Posts Tagged ‘ Ten Commandments ’

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.

Moses, Aaron And The Great Golden Calf Caper; Liars, Fukwits And Divine Blowup Dolls

Here we are at the not-so-happy end of what shall be known as the Golden Calf Affair so let’s sum up the story so far.  Moses is gone for forty days making up God’s rules, but the people get all God-horny in his absence so Aaron creates a perfectly acceptable substitute out of some cheap baubles, a sort of inflatable doll of a god, much like the other one.  Everyone is joyous… Except Yahweh, of course.  He is set to kill everyone for this sleight to his dignity but is persuaded by Moses to change his mind and will now proceed to merely hold a grudge against the people he adores above all others.  Yep, that’s about it, the entire plot with all its contradictory absurdities intact, the whole enchilada, one big steaming pile of sacred cow shit… But now with raisins!

So Moses, peeved that his people have turned from the one true Lord Genocide, charges down the hill stone tablets under his arm.  He is determined to set things right which means, of course, to get himself back into power ASAP.  As he approaches camp his servant hears the sounds of battle but Moses corrects him.  “It is not the sound of the cry of triumph, Nor is it the sound of the cry of defeat; But the sound of singing I hear.”  The people are partying down getting to know their new god who is obviously a bit more fun than the old one.  Yahweh was always a bit of a downer at the keg.   But a grand party it was right up until Moses charges in, throws the Ten Commandments at their feet and rages around the camp.  He grinds the golden calf to dust, sprinkles the dust into water and then forces everyone to drink.  Party’s over! Dad’s home.

Aaron being the whiny little shit he is tries to wheedle his way out of the blame.  “Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil.  “For they said to me, ‘Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

Yeah! Sure it did.  Walked right out!  Personally, I think this was a power play of Aaron’s. He was the closest witness to how Moses created a god and coaxed everyone into belief and subordination.  Aaron was well aware of the power that could be gained by simple but crafty manipulations of human emotion so I think that this was Aaron’s attempted coup, but the truth is apparent that Aaron even with Moses’ deceitful example before him simply wasn’t clever enough to pull this off.  The Great Golden Calf Affair was the attempted overthrow of a liar by a fukwit, but like rocks versus scissors, liars will beat fukwits any day. If only the fukwits could learn that immutable fact the world would be a calmer albeit duller place.

But Exodus 32/25-29 is the most interesting part.  Read this quite carefully.  In fact, go back and read the entirety of chapter 32.  The chapter tells much about the nature of religion and God in society.

 Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control–for Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies–then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him.  He said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’”  So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day.  Then Moses said, “Dedicate yourselves today to the Lord–for every man has been against his son and against his brother–in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.”

Aaron had lost control of the people.  They were not out of control as in running around like a bunch of psychopaths but were out of Moses’ control. Aaron in his bid for power had screwed up Moses’ well honed and terrified machine.  The people were now off thinking for themselves, not being rational, mind you, but not allowing Moses to dictate their every belief and value anymore.  This was intolerable.  So he gathers the sons of Levi and commands them  “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’”   Of course, the sons of Levi obey and rush through the camp killing brothers, friends and neighbors; 3000 people in all. Well that ended the party, let me tell you!  The whole of this slaughter was for the simple and innocent sin of making a statue and paying homage to it, of marching to the beat of a different drum, of doing something “else”.  As you can see, the Bible’s not exactly into diversity… Or mercy.

But then Moses ensnares deep into his web all those who took part in the murders.   Then Moses said, “Dedicate yourselves today to the Lord–for every man has been against his son and against his brother–in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.”  This is the most fascinating and revealing line in the Bible so far.  Throw yourselves on the Lord Genocide so he will bless you for you have killed your kin in his name.  Those who have murdered now have no where else to go.  They have all committed atrocities on sons and brothers and neighbors and will never be fully welcomed back into their communities.  How could they be?  They may be the victors but they’ll be alone on their blood covered hill. They must stick together now, for apart they are outcasts.  This horrendous crime has tied them together more tightly that anything else Moses could have done.  This abomination forever bound the assassins to their leader, the bloody sheep to the bloody shepherd, the guilty to the guiltier.

