Shrewd subways vs. sage scriptures: A comparison |

Shrewd subways vs. sage scriptures: A comparison

Barry Smith

I think I upset the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But not on purpose. They stopped by and asked what I thought of the Bible as a source of guidance. I said it was fine, but then again, so was the phone book.I was only half joking. I personally believe that guidance is available anywhere, if you’re open to it. If you need to be guided toward a plumber, then the phone book is probably your best bet. If you need to be reminded that you are a wretched sinner who is under the constant scrutiny of a fierce and judgmental God, then by all means, pick up a Bible.Since that JW encounter I decided to put my theory to the test, and have written several columns comparing the guidance found in the Bible to the guidance found in the Yellow Pages, random overheard quotes, instruction manuals and warnings posted in my health club.I’ve spent the last few weeks in New York, so I think it’s only fair that I put the Bible head-to-head against the guidance offered in the place where people are most in need of guidance – the subway.BIBLE VS. SUBWAYBIBLE: John 3:36 – He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.SUBWAY: Holding train doors is dangerous. It also delays everyone. Be safe. Be considerate. Take the next train.SUMMARY: The Bible is just so black and white. You either believeth, or you get the wrath of God. The subway version is so much more conducive to happiness. Hey, it’s cool, no big deal – there’s always another train on the way. Subway 1, Bible 0.BIBLE: 1 Corinthians 8:1 – Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.SUBWAY: Give to charity. Just not here. Panhandling on the subway is illegal, whether by individuals or charities.SUMMARY: This one is tough. I see where the subway is coming from, but sometimes it’s worth giving the guy with vomit on his shirt your spare change just so he’ll keep moving. I’m not sure if it “edifieth,” but it seems like 53 cents well spent. Gotta give this one to the Bible.BIBLE: Genesis 11:9 – Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth.SUBWAY: Learn English! (800) ENGLISHSUMMARY: Really, whose side is God on, anyway? At least the subway ad is trying to help, but what are your chances when the Almighty is busy confounding the language of all the Earth?BIBLE: Deuteronomy 5:17-20 – Thou shalt not kill. Neither shalt thou commit adultery. Neither shalt thou steal. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.SUBWAY: Air conditioned car. Please close windows.SUMMARY: I’ll be the first to admit that killing, stealing and false witness bearing sound like good things to avoid. However, were you to catch someone letting precious cold air escape from a subway car in August, well – suddenly killing seems justified.I think the Ten Commandments in general would benefit from being more subwaylike in its approach. For instance, one sign I saw reads, “No smoking. No litter. No radios.” But not in words – in those little cartoons with the red lines through them. If the Ten Commandments were presented in graphic form, far more people would respond to them, and I’m sure the one about adultery would be quite amusing.BIBLE: Deuteronomy 5:7 – Thou shalt have none other gods before me.SUBWAY: “Contribute to a cleaner subway. Every litter bit helps.”SUMMARY: The subway gives us cute word play, the Bible gives us stern, not-so-thinly-veiled threats. Hey, Bible, how about this, “Having more gods reduces your odds.” Huh? Lighten up a little bit. Sheesh.BIBLE: Nehemiah 3:14 – But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab, the ruler of part of Bethhaccerem; he built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.SUBWAY: Do not lean on door.SUMMARY: I think the Bible has the right idea. If the subway went into specifics as to why I shouldn’t lean on the door, like the fact that it is made of dung, well …(Next Time: “The Bible vs. the rantings of lunatics on the sidewalks of New York.”)Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is, and his very own Web page is at

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