There was an English editor named Thomas Bowdler who, in the early 1800s, published the Family Shakespeare. This was a work that removed all the passages in Shakespeare that could possible give offense. "Out, out damn spot" became "Out crimson spot", etc. The overall sense was maintained, but the poetry and grittiness of Shakespeare removed. The man has become a verb, to bowdlerize is to "expurgate (a written work) by removing or modifying passages considered vulgar or objectionable." (thanks dictionary.com)

We as Christians do the same thing. I remember reading bedtime Bible stories to my sons when they were young. The stories were indeed Bowdlerized. Perhaps the supreme example of this was the old VeggieTales esisode of King George and the Ducky. Let's face it, this version of David and Bathsheeba is so cleaned up that almost nothing of the original remains. This always sorta bothered me about VeggieTales. Overall, I found them to be very creative and well-executed. But I somehow always thought that they were on surer ground when they were doing original stories, rather than bowdlerizing Bible stories.

There's a good book Phil Vischer wrote about the rise and fall of Big Ideas productions: Me, Myself and Bob. It was interesting enough. Phil didn't deal directly with many criticisms of their work, like Bowdlerizing.

I always thought that a good way to counter the criticism of playing fast and loose with the Biblical text would be to take a text ultra literally. Computer animation or CGI would be a perfect medium to present some of the stranger prophetic passages. A good warm-up could be the vally of dry bones from Ezekiel 37. The one I'd really like to see would be the rebuilt temple and kingdom from Ezekiel 40 and following. Imagine the voice-over simply reading the passage and the corresponding visual building up everything that's described. It could all be white rectangular solids, then when the narrator says that they were made of wood or had carvings on them like palm trees, the texture map gets applied to the white solids. Maybe someday somebody will take a run at it.

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