The Corner

Of Biblical Proportions

You may have seen a story out of Flower Mound, Texas, a town in the Dallas-Fort Worth orbit: Its mayor, Tom Hayden, declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” Obviously, this Tom Hayden is much unlike the famous one. The mayor said his purpose was to “encourage all residents, in their own way, to examine the principles and teachings found in the Bible.”

You can imagine how that went over. We are reading about it nationally.

But I had a memory, and some readers will surely know what I’m going to say: President Reagan declared 1983 the “Year of the Bible” — the sort of thing that many Americans snort at. One of those motherhood-and-apple-pie gestures that are easy Saturday Night Live fodder.

But it mattered in the Gulag, where Natan Sharansky — then Anatoly Shcharansky — heard about it. For a time, he was able to study the Bible with a fellow prisoner named Volodya, and they called their sessions “Reaganite readings.”

I grant you, Flower Mound does not need a Year of the Bible as much as the Gulag did — or possibly as much as Portland, Ore., does. Maybe Portland could have a Year of I, Rigoberta Menchú or something?

Is every year, in many American communities, still a Year of Rigoberta? Or has she been supplanted by some other sage? (I’ll have to consult the NEA.)