing the former?


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I doubt that one of those peope will stop by and answer; too bad.

Dov Kramer said...

I'm puzzled by it too, but chalk it up to it being less "megushemdik" than other persuits (i.e. the outdated "Volvo") while not taking the intellectual time away from Torah study ("Maddah").

I'm not commenting on whether they are right or wrong (esp. about the worthwhile nature of Maddah), just trying to understand the phenomenon.