So over at Postmodernbarney, I was being terribly irreverent about the Bible, and maybe offended some people (I don't know), but it got me to thinking about how much I actually do respect the Bible as an important work of literature. We can laugh at outdated bits that are funny to us without disrespecting a body of work as a whole, right?
This is a comics blog, so let's take the Fantastic Four as an example. That's a huge body of work as well, a long story that's been going on for decades. It's been written by a plethora of different hands, and most of that story is canon. In spite of continuity clean-ups over the years, there are no doubt conflicting -- even contradictory -- plot points within the accepted canon. Human error demands it. Fans will find them, point them out, and choose to accept them, reject them, or explain them away. It's par for the course.
Fans will also find lots of goofy, dated material to laugh at. The humor may or may not be intentional, but in the end, it really doesn't matter because the people who take the time to read and find the goofy stuff probably have at least some respect for the work as a whole. They know that they'll read stories that are perplexing, pulse-pounding, poignant, even downright poetic*, and it's all worth it. (Well, most of it.)
The Bible is kind of like that. The multitude of writers; the contradictions; the cool stories; the poetry; and the laws about stoning oxen. Yes, the Bible is a million times more important than the Fantastic Four, but it seems to me this mindset works, or can work, whether you're tackling King James or King Kirby.
Seeing as it comes down to the ability to laugh at things, it might even be healthy!
*And they won't agree about the designations.