Associated Press headlines through the weekend trumpeted: “Sex Sells!” That’s “Sex” as in “Sex and the City,” because the movie version of the hit TV series overwhelmed box-office expectations like a tidal wave — sweeping Indiana Jones’ battered fedora from the top slot in weekend ticket sales.
This is precisely why, here at ReadTheSpirit, we make a point of making regular visits to watch people and products at Target, Borders and other popular stores that give us “real world” barometric readings on what Americans are thinking about in their daily lives. And, that’s why most Friday evenings, we’re at a cineplex watching theatergoers.
Anyone who walked into a theater on Friday night saw this tidal wave crashing — long before the Monday morning headlines. Theaters were jammed with groups of women dressed up and having the time of their lives. I can’t remember a louder theater lobby — even for a Disney opening!
My favorite wire story came from Reuters, which put it this way: “The four cosmo-swilling fashionistas whipped … reigning champ Indiana Jones.”
Here’s the background: A couple of years ago, “The Devil Wears Prada” racked up about $27 million on its opening weekend and “Sex and the City” was pegged to equal that. Everybody expected Indy Jones would rank No. 1 in weekend sales, again. But, no! The four friends hit $27 million on opening night and when the dust settled Monday, they’d cleared nearly $56 million — a whopping lead over Indy’s $46 million for the weekend.
Now, that doesn’t mean Indy’s down for the count. In fact, this past weekend, “Indiana Jones” joined “Iron Man” as the only two movies in 2008 to total more than $200 million in theaters.
Of course, anyone who’s a student of the Bible knows these facts of life, right?
Months ago, we predicted that one of the hottest small-group, Bible-study books for the summer season would be a little book called “The Uncensored Bible: The Bawdy and Naughty Bits of the Good Book.”
In February, we even published a study-guide to the book, so group leaders could plan early for these classes. Well, that little book finally goes on sale June 10 — and you can pre-order it right now by clicking on the title or the cover.
This week, all of our ReadTheSpirit stories explore the question: “How can I keep up with our rapidly changing culture?” In this case, students of the Bible know all about sex, don’t we?
Here’s a great chance to test yourself — 10 Questions about Sex in the Bible.
Today, we also recommend “SkyLight Illuminations: Sex Texts from the Bible,” which you also can explore further by clicking on the title or the cover. It’s a great companion book for classes studying “The Uncensored Bible.”
1.) How many times do the words “sex” or “sexual” appear in the Bible? Because there are so many different versions of the Bible, let’s zero in on a worldwide bestseller: the King James Version.
A. Fewer than 10
B. Between 10 and 100
C. More than 100
2.) In some sections of the Bible, endogamy is encouraged. What is it?
A. Regarding marriage as the natural end of single life.
B. Requiring that marriages remain within one’s social group.
C. Requiring that men stop marrying after a single spouse.
3.) King David behaved very badly after Bathsheba caught his eye. In fact, David was so hot for her that he had Bathsheba’s husband knocked off so he could marry her. There was plenty more court intrigue after that, involving their child. Who was the child that kept Bathsheba scheming until the end of David’s life?
4.) Ruth’s courtship of Boaz in the book of Ruth relates to various marriage customs of that era, but it’s also simply a great piece of literature — a romantic scene for thousands of years. What did she do?
A. She picked lilies of the field and sprinkled them on his floor.
B. She was followed by singing birds as she met him at dusk near an old barn.
C. She curled up around his feet after a long day of work — and snuggled up under his cloak.
5.) We all recall that, once Adam and Eve discovered they were naked, they grabbed leaves to cover themselves. But toward the end of Genesis 3, God actually makes some clothes for the couple. What does God use to craft these garments?
A. Angels wings
B. Rays of pure light
C. Animal skins
6.) In biblical times, there weren’t nightclubs or bars for singles to congregate, so a great place to meet a girl or a guy was:
A. a well
B. a hilltop
C. an inn
7.) For thousands of years, writers have loved the sexy poetry in “Song of Solomon” and have borrowed many of its phrases. In the 1940s, a single verse — Chapter 2, Verse 15 — produced two Hollywood movies. What were they?
A. “Rite of Spring” and “Rising Tide”
B. “The Lonely Girl” and “A Call in the Night”
C. “The Little Foxes” and “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes”
8.) Much of the Bible not only condones polygamy, but boasts of it. Can you recall how many wives King Solomon had? (Not counting his concubines.)
9.) A controversial scene in Chapter 6 of 2 Samuel inspired the Shaker religious movement in the U.S. What was going on in that scene?
A. Half-nude cherubim were seen swirling around God’s throne.
B. King David was seen dancing in public.
C. Godiva saved all of Israel by riding nude in front of enemies.
10.) Let’s end on a famous note of love, today, shall we? Two of the great lovers of the Bible are Isaac and Rebekah. Bible scholars enjoy debating a number of passages involving this couple. In one evening scene in Genesis 24, Isaac and Rebekah encounter each other unexpectedly — and what sign do we have of the impact of simply seeing her love standing there?
A. She jumps off the camel she’s riding.
B. She peels him a grape.
C. She laughs and runs away.
NOW — if you’re reading the online version of this Quiz — you can click on the LINK below — and the answers will pop up!
1.) The answer is “A,” because those words never appear in the King James Version of the Bible. Now, this is fascinating. Quite curiously, we think, the most popular evangelical translation of the Bible — the New International Version — prints these words dozens of times (56 to be exact)! Who says evangelicals are stodgy?
2.) B. It’s an ancient custom to preserve a tribe or social group by requiring that men and women choose their partners from within the group. If you don’t recall those sections of the Bible — you haven’t been reading closely enough.
3.) A. We recall Solomon’s great wisdom. That great wisdom seems all the more amazing, considering his deeply scarred family life.
4.) C. If you said flowers or birds, you must be thinking Walt Disney. No, Ruth’s romance is one of the greatest snuggling scenes in all of literature.
5.) C. Talk about the ultimate in “designer fashion”! And fur, too! The scriptures say God made them from animal skins.
6.) A. Yes, these were the original “watering holes” where people stopped by regularly and were able to mingle with other people, occasionally even men with women. Check out Exodus Chapter 2 to read about Moses making quite an impression at a well. This particular oasis scene even made it into Cecil B. DeMille’s “Ten Commandments.”
7.) C. “Foxes” is the more famous of the two films, starring Bette Davis in a drama written by Lillian Hellman. It racked up 9 Oscar nominations, although it didn’t win any statuettes. “Vines” was a 1945 drama co-starring Edward G. Robinson and Margaret O’Brien. No Oscar nominations, although it was written by the famous screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who spent the 1950s blacklisted.
8.) C. And, in addition to the 700, Solomon had 300 concubines. Check out 1Kings 11:3.
9.) B. Not only was David dancing, but most Bible scholars read the ancient text as describing David as controversially stripping down almost to the nude. It’s ironic the Shakers — a strictly celibate movement — actually sang hymns about this scene. (And Godiva? That’s from an 11th-Century story about a noblewoman publicly protesting in an attempt to convince her stubborn husband to reduce the taxes on his people.)
10.) A. Somehow, she gets off that camel in a big hurry. Translations vary and many modestly say she simply got down off the animal to meet him. However, some Bible scholars say the original Hebrew is more dramatic than that. They translate it: “She fell off her camel.”
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