Regarding the whole coup, it’s likely that a people who have been wandering the desert for months following a schizophrenic dick-head just may have been interested in a change of leadership.  It’s a fucking desert for a lack-of-Christ’s sake. After barely surviving the whims and caprice of a tyrannical and insane shitbag and his God.  After a constant flirtation with exhaustion, dehydration and starvation, people were likely ready to follow anyone who would lead them out of the desert.  Even a golden calf!  They were ready for a change, but Moses was not, and like tyrants after him Moses knew that enough spilled blood, especially the right blood, would silence the opposition for a long time.  So he set his most loyal followers to butchering their neighbors and friends, their sons and fathers all in the name of their God.  Their hands dripped with the life of their kin and now the only people who could look past the enormity of their crime was their fellow conspirators.

As I have said for months now, Moses as a cult leader knew how to keep his grip on power in the Hebrew nation. Kill the opposition and then claim God’s wants it that way.  Terror and death a well-used formula performed effectively throughout the ages but never surpassed. Moses is the undisputed master of tyrannical cult control.  He has no equal.

But he’s still a shitbag.  No equal for this either either. His actions reek of douchebaggery and nutless puttpluggery, and has set the stage for the thousands of pogroms to come against people of differing faiths.  He gave sacred credence to the slaughter of the dissidents.  The first religious civil war was over.  Diversity and variation lost.  Critical thinking and reason were soundly defeated.  The enforced religious monotheism created a rigid and linear thought structure.  Thou shall not deviate.  Being different is a capital offense.

We see the same thing today around the world.  People killing or oppressing others for the simple crime of not believing exactly as they do.  No matter how similar the belief systems, it’s so easy to find a single difference and point to it as critical.  I’m convinced that if the entire world was forced to be a single religion, Christian, Muslin or whatever, we’d soon be preaching against and oppressing others because they’re not Protestant.  Then because they’re not Baptist.  Then because they’re not Westboro Baptist.  Then because they don’t sit on the left side of the church.  Then…

The hierarchical state of humanity requires that we arrange ourselves into a pecking order and then try to claw our way to the top of that order both individually and as a group. Our status within these groups large or small, is what the evolutionary need to find mates has bred us for.   This selfishness and need to be seen as better than others is an integral part of being human.  This is the very essence of the worst of what it means to be us.  Created by a perfect God, my ass!

One of my problems with so many philosophical and religious arguments is that they make rules and guidelines for us based on what they want us to be, not how we really are.  Though many philosophies may be dangerously utopian and prone to collapse in real world situations, people seldom go out and butcher others for those beliefs.  Only when philosophies reach the point of religion, are people overtly willing to kill their fellows.  Following religion or making our current philosophy into a near religion makes terrible acts possible because then we think we are doing the right thing.  We think we are saving the world.  Murdering jackasses rarely think of themselves as such and even more seldom want to be seen in that light. Even murdering jackasses want to be heroes. From Stalin and Hitler to the cross-bearing destroyers of the Incas and Aztecs, from the slaughter and enslavement of Africans to the decimation of the Native Americans, from one religious war to any other religious war, the worst acts in our history have been committed by people who convinced themselves they were doing the right thing. They were convinced they were saving the world. And here in Exodus is the inception of that concept.  Moses really did lead the way.

When someone is willing to kill and oppress people to force them to believe in the One True Thing, there are few limits to what horrors they will inflict.

Adding God into the mix, removes even those.

The Ten Commandments. No Ass Coveting and Few Others.

Right here, God says you're a jackass!

