By Aaron Wilson
GQ magazine editors have given their audience a pass on reading the Bible.
The popular men’s magazine known for listicles on grooming tips and fashion advice recently weighed in on classical literature in an article titled, “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read.”
The Bible came in at No. 12.
“The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it,” the article states. “Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced.”
GQ is correct—at least—on the first point. Although the majority of Americans have a positive view of the Bible, more than half say they have read little to none of it, according to Lifeway Research.
Other books that made GQ’s list of not-to-read-literature include J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
The Bible was the only religious book on GQ’s list.
“[The Bible] is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned,” the article says.
In place of the Bible, GQ recommends readers check out The Notebook by Agota Kristof, a novel the article describes as “a marvelous tale of two brothers who have to get along when things get rough.”
But GQ may have taken its own advice in not actually reading the Bible or other books on the list. In the article’s introduction, the editors admit they read only halfway through some books and a few pages into one.
“Some [of these books] are racist and some are sexist, but most are just really, really boring,” the article states. “So we—and a group of un-boring writers—give you permission to strike these books from the canon.”
While it’s doubtful many Americans subscribe to GQ for religious advice—the May issue includes an NBA star modeling pink glitter shorts for men—the article does reflect the dismissive attitude many Americans bring to Bible reading.
Nine out of 10 American households own a Bible, according to the American Bible Society; however, only 1 in 5 Americans report having read it all the way through.
“Many people do not find themselves awed by the Bible,” says Erik Raymond, senior pastor at Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska. “They avoid the Bible because it has been a long time—if ever—since they have found themselves truly moved by its truth.”
Raymond says this reveals more of a problem with the person than the Bible.
“The Bible is not boring,” he says. “Many of us are too infatuated with the trivial to even appreciate something of substance. We jump from one mindless triviality to another day after day.”
Like pink glitter shorts, for example.
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AARON WILSON (@AaronBWilson26) is associate editor for Facts & Trends.