Note the subtlety of religious thought.
After a long absence, I am back. And dammit, we’re still in Exodus. WTF?? I thought that maybe some friendly gnomes and elves might at least labored during my long truancy and got us as far as Leviticus. By the blackened bowels of Christ, must I do everything around here! Damn supernatural creatures! Ever notice that they’re never quite as reliable as their reputation suggests. Think about that! We can’t just make shit up and expect it too work. Who’d have thought? Well, on second thought that would seem to be common sense, but alas, not as common as we would like.
Again Exodus 23/14… So Moses it still on the mountain listening to God’s rambling and faithfully jotting down every word, or maybe he’s smokin’ some weed and munchin’ on local the mushrooms. That’s actually the more likely scenario, but we must assume the first is true to proceed. Here we come to another of those so frequent sections where God outlines his plan for humankind, not for the benefit of us but for him. You see, it’s not enough for us to sing praises and follow his laws regarding sheep and virgins and such, and mere bloody animal sacrifices are insufficient to please him any longer. Now to make him happy, we must build great things to glorify him and have great feasts with him as the guest of honor.
God wants us to build him a house and throw a party. Yeehaw! Break out the steak, baby. God’s coming! And what kind of buildings would make God happy? Oh, don’t worry about that. Yahweh gives a precise blueprint for the temple that he demands to be honored in. Well, perhaps I should say a detailed description. Precision would indicate that I could figure out what the hell he was talking about. Detail? Well, any schizophrenic could give me rabidly detailed accounts of their inner thoughts. I still won’t understand, but they’ll be detailed, and you know, God is in the details… Or is that the devil? I forget. At any rate, ten-and-a-half freaking pages of detailed instructions are laid out in my Bible for building a temple and all its accouterments and how to use them. Remember the Ten Commandments? Those incredibly important instructions for how humanity was supposed to live with itself? Yeah, they have less than a page. And as for the ones that really deal with humanity rather than those glorifying God? 13 lines.
God allots a mere 13 lines for the greatest rules we are to live by, you know the ones theists want plastered throughout every school and courthouse as a panacea against all forms of evil, but then he goes on for a rather verbose 824 lines to detail the building and decorating of his house, the taxes to pay for it and a complete guide to the dress and comportment of his servants within. In case you wondering, yes, I counted every line, all 824 of them. This number doesn’t include the notes or the elaborate drawings included in my Bible detailing what God really meant. Pardon the irony, but thank God for those drawings. Without them, I’d have no idea what the hell he was talking about, and I build shit for a living. If an engineer walked onto a jobsite today with such blueprints, he’d be hanging from a tree by sundown.
And in case you’re wondering what kind of ratio this makes between those six commandments concerning people and those regarding the Temple building fund, (yes, some of you may actually wonder!) God spends 63 times more effort on his personal residence. Kind of shows us our relative degree of importance, doesn’t it. God spends more time explaining the temple’s candelabra than he does with us. Feel the love, baby. Feel it!
Of course, there are many other regulations outside those most important of commandments and we have seen some and will see many more. Many, many more. But are they for our good? Meh! We’ll see later.
First, let’s delve into the three great feasts demanded by God to honor him.
“Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me.”
To him? Well… all right, as long as it’s a feast. Although it seems quite arrogant for someone to declare a feast and insist it’s for his own glory, and still demand you bring all the food. But hey, it’s still a party, right? I love parties! Not to mention, I’m a fat guy. I especially love parties that are feasts! Count me in.
You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.
What? Unleavened bread! That stuff tastes like shit! What kind of party is this? Feast appears to be a bit of a misnomer here. Feasts to a fat guy have special meaning — tables laden with a wide variety of succulent dishes where I can gorge myself into a caloric coma, quivering and shuddering as my arteries slowly seal shut, gasping for breath as my abdomen expands into territory normally reserved for my lungs. (Damn, I think I just got aroused. BRB… Uh, where were we?) Ah yes, now that’s a feast, not a thick and chewy chunk of rough bread. Talk about a let down. I’d have had to grill the fat kid from the other tent to make up for my disappointment. At the very least, Yahweh would certainly be off of my Christmas card list for next year. Of course, this is in remembrance of the exodus from Egypt. But how boorish is that. ”Hey, remember that time when I saved you by forcing you to flee into the desert and almost starve? Yeah? Still remember it? Um… How about now? Hmmm… Just to make sure you never forget how great I am (Isn’t that a song?) I’m going to demand a yearly celebration in my honor because I’m such a great guy.” BYOB. (Bring your own bread… as long as it’s unleavened.)
“Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord God. You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor is the fat of My feast to remain overnight until morning. You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God.”
Ah, this is better — real food but seemingly only for the men. I’m not sure what the women did except for cook it. But again with the attitude, “I’m going to throw a great party in honor of me and you’re going to bring all the best food, and you’re going to pay for it all, and it’s mandatory, and only for men…” Bon Appetit!
Oh, the passage ends with one of my favorite non sequiturs of the entire Bible, “You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.” Yeah, I hate when they do that. It just seems rude.
As for the temple… Sigh. What in the hell could I possibly say about the ten pages of complex confusion encompassing the design of the temple and its furniture? Not much. Let me just state an example now. Here is the lampstand God demands to light his glory. You’d think that he’d make something slightly more impressive to illuminate the inside of his house like ball lightning or hawking radiation from a nano-black hole or something, but to do something that cool he’d actually have to exist. Since that nonexistence seems to be the real limiting factor in all his miracles, this is what he came up with.
“Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. Six branches shall go out from its sides; three branches of the lampstand from its one side and three branches of the lampstand from its other side. Three cups shall be shaped like almond blossoms in the one branch, a bulb and a flower, and three cups shaped like almond blossoms in the other branch, a bulb and a flower–so for six branches going out from the lampstand; and in the lampstand four cups shaped like almond blossoms, its bulbs and its flowers. A bulb shall be under the first pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the second pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the third pair of branches coming out of it, for the six branches coming out of the lampstand. Their bulbs and their branches shall be of one piece with it; all of it shall be one piece of hammered work of pure gold. Then you shall make its lamps seven in number; and they shall mount its lamps so as to shed light on the space in front of it. Its snuffers and their trays shall be of pure gold. It shall be made from a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils. See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.”
Got that. OK then get to work. This is really how it goes for several pages, and we thought the assembly manuals for a new bookcase or desk were written by the criminally insane. Yeah… Um, no comment, except to say, within does lie the description of Ark from Indiana Jones fame, one of my favorite movies as a child, and yes, the drawings in my Bible do look like the movie’s Ark. I wonder if its still stored in that warehouse? Damned government, hiding the proof for the existence of God like that… I’ll bet it’s right next to the film stage where they faked the moon landings too! Anyway, other than that bit of movie trivia, this section has little to offer. Let’s just jump ahead to chapter 28.
Alas, here it’s even worse. This whole chapter deals with how God wants his priests dress, and holy sheep shit, Batman, the level of detail here is numbing. I can barely read through this section without feeling like some set my brain to puree. I desperately want to cut and paste the entire section here to give you an example, but I am sure I’d lose half my readers if I did. So… Here’s a link. I urge you to peruse the inanity exhibited so proudly. Read it and tell me it doesn’t sound like grown men dressing up Barbies. Put the little ribbon here and the stone there… Oh that’s just so cute! Damn, if you don’t look divine!! Which, I guess, is the point. You can pull off the scam of the millennia if you just look good. It doesn’t matter how you feel, as long as you look mahvelous!
And that’s precisely what religion does — puts a veneer of glitter over a implausible and illogical core of fear — the ultimate carrot and stick– in fact, it’s a carrot wrapped around a stick… or a turd… I’m having trouble with the metaphor, actually. Anyway, Beauty and the Beast. But people are so desperate to see the beauty, they look no deeper than the surface. If they did they would see the beast lying directly under the gilding and glitter. They would see the fear guiding their every move. They may go to sleep with visions of holy sugarplums dancing through their heads, but it’s the fear that jolts them awake in the middle of the night.
Are they good enough? Are they saved? Will they burn? Will my parents? Will my children? You and I know that the answer to all this is no, but it really doesn’t matter. They’ll never know that all their fear is baseless. Sad really.
Christians always pity us for the fear of death they assume we have. Death to us is nothing. In the words of
Hutchinson Hudson from Aliens, “Game over, man. Game over.”
It’s way nicer that way.
Damn, it’s good to be back!