Off the top of my Catholic atheist head, I say
Gethsemene (Lord, let this cup of suffering pass me by) for the humanity it gives to Christ,
and also Revelations in its entirety for the epic poetry of the whole thing.
Off the top of my Catholic atheist head, I say
When Jesus swallows the puzzle piece and The Man in the Big Yellow Hat has to take him to the hospital…
<nervously looks around for lightning and slowly sneaks out of the thread>
John 1 vv 1-14, preferably AV, makes my short hairs stand up every time, including just now when I checked the reference.
Well someone has to say it:
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.
I have read the bible (and about 40 of the scriptures in it I had to draw comics of, as Britain’s private education institutions had not come to terms with the concept of atheists back in 93), I admit there are some parts of it that are on par with the worlds greatest authors as far as the writing goes. But the fact that some rather evil people have used and continue to use the Bible as a means of spreading AIDS, harassing homosexuals and keeping teenager pregnancy levels in the US at an all time high makes it really hard for me to enjoy them. Its kind of like if “Birth of a Nation” was somehow in all aspects as great a movie as “Alexander Nevsky”, I would see that it was an amazingly made movie, but its statement and how people have abused it to inflict harm in the past makes it very hard for me to truly enjoy it.
I’ve developed a soft spot for King Josiah of Judah, I’m no playwright, but I think his story, as elucidated in the Jewish Oral Tradition, is a tragedy just begging for stage treatment.
For the beauty of its language, anything in the OT portion of the KJV.
A couple of portions stick in my mind for their portrayal of the day-to-day pain and humor of ordinary human beings. Leah and Rachel bickering over mandrakes is one. Jacob favors Rachel, but has no children with her; he didn’t want to marry her sister Leah, but he has several children with her. One day, Leah’s son comes to her with some mandrakes he’s gathered. Rachel asks for some, and Leah tells her, “You’ve got my husband, now you want something from my son, too?” She’s bitter at her husband’s blatant favoritism toward her sister, and she finally takes it out her. However, the sisters also strike a bargain - Leah will give Rachel what she wants, and Rachel agrees to let Leah sleep with Jacob that night. When Jacob comes home, Leah goes to him and announces, “You’ll sleep with me tonight, because I’ve hired you with my mandrakes.” I can’t NOT smile at this one, with the image of Jacob - who probably liked to fantasize that he was in charge of things - being passed around like a stallion on live cover duty. But I also am deeply touched each time I read it by the tension and resentment between the sisters. It’s a very human story, in the sense that this reads like an exchange between some ordinary people. They aren’t being pillars of anything, just three people trying to get through another day.
And, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,
That has been some of the best wisdom and guidance in my life.
From the New Revised Standard Version translation:
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
Every prostitute receives a fee, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors. 34 So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.
That Ezekiel!! What a card!!
My favorate verse has already been qouted Ecc. 3.
I also enjoy the book of Revelation. The parable of the sower is also a favorate of mine.
My favorite line is from the story of Lazarus in the Gospel of John.
John 11:39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.”
Besides being a great story of faith, I love that line about the stench.