As we all remember in our last episode, we covered the four God commandments. You know the ones that instructed humanity what not to do against God, those terrible sins by which you, personally, can hurt the feelings of the Lord of the Universe, the prince of peace, the big guy himself. Unfortunately, as my readers know, I simply couldn’t answer the riddle of how anything we did, anything at all, would ever be of harm to an omnipotent deity.  We are like yeast cells to him and ask yourself, has yeast ever really made you mad or made you cry?  Ever??

I suspect the answer to God’s hurt feelings just doesn’t exist and like all the other puzzles of similar ilk lying within these pages, theists will insist we file it under the “Mysterious Ways” heading and never look directly at it again. If we don’t think about it, it won’t bother us. See no evil.  Hear no evil. Speak no evil. Well, I’m a speakin’!  Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s just goddamned ignorant.  Is that really what we are striving for here?  I think not, my little buttercups!  It’s my philosophy to pull all the assorted trash out of the closet and see what trite little trinkets it  really consists of. Speaking personally on those first four commandments, I’ve gotten better advice off  gum wrappers. And Simpson episodes? They are veritable tomes of human wisdom.  The Lord my God in-frakking-deed!

But this episode, boys and girls, isn’t about those God Commandments. It’s about the human ones, five through ten, the back of the bus regulations. These are the laws meant to protect us from ourselves or, to be more accurate, each other. Now again, let’s take the Christian argument that the Ten Commandments are the very basis of our legal system today. Well, obviously the first four have nothing to do with any recognizable legal framework at work in America today, but the Fundamentalists could argue that our system with its vast number and variety of laws, restrictions and regulations is based innately on the next six. We’re going to do an in-depth check on that little fallacy right now.

By the way, I in no way mean to imply that any fundamentalist would ever consider those first four to be unimportant. Obviously, they would place respect for their bloody-handed God at the very top of their rigid pyramid of order, far above any respect for those things merely human in origin or, for that matter, those mere humans themselves. History is chock full of Christians massacring those who didn’t worship their God, who worshipped their God in a differing manner and those who worshipped their God in nearly identical ways but who owned a lot of cool shit that the first Christians wanted. If you hold your God first, ordinary people matter little.

In human affairs, the first commandment really should have been greed. The rest you could have just made up as you went along. Much like they did.

Onward you non-Christian soldiers for there are people to enlighten.

We start with commandment five: Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

Most of us who grew up with this directive have placed it in the background and never really thought about it. Of course you’re supposed to honor your father and mother. Duh! But after doing quite a bit of reading and thinking on this, my opinion has metamorphosed some. This is likely to be the most socially progressive commandment of the ten. The original intent here was not to insist on respect of people who may not even deserve it. It was an edict demanding that you take care of your parents even when they have become old and no longer economically useful, a kind of mandated and wholly privatized social security system. If everyone takes care of their own, there will be less poverty, starvation and misery. The logic for a primitive society is hard to argue with.

Overall, I’d have to give this commandment a thumbs up. In the interests of truth, however, I also have to point out that I do not get along well with my own parents. As any long time reader of this blog is aware, my atheism has strained our relationship to the breaking point. I believe I’m out of the will completely by now and when they find out about the Blessed Atheist Bible Study, it’ll be over for sure. So ironically, the one commandment I respect the most is the one I seem unable to follow. Damn my blackened and withered soul!

The next commandment is too important to be anything but the climax of my case so I’m going to skip number six for now and plunge into seven: You shall not commit adultery.

Ooooh!  Well, we do see this mating jealousy even in the animal kingdom, monogamous marriage, driving away potential rivals and the like. This whole concept is a veritable foundation of evolution for we want our genes passed down, ours alone, not the genes of slick talkin’ Leisure Suit Larry over there. But at the same time if we can slip one in on the side and get Jim-Bob there to raise one of our kids as his own… Well, you can’t deny it happens and evolutionarily it’s still our genes.

It’s morally reprehensible but common. Evolution certainly favors an ethics system but hardly a perfect one. It uses a game theory of life: that which will get us ahead will be favored but not to the exclusion of other strategies. Evolution and ourselves are always hedging our bets. Both cheating and loyalty have some success.  However, civilization is also dependent on stepping away from our animal instincts and forming something a bit higher, a new moral zeitgeist so to speak. We need to rise above thinking with our groins.  Will this be successful? I’ll have to get back to you on that, but I’m pretty sure a moderate level of adultery will ensue well into the future no matter how high we rise.

Just to be clear here. I don’t favor adultery and have never even cheated on a girlfriend let alone my wife, ever, and seriously frown upon those who do. Nonetheless, I am quite aware of humanity’s foibles.  Of course, if you use that old Fundy chestnut that if you have lusted in your heart then you have committed adultery then I’ve sinned on a daily basis.  Though in my most humble opinion, what’s lusted in the heart stays in the heart.  If they want to worship some kind of omniscient peeping tom, that’s up to them, but the sum-bitch gives me the creeps.

Eight: You shall not steal.

This one like the prohibition against adultery is obvious but hardly overwhelming. Killing and stealing and taking women as concubines from any outside group is not just frequently allowed but, at times, encouraged or even mandated. Doubt this? Read Samuel 15 and the God commanded Genocide of the Amalekites. Remember them? Or Deuteronomy 21, 10-14, the official guide on how to take conquered women as sex slaves. But those tidbits lie in the future.

Stealing, like adultery, causes conflict and hard feelings. Societies can only endure so much of these before collapsing and to reduce friction between men, families and clans, rules such as these are put in place. Don’t sleep with my wife. Don’t steal my shit.  Any questions? Are there actually societies where these “crimes” are encouraged? They wouldn’t be societies for long. This is a given.

I’m also apologize about the male centeredness of this post but these dealt primarily with men. There wasn’t anything about coveting husbands so ladies… have at it.  Just not his ass!  But that’s later.

Nine: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Don’t lie. Don’t say your neighbor did something he didn’t. Same as before, this one is a conflict preventer within a small tribe, but a paradigm shift in jurisprudence, it is not. Were the Hebrews lying bastards before this commandment? Not likely! Like all the other people on earth, they told enough truth to keep the tribe together, but also like every other society, I’m sure fibs and fictions weren’t unknown, just discouraged. Hell, just look at the whoppers Moses told. Burning bush, my ass.

Ten, the coveting ban: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey (ass) or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

A prohibition against envy and jealousy while potentially admirable, is hardly the foundation of Christianity-dominated capitalism rampant throughout the western world today. Isn’t the very basis of our consumer culture that we want what our neighbors have, or even better, what they don’t have… yet? Isn’t every ad campaign centered on creating covetousness in its targets? You want this (insert product here). Yeah, Baby! You know you do! C’mon people! We live amongst the most covetous population that has ever existed and who are predominately Christian, yet here is one of the commandments strictly prohibiting what our entire world is based on.  WTF!

We have Sarah Palin @ (Sorry ladies, I couldn’t resist) trumpeting the importance of the Ten Commandments and then swearing she will restart our covetous-rooted economy better than the other guys. Does anyone else see the bullshit laced throughout her and other’s arguments? Are not these opposite and contradictory goals? Has she even read these things? For that matter, can she even read? Hmm?  The world does wonder.  But who the hell needs to read when you’re so damned cute?

Rants against coveting smack of the Buddhist ideals of giving up greed and desire, and I have to reject this entire notion completely. not that’s it’s been twisted into violence the way that so many other beliefs have, but still. The very essence of humanity is to desire, and, may I say, covet. We work very hard to achieve that which we covet whether it be a toaster from Walmart or the Grand Unified Theory of Everything, the love of our wife or the look of our children. Many things can be beautif to covet.  It is these desires that have driven our society upwards to better places, and coveting and desire in moderation are essential to our happiness. Giving up my desires and lusts and… covetations (is that a word?) is equivalent to surrendering my emotions. I’m not bloodly likely to do either, but I’m just as bloody unlikely to surrender completely to them. Moderation!

