"[The Rise and Fall of the Bible author Timothy] Beal would prefer that people read the Bible as if it were a work of art -- that is, as a text permitting multiple interpretations and as a spur to further thought and self-examination rather than as the last word on all of life's enigmas. Or, as he rather fetchingly puts it at one point: 'This is poetry, not pool rules.' His approach is, of course, more congenial to nonbelievers than the conviction that the Bible describes historical facts and constitutes the 'inerrant' word of God...Beal thinks the current boom in biblical consumerism amounts to a 'distress crop,' the last great efflorescence of the old authoritative ideal before people move on and learn to embrace biblical ambiguity. I'm not so sure. Craving the certainty and absolutism of fundamentalism is a fairly common response (across many religious faiths) to the often terrifying flux of modern life. If certitude is the main thing American Christians are seeking when they turn to the Bible, then they're unlikely to tolerate, let alone embrace, Beal's 'library of questions' model."