Yesterday one of the sessions I attended dealt with misappropriation of sacred texts: not scripture, but literary texts that get adopted by individuals and groups to achieve their own ends. One very thought-provoking paper criticized a certain interest group for misinterpreting a literary text and appropriating it for the group's own purposes.
The indignation in the room was palpable, but here is my question: don't we all appropriate texts to our own purposes? And if it is easy for others to misinterpret texts, what makes us think we've got it right? It seems to me that this paper should spark not an attitude of superiority over the misguided souls who have mishandled texts but an deep sense of humility in our own handling of texts. Someday some more enlightened scholar will point to us with pity over how badly we've mishandled our own sacred texts. What poor misguided souls we are and how prone to error.