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By Peter Novecosky, OSB
Abbot Peter NovokoskyMuseum highlights Bible

Emphasis on using the Scriptures is now commonplace in the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council marked a turning point in our approach to Scripture. The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) was approved 50 years ago, in 1965.

While many Christians may not have an informed knowledge of the development of the books of the Bible (and thus tend to fundamentalism), some Americans are spearheading an alternate approach to experience the bibilical world.

A museum now under construction in Washington plans to promote education, engagement and discussion of the Bible. The 40,000-square-metre museum will feature a 60-metre LED screen on the lobby ceiling, displaying a set of rotating images from Israel, Rome and Spain.
It will have a Foods of the Bible” restaurant “which will be inspired by the bazaars and markets of the Middle East,” according to a Catholic News Service report. It will also feature a “biblical garden” and an environmentally sustainable “green roof.” The facade will be modelled after various printed manuscripts of the Bible and will have stained-glass windows from Germany.

“This is a museum dedicated to one book,” Cary Summers, museum president, told reporters. “It’s the most widely sold book in history, most debated book in history and most banned book in history. It’s the one that has the most controversy of any book in history and it’s also the book that has impacted the world more than any single piece of literature that’s ever been written.”

Museum developers are consulting Christian and Jewish scholars for this project. The museum will have a whole wing devoted to as well as whole floors dedicated to “the impact of the Bible, the history of the Bible, and the narrative or stories of the Bible,” Summers explained.

Exhibits will feature pieces from different libraries around the world, as well as the museum’s own private collection of more than 44,000 items. They include dead sea scrolls fragments, Gutenberg portions, and papyrus fragments among others.

The museum has a “very strong working relationship” with the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library, according to Summers. “We’ve had two of our moving exhibits on display there. They’ve loaned us items and vice versa. We also have some of their people involved with us as advisers to this museum.”

The museum will try to bring the world of the Bible alive — as well as the faith of its visitors.

Religion in Britain

The decline of religion in Britian reveals a disturbing trend.

A survey of 1,500 adults released Feb. 12 by YouGov, a British market research firm, shows that as many as a third of all Britons do not believe in God or any kind of higher power.

The poll found that Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, and Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party, were viewed positively because they state openly that they don’t believe in God.

The poll shows a major divide between young people — who increasingly embrace atheism — and older people, who identify with their religious upbringing. Almost one in three under the age of 24 declare themselves to be atheists, compared with only one in 10 people over the age of 60.

Canada may not be as bad, but the trend to atheism is growing.