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The Bible in the News
Leonard J. Greenspoon
When I read about the Sermon on the Mount in popular media these days, I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or (in Jesus’ words) turn the other cheek. It is absolutely amazing to consider the variety of uses (and abuses) to which these good words are put by members of the public and those who write about them.
Consider this headline, “Sermon on the Mount: Hillwalking Couple Spot Image of Christ on Highland Outcrop” (London’s Daily Mail), followed by: “Arms stretched and head tilted, it is the very image of Jesus preaching to the masses ... It is a strikingly shaped natural rock on a mountain top in the Highlands [and] there’s also grass on the top of the rock that looks like hair.” Visiting this spot can take up to ten hours of walking roundtrip, so—in the words of the article—“make sure you’re fit.”
After reading that account, we are perhaps not quite so taken aback by a story with this headline from The Grand Rapids Press, “Ministry Uses Bible Principles to Train Horses: Sermon on the Mount Works to Help Relationships Develop.” According to the creator of this approach, “The same ... things essential in horse training are needed for people in their walk with God ... You think you’re training your horse, but you are really training yourself.” I suppose the same could be said about training our puppies!
Throughout Ireland and Great Britain, politicians and political observers find frequent occasions to refer to Matthew 5–7. So, we read (in the Irish Independent): “The Green Party leader declared at his party conference, ‘We don’t inherit the earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children’ ... Could this have been adapted from the Sermon on the Mount?” And this from UK Newsquest Regional Press: “David Cameron has been hailed as the new messiah of the Conservative Party after a rousing speech at the Tory Party Conference. [This speech] has been described as his ‘Sermon on the Mount.’” From farther north comes this report from The Herald in Glasgow, Scotland: “It appears that New Labour has now made a radical change to the Sermon on the Mount. From now on it is to read: ‘Blessed are the poor for they shall be trodden on.’”
Further Reading:
Sermon on the Mount
Strata: The Bible in the News ( BAR 36:03, May/Jun 2010)
Strata: The Bible in the News ( BAR 34:01, Jan/Feb 2008)
Book Notes ( BR 11:05, Oct 1995)

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