Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tennessee Wants the Bible for "Official State Book"

 A Tennessee state rep, one Jerry Sexton (R-Fartknocker) wants the state to designate an official State Book. Not just any book, mind you, but the Big One itself, the so-called Holy Bible.

Aside from the obvious constitutional church-state issues (First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...") it is not clear to me what that particular book has to do with Tennessee. It seems to me as though an official "state book" ought to somehow reflect the history, the culture, or the literature of the state it is the offical book of.

There are dozens of famous writers connected to Tennessee, from James Agee to Alex Haley to Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren, all of them having written significant books suitable for consideration. I personally would like to see either Haley's Roots: The Saga of An American Family or Warren's All the King's Men be chosen for Tennessee's official state book.

While we are at it, I note that Tennessee doesn't seem to have an official "state film" -- I'd like to remedy that by nominating Stanley Kramer's great 1960 classic, Inherit the Wind, the story of the infamous Scopes "Monkey Trial" starring Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond (the Clarence Darrow character),  Fredric March as Matthew Harrison Brady (William Jennings Bryan), Gene Kelley in a non-singing and dancing role as E.K. Hornbeck (H.L. Mencken ) and a young pre-Bewitched Dick York as Bertram Cates (John Scopes).

This is another of my "must-see cinema" entries. You can watch the trailer here:

But to see it in good quality, you need to get the DVD from Netflix.

See also the Inherit the Wind page on the IMDB.

Are you listening, Rep. Jerry Sexton?