Monday, May 22, 2017

Hate Mail - All Or Nothing Works A Lot Better For The Bill of Rights Than It Does The Bible

I am asked why, if the 6-day creation fable isn't literally true why anyone should believe the 10 Commandments.  Well, do you want someone who really hates you to not believe that thou shalt not kill?  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods?   Someone who sleeps around and has a very high probability of carrying an incurable STD and want to covet your spouse or partner or whatever figure there's no prohibition against it?   Well, I'll grant that some of these ideas are sufficiently involved so as to tax the attention span of, apparently, many.

The Bible is a very large number of texts by a very large number of people over a very large number of years, times, cultural milieus and, I'd say, of varying levels of inspiration.   It is an anthology and the cultural expectations under which those texts were written and the audiences and expectations of how the authors thought the texts would be taken varies, as well.  Some of it is to be taken quite literally, thou shalt not kill, for example.  Though, in the way of people, exceptions to that were sought and the texts contain those, even claiming that God ordered them to kill people.  I certainly don't believe that God ever told anyone to commit genocide as is contained in Exodus and other books of the collection.

People seem to be able to ignore it with no problem when quite specific commandments aren't in any way contradicted in the collection.  Especially the commandments to treat the poor, the dispossessed, THE ALIEN LIVING AMONG YOU, as you would want to be treated yourself.   Even people who believe themselves to be Biblical literalists don't seem to have any problem ignoring those far more frequently given justice commandments.

I wish, with all my heart, that I'd not become an agnostic by the time that Walter Brueggemann was writing his early works because if I'd read his way of reading the Bible, informed by his own intense scholarship and that of his predecessors, in which all of those contexts are considered and taken into account, I could have been learning from texts I'd pretty much put aside to read things like the literature that includes the materialism of Carvarka.  Though, who knows, maybe I was led that way so I could make the point I did yesterday.

Do you want to give up the items in the Bill of Rights because the same document, written by and adopted by the same people who wrote and adopted it embedded slavery, discrimination against women, the enhancement of the rights of the rich and the propertied, the idiotic anti-democratic Electoral College that produced both George W. Bush and Donald Trump as presidents?   They all did that in the same room, at the same time, not removed by centuries, cultures and literary forms.  That question makes a lot more sense than insisting that you have to accept every word of the Bible as literally true or you have to reject all of it. But sense doesn't seem to enter into your question.  Or much in the way of having read the thing.

Update:  No, I wouldn't kill you if it didn't say that in the 10 Commandments, I wouldn't even pull the plug on you just to get you off line.  Though if this were vaudeville, I might get the hook to get you off stage for the good of the show.  You're a schmuck but you're not on the list of those I'd contemplate killing.  You're not dangerous.

Update 2:  So the answer is yes, you think I should kill you and, yes, you should give up the Bill of Rights because of the ban on abolishing slavery, the slave holder enabling 3/5th rule, the unrepresentative Senate that gives the residents of some of our most benighted states 20 times the political strength of the residents of California, that disenfranchised women, the stinking Electoral College that gave us Bush II and Trump?

Somehow, I don't think you're being consistent.   If I were you I'd accuse you of having endorsed Al Haig for president right about now because you're a celebrity addled Mort Sahl fan boy.  Because that's how your twisted thinking works.   Me, I figure that, as Brueggemann and virtually all responsible Biblical scholarship holds now and an impressive amount of it has held for millennia that you can't understand the scriptures literally the way you would believe what ....... TigerBeat or its groovy NYC equivalent prints.

Wait!  Village Voice.  That's the rag I was trying to remember the name of.   Allergy meds.  They make me think like an Eschatot an hour after I have to take them.

Update 3:  A. The Bible was written by people of varying inspiration, which I'll go into later because I'm drug addled enough to mock you but some things take more clarity.  B. The Constitution and the founders are worshiped as divine writ, the ACLU as well as the Federalist Society,  some members of the Supreme Court and a myriad of those in the scribbling class treat it as such.   You got your knickers in a twist when I made fun of the current pop-kulcha idol among them, Hamilton.  Or, rather, Lin Manuel Miranda's phony rapping, boogying, what is it like seven-hundred a ticket fictionalized version of the jerk and his slave-holding wife and sister-in-law.  Geesh, put satin and a spot light on anything with a crappy book and score and it turns into a god for you guys.

Update 4:  Hey, you don't have to take my word for that.   Read this passage from Ishmael Reed's take on Hamilton.  Note, especially that last line.

Establishment historians write best sellers in which some of the cruel actions of the Founding Fathers are smudged over if not ignored altogether. They’re guilty of a cover-up.

This is the case with Alexander Hamilton whose life has been scrubbed with a kind of historical Ajax until it sparkles. His reputation has been shored up as an abolitionist and someone who was opposed to slavery. Not true.

Alexander Hamilton married into the Schuylers, a slaveholding family, and participated in the bartering of slaves. One of “Hamilton’s” actors, Renee Elise Goldsberry (“The Color Purple”), who visited the Schuyler home, said the Schuyler sisters, “were the Kardashians” of 1780 — superstars, but with dignity and grace.” Maybe they were able to maintain “dignity and grace” because they had 27 slaves serve them. Black women whose labor assignments left them little time to preen. Is this actor disregarding, callously, that the sisters thrived on the labor of enslaved women? No, she probably attended the same schools that I attended. A curriculum that endowed slave traders and Indian exterminators with the status of deities.


  1. "I am asked why, if the 6-day creation fable isn't literally true why anyone should believe the 10 Commandments."

    Oh, so you're one of those cafeteria religionists? You get to pick which of the stuff in the bible is actually the revealed word of God and which stuff isn't?

    In the immortal words of the Church Lady -- well, how conVEEEEEEEEEnient.

  2. Either the Bible is the revealed word of some deity TBA or it isn't. And if it isn't, it's just another book of myths and legends, with all the moral authority that implies.

  3. "The Constitution and the founders are worshiped as divine writ, the ACLU as well as the Federalist Society, some members of the Supreme Court and a myriad of those in the scribbling class treat it as such. "

    That's so true. I worship every Saturday at my neighborhood Synagogue of the Constitution, the Founders, and the SCOTUS.

  4. BTW, I have not seen Hamilton, have no intention of seeing Hamilton, nor of buying or listening to the original castCD. Nor is Miranda a pop idol of mine. These are fantasies of your own invention, along with your repeated assertion that I am an atheist.

  5. "I am asked why, if the 6-day creation fable isn't literally true why anyone should believe the 10 Commandments."

    I swear, some of the people who write to you make 7 year olds look wise and perspicacious.

    1. How did you guess it was Simels?

      I'm tempted to post his comments because they're even stupider than the parts I choose to answer. But I'm trying to bring the blog up a notch.

  6. "I'm trying to bring the blog up a notch."

    Good luck with that.