This evening I read in the The Huffington Post that each school in the UK is to receive a copy of the King James bible with a introduction written by Michael Gove. Let me make it clear that I have no problem with every school having a King James bible, students from all faith backgrounds and none should be encouraged to read the King James, a text which contains much beautiful language, thought and poetry. The bible is a key part of our cultural heritage and it is tragic that there is such ignorance of it and the ideas it contains. I always tell students that if they want to do well in Literature, they should read the bible. My main problem with the proposal lay not with the bible itself but with the nauseating prospect of such a beautiful, challenging and life altering text being sullied by an introduction by Michael Gove.
Some critics have complained that Gove is promoting religious values at the expense of multi culturalism through this proposal. Others have asked whether he will also write an introduction to the origin of the species (please, don't encourage the man...) and put that on display in schools. But while the multiculturalists, Darwinists and Richard Dawkins bleat and complain, I'd like to jump on the band wagon and say that I really object to the likes of Mr Gove using this sacred text to convince blue rinse brigade Tories and outraged Daily Mail readers that he will tackle moral decline, instil right thinking in our youngsters and generally drag us back to the nineteen fifties. I hate to think what Mr Gove will pontificate about in his introduction to the bible, but I am pretty sure it will utterly destroy any sense of awe, mystery or radical thought and reduce it to some sort of right wing formula.
In fact it brought to mind this sketch from Dead Poets society in which one J.Evans Pritchard advocates the use of a graph to measure poetry. If a copy of Mr Gove's bible falls into my hands, my fingers might just be itching to rip out the introduction and leave the pure unadulterated text - because, to modify the quote at the end of this clip, "No matter what anyone tells you, the bible can change the world."