Monday, March 09, 2009

Is that a Bible in your pocket?

This morning, Jenny was watching CNN while I shuffled around, preparing for work. I've been borderline sick for over a week and this morning was particularly rough, so I was only half listening.

When they covered the story of yesterday's church shooting, I looked up long enough to see this headline:

Bible Stops Bullet.

Huh. OK, one of the crazy man's shots did hit the pastor's Bible, but as the Good Book didn't, you know, actually save the man, isn't this a little weird to run as a headline? I mean, if the Bible had come through and saved the guy, great, but it didn't.

What was the editor thinking when he wrote this?

Here you have a minister murdered in front of his congregation by a man reportedly made crazy by Lyme's Disease, who then stabbed himself in the neck as he was wrestled to the ground by several brave congregants.

So, what's the lede? What is the most important part of this story? It's been a long time since I flirted with a journalism career, but I know it's not Bible Stops Bullet.

Weird. America loves its Bible-stopping-bullet stories. There were over 2 million Google responses to my search.

One guy even tested whether a Bible carried in a breast pocket could really stop a slug. He shoots a lot of bullets at a lot of books. I wish I'd thought of that.

Which leads me to a story Woody Allen told back when he was funny:

Years ago, my mother gave me a bullet...a bullet, and I put it in my breast pocket. Two years after that, I was walking down the street, when a berserk evangelist heaved a Gideon bible out a hotel room window, hitting me in the chest. Bible would have gone through my heart if it wasn't for the bullet.

So far, my Monday sucks pretty hard. Maybe the time change screwed up my internal clock. I don't know. But I hope your day is better.


Anonymous said...

My Dad liked to tell his WWII story about how a bullet went thru his Bible that he left in his seat while throwing up in back of the plane. Unfortunately, years later all the prayers being said couldn't save him during heart surgery.....just wasn't his time in WWII. I agree the CNN lead was stupid, maybe the writer had Lymes.

EagleEye said...

No... the headline would make people want to read the story, IMO. I know it would catch my attention.

But it IS kind of dumb to lead with it if the end result is a fatality.

Yay for modern journalism. :)

JD Rhoades said...

The "bible-stopped a bullet" story seems to be a recurring legend down through history. I've read versions of it from the Civil War, both World Wars, and Korea. It's a meme in the traditional sense of that word (rather than the annoying Internet sense).

Anonymous said...

"a bullet...a bullet" visualized Woody actually telling the story.
Your attention to detail is what makes you a great listener and therefore a great writer. Nice story and even nicer editing.


Gerard Saylor said...

I had that joke on a comedy album by Woody Allen. That was the same album where retold of his wedding. "We were married by a Reform rabbi in Long Island. A very Reform rabbi. A Nazi.

Gerard Saylor said...

Oh, boy. I just found all the jokes from that album online: