Posts Tagged ‘ Moses ’

How Not to Sacrifice ( a Lesson In Two Charred Parts)

The incomparable Brick Testament's take on this story. Brilliant!

Leviticus 10.

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.

WTF!  Holy seared siblings, Batman! God is such a badass! Yeah, because… well… he, uh…  Burned them to death for… Um…  What exactly?  Sacrificing without a permit? Making offering inappropriately?  Maybe they messed up the magic words like Ash in Army of Darkness.  “Klaatu Barada N… Necktie… Neckturn… Nickel… It’s an “N” word, it’s definitely an “N” word!“  Oh, You gotta love Army of Darkenss, but, seriously,  WTF?  Does God insist that he give a command before we pray to him?  Which, seemingly, would be my problem.  Apparently, I’m still waiting for the command.  I’m a sleeper cell closet Christian just waiting for some goddamned word.

So the Lord of Genocide kills people for worshipping him without his direct orders and that does have some interesting corollaries.  For instance, if that’s the case then the whole school prayer issue should be a moot point. C’mon people, knowing what we now know, it’s obvious that allowing prayer in schools would be a disaster. For their own protection schools would have to forbid any mention of God within their bounds.  Well, at least any to the Judeo-Christian God, anyway.

Oh, the horror of children spontaneously bursting into flames whenever they whispered a prayer to the Lord.  Holy shit!  Think about it!  The days leading up to the final exams would be an veritable fiery apocalypse. The burned and charred corpses of penitent students would litter the classrooms and hallways amid smoldering texts and  seared backpacks.  Just imagine the scene!  A small whispered prayer, a popping sound, and then the screaming would start.  Oh the screaming again.  And the smell!  Oh my God! The smell!  !  When will we ever learn people?  Obviously our education system would rapidly collapse in an righteous inferno all brought about by prayer in school.  Not to mention the prohibitive cost of fire insurance…

No.  It is clear that prayer in school must be forever forbidden.  Will someone, for the love of G… Um…  Just think of the children!

Seriously though, why did God kill them?  Was it because they “offered a strange fire before the Lord.”  Is that really so bad?  What in the sacred shit of Jesus is a “strange fire” anyway?  Well, I don’t know about the rest of you but that sure sounds like euphemism for pot.   Not that I am terribly familiar with the whole concept, good beer or wine being my drug of choice, but I was young once.  I know strange fires!  Were the sons of Aaron simply stoners, laying around all day offering strange fires to the Lord then trying to round up some manna and quail when the munchies hit?

Dude!  I mean, like, duuude!  Has anyone, like, seen my bird?  Fuck man, I put him right there!

Or is this something else.  We have already discussed (Yeah, a long time ago.  I know!) that if there is any truth at all to the statement “fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering” it was very likely some kind of accelerant, the bronze age equivalent of gasoline used to awe the people into submission.  Did these two boneheads somehow manage use a little too much?  Did they spill it on themselves?  We’re they “playing with fire?”  Were they the ancient equivalent of the jackass who thinks that grilling requires one part charcoal and three parts lighter fluid and then sits around bitching about having no eyebrows and a reddish puffy look “tan”?

Or maybe it was a combination.  Like guns and alcohol, I’d imagine that “strange fire” and real fire would have to be a bad combo.  Truly, I’m not sure how long I’d last smokin’ a few joints, chewing a shroom or two and then playing with gasoline and matches.  Beautiful as I am, I too could earn the fury of the Lord.

Or… Or were these two the victims of something worse, something more sinister.  Remember that there has been quite a bit of tension between Moses and Aaron.  Aaron, the jackwipe, had already proved his untrustworthiness by sacrificing to the Golden Calf.  Were his sons part of the earlier rebellion and still pushing the limits?  Remember that Moses wasn’t exactly shy about killing several thousand people to regain control then.  Why would he stop at killing Aaron’s sons now?  Anyone who thinks that violence never solves anything really needs to look at Moses and his lackey, the Lord Genocide. Their motto has forever been, “Why do something peacefully and decent when you can kill dozens of  people and get the same result?”  Violence solved all of Moses’ problems.

Pure speculation, I know, but it’s intriguing.  Look at the next few lines.

Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 
’By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, 
And before all the people I will be honored.'” 
So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.  Moses called also to Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come forward, carry your relatives away from the front of the sanctuary to the outside of the camp.” So they came forward and carried them still in their tunics to the outside of the camp, as Moses had said. Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you will not die and that He will not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which the LORD has brought about.

Moses won’t even allow any mourning to be done for them.  He and he alone knows how the Lord Death demands his sacrifices and that is bloody, burnt and with Moses at the center.  Those trying to curry favor with the Lord without Moses in the loop are begging for trouble.

Honestly, doesn’t this sound like just another of Moses power plays?  Trickery and  murder to stay on top of “his” people.  Smoke and mirrors and blood and no one doubts his power.  Those who did are dead.  Those on the edge are terrified.

Regardless in how you interpret this, there is little here to understand.

The chapter goes on in nearly incomprehensible detail, but the most interesting thing about the entire page is in the note at the bottom regarding these deaths. Here is the modern interpretation of this passage.  “Their death was tragic and at first seems harsh, but no more than Ananias and Sapphira in Acts.  In both cases a new era was being inaugurated.  The new community had to be made aware that it existed for God, not ice versa.”

God does not exist for us, we exist for God, and of course, the implication that he can do any damned thing he desires to us.  If this book has anything more insidious within its pages I am yet unaware of it.  I know there will be many Christians out there who will jump to God’s defense.  Just do a search of “Nadab and Abihu” and read some of the amusingly twisted results.  This disgusting example of theistic apologetics is among the worst. But all of them seem to orbit around the old and worn bone of  “Of course we exist for him. He created us.”  But that’s like saying that my son exists for me and not me for him, and that is bullshit!

To my mind this expresses exactly the opposite sentiment that we all really need to believe.  We exist to protect our children.  They do not exist to serve our every whim.  Our overall purpose is to raise them to be fully functional adults.  Men and women who are complete on their own, independent of even us.  We want our children to love us. Sure. But we don’t cripple them with such a dependency on us that they are unable to function on their own, loving us out of a sick fear that we’ll harm them or cut them out of the will.  What kind of “Father” actually does that?

A shitty, psychotic father, that’s who.

The entire goal of parenthood is to take a newborn being who is so utterly dependent on you and your decisions and teach them to be utterly independent and able flourish on their own and without help.  Breeding pathological dependency into the beings you create is evil.  They deserve far better.

To put it another way, the ambition of parenthood is to make our children better than we are.  The goal of godhood, on the other hand, is to cripple them to assure yourself that they will never even approach that level.  He’s #1 and will always remain that way.  Yay God!

What a dick!

What’s God Got To Do With It? (Nothing)

God. File photo. Circa... always.

Well, here I am again after a long absence.  No excuses.  I’m a lazy moron crushed by divergent responsibilities.  I apologize.  Onward.

Leviticus  1-9

When we last looked, Aaron, knife in hand,  had slashed his way through a  multitude of bloody sacrifices, seemingly one for every occasion.  Feel guilty about a particular sin in your past?  Amazingly, Aaron always has an animal that can be butchered and toasted to carry away your guilt.  Shocking isn’t it?  Offend God by some small sin?  Offer him a burned and bloody mess, and he’ll forgive you.  Offend him with a greater sin?  Give him an even bigger bloody and charred mess, and things’ll be fine.  There’s little doubt that God does get a bit of a woody from charred flesh, but it’s a wonder that there were any animals left.  Was there anything left for mere people to eat?  Remember that this was the same time that the Hebrews were starving and had to be fed by bread falling from the sky and quail stumbling into the camps and spontaneously combusting.  Yet here they are throwing animals on the  fire to be uselessly burned, all to appease some idea of a vengeful God.  This is just senseless like much else in religion.

Let’s think about this.  Does it make sense in the overall scheme of things?  Could your sins be carried away by the death and barbequing of some animal flesh?    Perfectly logical, right??  Um… Sure, that is if you’re a bronze-age animal-herding tribes-person who is desperately seeking any explanation on how their world works.  Today???  After a trip through modern public education??? Not so much.

The very idea that I could atone for cheating on my wife by taking one of our animals out and ceremonially slaughtering it is ludicrous.  Let me be clear.  Although I’m an atheist, I like the concept of sin.  Bear with me here; I know I’m in dangerous territory. Don’t we all harm people in our day to day lives?  Simply in being human, we create havoc in this world with our unnecessary cruelties  and heartless actions.  People are constantly destroying the things they love through callousness and stupidity, ignorance and fear, through… just being human.  I have no difficulty in calling these persistent human atrocities sin. In addition, I want to live in a world where some sort of atonement is required.  We can’t just say, “Oops.” and go on with our lives.  We should all try to atone for the pain we have caused. Whether it sins against our brother or crimes against our planet, we should try our damnedest to make it better.

The concept of justice has always burned rather fiercely in me.  Even as a child, the thought of someone getting away with injustice kept me awake far into the night.  I stand by this moral system.  Atoning for our sins and crimes is essential for becoming a better society. We need to attempt to fix the damage we have done.  We need an internal sense of self justice.  I understand that this may sound like an archaic idea for an atheistic progressive, yet it was this concept that became central to my fleeing my fundamentalist background.  It was the sheer unfairness of the Bible that drove me forth and made me both atheistic and liberal.

Therefore, the concept of sin doesn’t bother me.  My problem lies with the idea that when we sin, we sin against a god.  How can this be?  Our sins are against our fellow humans and the world we live in.  Against God??? Never!  To atone for our sins or wrongs we must attempt to rectify what we have done with the people harmed and not with some invisible, space-dwelling superman.  God has nothing to do with this!  If I harm my child, it is not to God that I must atone, it is my son.  If I harm my wife, not only must it be to her that I will atone, but God is a jackass for even trying to intrude on that debt.  God deserves nothing in this transaction.  Nothing!  Even allowing for his existence, which I do not, he is simply not part of the equation.  It is between the harmed and the harmer, not some giant, invisible, butt-plug constantly lurking overhead!!

Only if I could possibly harm an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-seeing deity, a perfect being, could he ever deserve some form of atonement.  Doesn’t the very definition of perfection proclaim that anything I do cannot harm him?  Isn’t that what all powerful means.  How religions insist that their gods are all powerful and yet have the sensitivity and temperament of an infant is beyond me.  But let’s allow this too. I seem to be in the mood for allowing illogical impossibilities so let’s give him the exalted position of omnipotent fucking baby.  Think about this.  If my sins against my fellows really does make baby Jesus cry, shouldn’t my atonement to my injured brothers and sisters be the reparation he requires?  Why must I kiss his deified ass too?   What could this possibly accomplish?

If we think about the entire concept, it’s really like a tax on sin.  God, like any overbearing bureaucratic government, demands his cut of the atonement, a pain tax.  Like some Mafia boss, the God of godfathers, if someone’s going to be paying for a sin, he demands his share and fuck anyone who doesn’t like it.

This is an idea so absurd that I am continually appalled that there are still modern, educated people who still believe it.  I know I’ve said this before, but to me the single biggest proof that we are not intelligently designed is the utter nonsense that we insist is true in spite of the world of evidence refuting it.  We are simply too stupid to have been designed by anything other than evolution.

What I do find quite ironic in this entire section, particularly as an American in the midst of the great tax debate, is that this sin tax was a graduated one.  A Hebrew was only required to bring and burn what he could afford.  The poor paid considerably less than the rich for the same service.  Even then the wealthy were held more accountable for their errors than the poor.  The sacred idea of a flat tax which the right wing in this country hold onto as a fifth gospel just doesn’t seem to jive with this part of the Bible.  Not that the Bible has any validity when it might possibly conflict with greed, but… well… that’s a topic for a different discussion.

But can anyone refute that even God believed in taxing the rich more.

I’m just sayin’

Finally! Proof that he is real!

Ooh! Ooh! Hot thing!

Leviticus 9/23

OK then! As we remember from the last episode the sacrifices have been made in all of their gory detail, and apparently heaps of dead carcasses lie on the blood soaked earth outside the tent of meeting waiting for… Well, something.

Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

Hooray! Another of God’s fabulous miracles.   Fire actually roared out onto sacrificial meat, and everyone was awed.   Damn… Well people, this one leaves me stumped.  Could this be the proof we have been searching for?   Could this be the culmination of the true quest of my blog–the quest to find God?  Why, yes!  Yes, it is. Why, now it seems obvious that God is real, for how else could this have been pulled off.  By mere trickery and fraud?  No!  By the charred corpse of Saint Lawrence, it’s fire, or shit’s sake!  It’d only been around for three or four hundred thousand years.  That’s just not enough time to learn a few simple tricks.  How could these primitive people who had just escaped centuries of slavery from one of the most advanced civilizations on the planet ever know much about fire.  How could they possibly have known about pitch, tar or other accelerants many of which had only been around for several millennia and then known to pour said accelerants over the animals to have them roar into flame?  I mean these are tricks that would take us at least six or seven minutes to accomplish today using any number of common household chemicals.

To have the fire come out and consume the sacrifice as stated, the priests would have to have access to some kind of oil-like substance like the oil that has been seeping out of the ground for millions of years.  By the rancid bowels of Buddha, they were walking around the Arabian Peninsula, and everyone knows what a paucity of oil they have in that land.  Sure they may have been able to fake it if they had some access to another kind of oil.   You know like the kind they burned in the lamp they made for the Tabernacle…  Or alcohol which… they… drank…  Um…  Or pine pitch… or…

Well… I admit it’s true that dried animal dung when powdered and thrown in a heaping handful over a campfire will produce an impressive column of fire, but tell me all you fucking skeptical geniuses, where would simple goat and sheep herders possibly find enough animal dung to do this?  Riddle me this?  Hmm?

Um…   Hey wait just a minute…   Shit!

Goddamn it.  Back to square one.

And Now For Something Completely Different, Leviticus.

Leviticus 1-9

So Aaron came near to the altar and slaughtered the calf of the sin offering which was for himself.  Aaron’s sons presented the blood to him; and he dipped his finger in the blood and put some on the horns of the altar, and poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar.  The fat and the kidneys and the lobe of the liver of the sin offering, he then offered up in smoke on the altar just as the LORD had commanded Moses.  The flesh and the skin, however, he burned with fire outside the camp.

Then he slaughtered the burnt offering; and Aaron’s sons handed the blood to him and he sprinkled it around on the altar. They handed the burnt offering to him in pieces, with the head, and he offered them up in smoke on the altar. He also washed the entrails and the legs, and offered them up in smoke with the burnt offering on the altar.

 Then he presented the people’s offering, and took the goat of the sin offering which was for the people, and slaughtered it and offered it for sin, like the first. He also presented the burnt offering, and offered it according to the ordinance. Next he presented the grain offering, and filled his hand with some of it and offered it up in smoke on the altar, besides the burnt offering of the morning.

 Then he slaughtered the ox and the ram, the sacrifice of peace offerings which was for the people; and Aaron’s sons handed the blood to him and he sprinkled it around on the altar. As for the portions of fat from the ox and from the ram, the fat tail, and the fat covering, and the kidneys and the lobe of the liver, they now placed the portions of fat on the breasts; and he offered them up in smoke on the altar. But the breasts and the right thigh Aaron presented as a wave offering before the LORD, just as Moses had commanded.

And much like a Monte Python sketch, Leviticus starts with absurdity and blood.  And more blood.  And still more blood.  And so on.  I’m sure by now you know the drill.

Remember the good old days when I could carry on rhapsodically over the senselessness of a single sentence.  Allow me to assure everyone that this isn’t one of those days.  The entire first nine chapters of this book follows a similar vein to what I have quoted here.  Similar?  Shit!  To the uninformed (aka. Rational) being, it’s impossible to tell the difference from one chapter to the next.  For eleven pages we get to dwell on the proper way to sprinkle blood and where to pour it after that.  So much blood was spilt in the sand in front of the altar that God’s tabernacle must have reeked like rotting corpses and decaying meat.

Sigh.  Here I was struggling to get past Exodus with all its sacrifice and glorifying Moses and his God, but what do I find upon opening up Leviticus?  An eleven page essay on the various ways that God wants you to sacrifice animals to himself.  It’s like a cookbook for how to make God happy.  It’s an amazingly simple formula really.  Violate some taboo?  Sacrifice a goat.  Light a fire on the Sabbath?  Sacrifice a goat.  Get caught fucking a goat?  Sacrifice the goat.  Well… there is that stipulation about unblemished and clean.  I’ll get back to you on that one.

Oh, if only life were so blessedly simple.  For every sin I committed, every person I hurt, every lie I told, all I would have to do to atone would be to take some helpless beast and slaughter it, burning a good chunk in a fire, of course, and I would be forgiven.  God will be fine with you violating his commandments as long as you bloodily butcher something  for him…  And, of course, burn it on a fire.  Because that makes God happy.  Oh so happy.  God loves to see things burn.

And let’s be honest here, who could refuse to be pleased with someone who butchers a harmless beast for you, pours its blood around an altar to you, dabs drops of it here and there in honor of you, then wastes the large majority of the meat by burning it to a cinder.  All for me?  Gosh!  Just what I’ve always wanted, blood dripping everywhere, while perfectly good meat transformed into a  inedible charred corpse which no one is allowed to eat.  No one!  Can you believe it?

Oh, the fat guy in me screams with the injustice of it all.  Not one goddamned bite?  Are you fucking kidding me?  A bat-shit crazy barbecue where no one is allowed a single lamb chop?  Disgusting.  And what does dear old God get out of all of this?  Hmm?  Apparently, he likes the smell.  It seems the aroma is pleasing to him.  By a refried Christ, widows and orphans going hungry and they waste hundreds of pounds of meat because the smell of burning flesh gives Yahweh a chubby.  OK, I’ll admit that I’ve been a little aroused before by the smell of cooking meat, but that is only in anticipation of the eventual meal.  Burning it just for the aroma?  Perverted!  Unnatural!  Evil!  Every ounce of my cellulite screams for revenge!  I must have justice!

Oh, the great genocide of the Flood angered me.  The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah pissed me off.  But this… this…  Depravity.  Yahweh, you son-of-a-bitch, you go too far.  Fat people of the world unite!

Yahweh, the pisser on chubby men, has a new enemy, and his name is Bundy!  265 pounds of quivering anger are coming your way you prick.

By Yahweh’s testicles turning on a spit, I will have my revenge!

Hmm?  I wonder how… ? Oh, never mind.

The Tabernacle Revisited. Again.

Behold the wonders of God... Um... Well, let's give it a second... Is this thing on?

Exodus 35 to 40.

We all know sometimes I have a tendency to get bogged down in a small section of the Bible and expound on it at length.  I can write a thousand words on a meaning of a single sentence in large part because those certain sentences contain so much of what I find absurd… And, of course, I always find it difficult to shut the hell up.  As any long time reader of this blog will know, a meaningless law, an absurd restriction, or an illogical divine demand can set me off on a rant and keep there until I have exhausted myself.  You people simply have no idea how much work it actually is just to be me.

However, this is not going to be one of those days.

Remember several chapters back when we went over Exodus’ endless, coma-inducing detail on God’s tabernacle instructions?  Well, Exodus finishes with a nearly complete recapitulation of that event.  Yeah. I know.  I just read it thrice.   To be honest it’s not exactly the same.  The first one was how God wanted it built and this one is the Hebrews actually building it.

For example, here is the original in Exodus 25

“They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high. “You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it.  “You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it.  “You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.  “You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them.  “The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it.

“You shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you.
”You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide.  “You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat.  “Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. “The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat.  “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you.

And here is the mildly condensed version in Exodus 37.

Now Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood; its length was two and a half cubits, and its width one and a half cubits, and its height one and a half cubits; and he overlaid it with pure gold inside and out, and made a gold molding for it all around.  He cast four rings of gold for it on its four feet; even two rings on one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. He made poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold.  He put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry it.  He made a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide.  He made two cherubim of gold; he made them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat; one cherub at the one end and one cherub at the other end; he made the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at the two ends.  The cherubim had their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces toward each other; the faces of the cherubim were toward the mercy seat.

Yeah, I know.  Riveting.  I can’t wait for the movie.

Any brevity gained in the abridged version is lost with the lengthy descriptions of how happy the Hebrews were to give to their God.  They just gave and gave and gave until Moses himself had to put his foot down and say no more.  I am quite sure that’s true.  After Moses had slaughtered three thousand of them just a few days before during the Golden Calf fiasco, I’m quite sure that everyone was quite… um… willing, yeah, willing to give up their valuables.  All that congealing blood on the ground has a rather profound effect on generosity.


Once again a huge section of this book is not about human needs and human desires.  It’s not trying to get humans to be better.  It’s not about the wonders and beauties of science. It doesn’t say a damned thing about the Germ Theory of Disease or Natural Selection or Quantum Mechanics.  There’s not an iota of information that would make people live longer, healthy or more productive lives.  It’s all about glorifying God and by very close proxy, his chief priest, Moses.  No matter what Exodus is talking about the subject matter always returns to glorifying God.  It’s like that person at the dinner party who takes over every conversation and redirects it towards themselves.  Yeah.  I hate those people.

It becomes apparent that people in their ugly and squalid little lives are unimportant.  Their needs are irrelevant.  Humanity’s suffering is insignificant.  It’s God’s needs that are paramount here, his and his alone.  Page after page drip with his demands.  For example, his Sabbath must be observed as the second verse in Exodus 35 states so clearly and cruelly.

“For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a Sabbath of complete rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.

How sweet.  God brought us the weekend… under pain of execution.

