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Customizing the Bible Like the Pandora Radio Program

One of the marvels of the Internet age is Pandora radio. When you listen to a radio station on terrestrial or satellite radio, you have to listen to every song played. You can change the channel, but you can't change the song. You're stuck with whatever you're given. But that's not so on Pandora. On Pandora, you put in different singers, bands, or songs that you like; and they use an algorithm to parse the music that you list. The algorithm asks, is this rock, or is it soft rock, or is it hard rock? Is it antiphonal? Does it have guitar leads? Does it have a front man? It analyzes what you like, and then it can incorporate other similar songs and artists into the mix. And by each song that's played Pandora puts a little thumbs-up sign and a little thumbs-down sign. When you click the thumbs-up sign, the algorithm is strengthened even more to your tastes, and it will play more music like that. If you click the thumbs-down sign, Pandora will just skip that particular song and bring up a different one for you to judge.

In an age where customization of lifestyle and belief has become the norm, this is often the way we approach the Bible. I like 1 Corinthians 13 about love; I don't like 1 Corinthians 11 about women. I like the Book of Joshua about God bringing the Israelites into the Promised Land; I don't like the parts of Joshua about killing people. I like Jesus, the baby in the manger; I don't like Jesus who calls a woman a dog. I like Jesus in the beatitudes; I don't like him when he talks about plucking out your eye and cutting off your hand. We tailor and customize our view of Scripture and, ultimately, our view of God. It's like we have our own internal algorithm all the time, sorting through and processing the biblical data to say, "Oh, I accept this part, I'll preach this part, this part is useful to modern society; but this other part I'm embarrassed—even ashamed—of."

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