Matthew Mischaracterizes My "Bible" Position - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Matthew Mischaracterizes My “Bible” Position

I have no problem with somebody criticizing the Roma Downey production of The Bible. But somehow Matthew interprets my defense of Downey’s motives with a defense of the production itself. That’s a sort of strange mis-reading of a rather clear post in which I write that the production “fails to achieve lift-off.” I never, ever said that the show shouldn’t be criticized; I very clearly said that Jackson had been “too tough on its producers,” especially in his use of the word “hypocrite” to describe them. I would have been fine with criticism of what I called the “leaden” production. I just didn’t think the producer’s motives should be attacked along with their creation — or at least not attacked in terms as harsh as “hypocrite.” It is quite obvious to any sentient being that sometimes people’s reach exceeds their grasp, and that sometimes people’s attempts at art fail to achieve a satisfactory outcome. Has not Matthew ever tried to do something but failed? Or has he never gone into a project with a poorly formed idea of what the project really entails? I agree that Downey and her husband exhibit “fuzzy” thinking about the actual Bible and probably about the content of most people’s faith. I just took great pains to explain why I thought Downey is, rather than hypocrtical, entirely sincere — and why she’s also doing a great thing by insisting that the “separation of church and state” should not be interpreted to mean that schools can’t study the Bible. 

But there is absolutely no “logical leap” in what I’ve written — because I didn’t come close to writing what Matthew said I did. How in the Lord’s name Matthew can fail to recognize the distinction that I made is beyond me. I would appreciate him in the future abstain from mischaracterizing what I wrote. Yes, if I had written what he said, he would have had a point. But instead he created a straw man, placed me in the straw man’s suit, and then proceeded to light the match.

It also was really frustrating to see him accuse me of relegating art to the “cienaga” (fancy word alert! — meaning “marsh” or “mire”) of politics. Roma Downey wrote a WSJ column about the needs of education (not politics), and I endorsed her educational project. If endorsing the idea of teaching the Bible in public schools, as literature, is a cienaga, then please, please, please can I and all people who care about the educational enterprise be sent into that glorious swamp?

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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