People starved all over the world.  Sentient beings old and young died of terrible diseases.  Pain, suffering and sorrow ruled life utterly and what is God doing about it?  Healing them?  Teaching them medicine or crop rotation?  Making things better?  Fuck no!  He’s demanding his children build him a house.  With all the power he is reputed to have he does nothing about the condition of humanity but uses that power and the fear it generates to glorify himself.  Because to this God and his biggest fan that is what is supremely important; fear, glory and power.

Oh sure, Exodus has a few verses about protecting widows, a few more about strangers and others on the solving of property disputes.  If taken as a whole it’s three or four pages added together.  Contrast that with the 20 or so involved just with building and sanctifying the Tabernacle, a house whose sole purpose it to demand subservience and reverence.  Why?  What other purpose could it actually serve? It was built to increase the awe of the people and keep them in thrall.  This is the purpose.  This is the raison d’être.

Oh, I’m sure it also gave Moses a chubby, but let’s not dwell on that now.

It’s so obvious to anyone who really looks that in the church of that time, maintaining and increasing power ranked far above easing the suffering of the weak and helpless.  Back then God was only interested in his glory and the subservience of his worshipers.

But the real question you have to ask yourself is this.  With fundamentalist churches leading the way to cut spending for the poor, fighting ferociously against any kind of universal health care, screaming against medically necessary abortion, cutting taxes to the richest Americans and supporting corporate interests above any concerns with mere human beings, are today’s churches’ all that different?

For many of the purest and most fundamental Christian Churches, I think not.  The difference here is that the ancient Hebrews couldn’t have known any better.

We should.

I grow very weary of people whose entire message boils down to “I speak for God, and he, too, thinks you’re an asshole.”

Moses’ Shiny Face

Moses with your face so bright, won't you guide my face tonight.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”  So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

For 40 days and nights Moses rewrites the Ten Commandments.  40 days!  It was ten freaking commandments.  What the hell was he doing?  Inventing the script?  Hasn’t he already done this once before? And of course, to add to the myth he did it all without eating or drinking.  The chapter says nothing about pissing, or jacking off but I’ll just assume he also felt little need for these mere human requirements.  Myself… I would last more than a few days in any of these categories without a help of a deep coma, but then again I’ll never be the legend our friend Moses is.

It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.  So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers in the congregation returned to him; and Moses spoke to them.  Afterward all the sons of Israel came near, and he commanded them to do everything that the Lord had spoken to him on Mount Sinai.  When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.  But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.

Um… yeah.  Moses of the shiny face.  That’s… cool.  I guess.


I could go into the whole shiny face phenomena speaking endlessly (You know me) on the absurdities of that particular manifestation of God, but… no.  There is something else that has been pecking at the back of my skull for months now.   The shiny face is just a symptom of the underlying problem.  You see I’ve become fascinated with how Moses continually has to portray himself as the biggest badass on the planet.  The wonders he relates are seldom the miracles of God alone, but rather they are always presented as God’s power shining through Moses making it implicit that Moses is a necessary part of this formula. He is constantly finding it necessary to claim he is more important than anyone at anytime.  I know this is hard to understand but in these times, when he’s never satisfied, when he’s constantly looking inflate his own image, is when he seems the most real, the most human.  Not that I believe a thing written about his deeds. No.  No.  Decidedly, no.  He remains as full of shit as always, but rather his expression of humanity lay in his need to write such tripe, the need to be superior, the absolute need to somehow matter.

I am not unfamiliar with this idea.  Through high school I had a friend who was what I can only classify as a pathological liar.  I’ll call him Mike.  Any story I heard someone tell in his presence, no matter how embellished, was always topped by one even more outlandish.  Nothing was too much for credulity.  He told every lie like it happened to him yesterday, every story like his life depended on it.  Forced by previous lies and a need to top them, the stories became more and more absurd until nothing of what he said could be believed.  There was simply no end.  Stories of beating up would be muggers in the neighboring town would be followed up with one of him jumping off the back of a snowmobile and killing a coyote with his bare hands. These are actual examples, but there are hundreds of others equally ridiculous.  The odd thing was that no matter how tall the tale, Mike always seemed to believe his own lies.  Toward the end of our friendship he was the only one who did.  Most friends fell away tired of the lies.  My own feelings for him ranged from genuine affection to a churning contempt, but all of mixed with pity.  Pity for he felt compelled to present himself as better than everyone at everything.  The feelings of inferiority that must lie at the root of such a terrible need must be immense.

All through Exodus, Moses has reminded me strongly of Mike.  The difference being one of success.  Mike faded as he grew older.  Never able to stop lying, the best he could manage was an improved ability to hide it from those he’d just met…  For a while, at least.  Fired from several jobs, divorced from more than one wife, he has, sadly, dropped off my radar completely.  I do not know what he is doing now, but I still feel a great deal of empathy for his plight.

Moses, on the other hand, seems to have done quite well for himself.  In a more credulous age with a better ability to lie, he succeeded where Mike failed.  He crawled to the top of his people and somehow, through a vast series of improbable historical accidents, managed to survive history’s rampant amnesia.

He’s a bastard.  No argument.  He’s a liar, conniver and murderer beyond a doubt.  He has done terrible things to maintain his eminent position and my feelings toward him range widely throughout the disgust, contempt and hatred category.


But through it all, from time to time, I catch just a glimpse of Mike in Moses, a being wracked by such feelings of inferiority that he’s felt compelled to make up a countering mythology, a legend where he’s God’s right hand man.  Feeling worthless in his own eyes, he’s compensated by making himself a virtual god in other’s.

And then I feel pity, a terrible empathy for someone who can never be what he has convinced everyone else he is.


Renewing The Covenant or How Not To Cook Baby Goat.

A realistic view of the "laws" of Moses

Exodus 34, the rest of the story.

Then God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the Lord, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you.

First, does Yahweh always have to be such a douche bag?  Oh, pardon me, “Douche Bag.”  I hate to not show the proper respect while discussing the mighty one.  Just out of curiosity, haven’t you always wondered why fear is such a good thing in the Bible, a God fearing’ people, for instance.  God, by all accounts, loves for us to be afraid, pissing in our undies terrified.  Why?  Any  devout Christian with answers to the riddle should write them on the back of a brand new iPad 2 and mail it to The Blessed Atheist, Bismarck, ND 58501.  Be sure to charge it up first… and don’t bother with the Bible apps.  I already have four.

Ahem!  Back on subject, Moses is on the mountain getting a backup copy of the Ten Commandments. You remember, replacing those he broke in the sordid Golden Calf affair, but before the real work begins God demands a renewal of his covenant with the Hebrews.  Apparently, their lease is almost up and Yahweh’s worried some other god may come in and snatch them up at a good price.

So they renew their covenant.  Thinking on this covenant, I find that it bothers me more and more.  Simply put, it’s not fair.  Not even close!  Personally, I think the Israelites are getting a divine screwing, but then again I think that about all religions, but this seems particularly bad.  You see a covenant is a contract, a deal, a trade for services of a sort.  In it both sides agree to certain actions and are bound by that agreement.  But for it to be a fair deal both sides should be getting something of equal value, a quid pro quo so to speak.  Do they?  You decide.

Now, God’s part of this deal is to give to his people the promised land , a land flowing with milk and honey. Wow! Really!  Yeah baby! Now that may seem like a fine deal to the uninformed, for at first glance who wouldn’t want that?  After all, real estate deals have been happening for millennia and taken at face value it seems like a good one.  But the problem is that Yahweh never quite gets around to actually giving it to them.  They’ve been waiting for centuries and here they still are  wandering through the forsaken lands.  That and has anyone here actually seen pictures of Israel?  undoubtably, it’s a beautiful country, but milk and honey?  By Yahweh’s jagged anal fissures, it’s a freaking desert .  Milk and honey?  Hell!  Most people would settle for simple rain.

Oh, Yahweh talks the talk, making promises right and left, but where is his fucking walk?  Admit it, people. By this time he should have certainly shown the Hebrews the goddamned money. They have suffered for it.  But after centuries of waiting what do they really have?  Shit!  Oh wait, let me correct myself here.  They still have a batshit crazy leader dragging them randomly about the desert on a large-scale never-ending family vacation in the world’s worst station wagon.  40 years worth of zigzagging back and forth to see such sights as Arabia’s largest pile of goat shit, and hey!  Look over there, kids!  It’s another rock.  And no “vacation” would be complete without dad pulling over the caravan and killing several hundred children for playing with a Golden Calf in the back seat.  This they have.  But any of them would have been overjoyed to trade all that god-given wonder for 40 acres and a mule.

Shit!  I’d have traded all that for a used stick of gum… Sugarfree.

