Bet you never thought you'd see a post title like that here. Amidst all the discussion in religious circles about "interpreting the bible," I can't help thinking that the fundamentalist Christians are on the right track. If we want to know what the bible says, we should read it. No interpretation is necessary.
I am convinced that most of what passes for biblical interpretation involves isolating a particular passage that makes us uncomfortable and attempting to convince ourselves that it doesn't mean what it says. When we find pervasive themes of cruelty, intolerance, violence, etc. throughout the bible, we have a hard time reconciling this with our Sunday school teachings that Christianity is about love. We then interpret away the literal meaning with something we have an easier time accepting.
The problem is that the bible is rather clear much of the time. This is a vengeful, punitive, violent sort of god. This is clear if we look at what the bible says rather than what we wish it said. Say what you will about fundamentalists, but it strikes me that they are somehow more honest in their focus on the actual words rather than an inferred meaning.