“Oh,” you say, “but the Hebrews do eventually get their promised land, don’t they?”  Yes… In a manner of speaking.  When the Hebrews do finally get to the land of milk and honey, they run into difficulty.  God’s gift comes with a serious infestation of Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. This place is absolutely crawling with them. Does God call the exterminator?  The sheriff? A moving company?   No!  In other words, when God does “hand it over”( A phrase synonomous with the Hebrews finally stumbling out of the desert  into a land that was slightly less desert.), there are a few complications, namely the inhabitants who are presently living there.  Sure, God swears that he will drive all these peoples forth, but when it finally does come down to it, the Hebrews are forced to battle for every inch of it themselves.  As I’ve said previously, generosity cannot be based on telling people to steal something from others.  Neither can morality.  Go figure!

So the Hebrews get a great deal of empty promises and in return what do they give up?  Truly?  Damned near everything.  Heart and soul, they’re in for it now.  For this mythological homeland, they give themselves into a slavery as arbitrary and capricious as any known.  Look at this smattering of bullshit they have to follow.

“Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst.  “But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.

And this “Jealous” is the father of the Prince of Peace?  Yeah… OK…  Lord of breaking shit into pieces would be more accurate.  You just gotta admire the inherent selfishness of this commandment, though.  If someone’s living on the land that you think you want, attack them.  Take it.  Don’t compromise.  Don’t abide. Just smash them.  What better divine excuse for violence and theft do you need?  The answer to the ancient question of “Can’t we all just get along?” must be “Shit no!  Don’t get along with anyone. Kill ‘em. Break ‘em. Push ‘em out.” I’m always fascinated in how modern Christians spin this.  Where is the “love everyone as your brother?” ideal.

But in truth, passages like these have been one reason why Christianity has been so reluctant to throw away the Old Testament completely.  Peace is fine as it goes, but sometimes you’ll get a lot further ahead by some ass-kicking, theft and genocide.  Anyone who doubts this truth really needs to read more history.  We may not like it, but on one level that’s what history is, a vast panorama of butchery and genocide followed by the victor living merrily off the vanquished’s  goods and lands.  Of course, this is usually followed by a thanksgiving celebration to their god for gifting them this new, freshly fertilized land.  Hooray to  God for allowing us to kill whoever is in our way.  Might makes right and it always has.

And there’s this:

“You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread, nor is the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover to be left over until morning. “You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God.
”You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

“Yeah… Um… don’t mix peas and carrots and… do the dishes.  And of course, give the priests the first of everything.”  More arbitrary rules.  The last one about the goat we’ve heard before, but twice-baked Christ, why make such a big deal out of it?  Thus far, we’ve seen as many rules against this form of cooking as against homosexuality so why don’t we see people raging against this on Fox News?  It’s right there, plain as the Neanderthal brain in Sean Hannity’s head.  To my knowledge Glenn Beck hasn’t done a single raving lunatic-inspired show about this subject.  Doesn’t he follow the Bible?  Isn’t he a Christian.  Get the chalk boards out Glenn.  The world needs you. this evil must be abolished.

Honestly, don’t these seem like they’re just random directives whose only purpose is to show who’s in charge?  And like most other occultist arcana, the more off-the-wall it is, the more power it is believed to have.

Sadly, these restrictions also seemed designed to be very difficult to follow thus giving Moses a constant opportunity to chastise, punish or kill those who do not.   Pulled blithely out of Moses’ ass, the regulations put the Hebrews in such a desperate strait in that they must obey yet are doomed to fail.  Like modern Fundamentalists today, the Hebrews are forced to follow such random rules and senseless restrictions, that they ultimately stagger from one failing to the next, failings which are never the creator’s fault.  With the overpowering need by the priests to claim their God is perfect, the blame for any mistake and suffering must always rest in the creation.  Like God somehow made us all perfect, and we alone fucked it up after that.  Every single one of us!  Bar none!

A perfect God creates a perfect creation which then, consistently and without exception, turns themselves into the most screwed up beings on the planet.  Yeah.  That’s logical.

In addition, the poor Israelites are saddled with a perpetually unfulfilled covenant while having to abide by capricious laws.  It’s like having a rich uncle who swears you will be the heir to his fortune when he dies.  So you spend you entire life caring for him, enduring his rages, wiping his ass, and changing out his colostomy bag, but in the end the son of a bitch lives to be 106 and leaves everything to his Chihuahua.  Great covenant!

Can you say “bullshit,” boys and girls?

I knew you could.


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