These flaws make us human and I’m unwilling to become something else at this point.  Not that I’m in any position to choose right now… Even so!

Now to return to the big one, Commandment number six: You shall not murder.

Well, goddamn it anyway! I was just getting the rifle out too. Now my afternoon is pretty much screwed! I jest, of course, the rifle’s in the shop, but they gave me this beautiful machete as a loaner, though. More work but the exercise would do me good.

Now, in no way am I ever insinuating that this restriction is not a good and necessary part of legal jurisprudence. In truth, I wish we as a species followed this particular statute more closely. But! But! BUT! Let’s assume this entire fairy tale is true and God came down and handed out the Commandments just as written. It’s not like that law wasn’t already in place in every society on earth. It’s hardly an epiphany, people!

Holy Shit, Jim-Bob! You better put down that bloody-knife and read this! No! No! No! Stop chasing that neighbor boy. The little bastard’s off-limits now!

Thou shall not murder has been on our books long before there were actual books. It’d be quite difficult to build any kind of society in which members killed other members indiscriminately. One of the absolute, most-fundamental prerequisites of civilization is not to kill each other. Think about it! How long would a tribe last if the hunting parties sent out in the morning came back at half strength in the evening? And those survivors returned munching on the human remains of their brothers! We’d not only be uncivilized: we’d be extinct. Even with an intelligence far beyond ours, a species who commonly murders their own relatives would never advance beyond living in trees and killing each other with coconuts. It simply can’t happen!

I’m not saying that the world can’t survive a little killing. It has and does. We’re resilient to say the least. It’s who gets killed that is most important. We seldom kill those who we regard as “Us” but regularly slaughter those we see as “Them”. Christians are forever hedging on the differences between murder and killing, but how else could a Christian ever support war or capital punishment of any kind? How could you have ever justified the mass slaughter of the infidels, so common through out all history, holding high a restriction on killing anyone? The difference between killing and murder is determined on where you draw the “Us” and “Them” line.  It’s unthinkable to harm an “Us”, but a “Them”?  Well…

In no way, shape or form am I implying that Christians are the only one who have done this. All humanity engages in this type of judgement constantly. We having varying degrees of both “Us” and “Them” and it can change on a daily basis. Islamic radicals blow up the World Trade Center and the whole Muslim religion slips further into “Them”. Certain nations helped us in our War on Terror and they slide closer to “Us”. This constantly shifting perspective lies both on a personal and a societal scale. Our societal consensus of who we see as “Them” is merely the cumulative total of all our personal scales.

If someone is kind they move closer to “Us”. If someone is mean or rude or cruel, they rapidly slide into “Them” As they go further from “Us”, it becomes increasingly easy to commit acts of aggression or violence against them. When a 6 feet 4 inch 240 lb. male breaks into our house at 2:30 a.m., they instantly slam to the far right side of “Them” allowing us to react in whatever way is necessary to protect our family. But at the same time, it has been difficult historically to add people to the “Us” group who are a different color, or who act, sound or seem different. It’s our nature to view differences as suspicious and “Them”. We don’t learn to be racist.  We learn not to be!

We must always keep in mind that in spite of our bloody human nature, we need not be ruled by its dictates alone. We can progress, and the progress of civilization can be measured directly by the number of people we willingly place in the “Us” group. All of history could be viewed in these terms. As “Us” groups grow in size, civilization rises. As they shrink, societal progress reverses and we enter a “Dark Age”. One only need look at the rise and fall of the Roman Empire or any other empire or nation to see the truth in this. The very peak of civilization would be for us as a whole to consider everyone “Us”.

Where the hell am I going with this, you ask…? Uh…? Sometimes I do have to wonder myself, but I think this sums up the sixth commandment best. The ancient Hebrews viewed this not as a rigid commandment not to kill anyone, only as a rule to not kill other Hebrews. As with any people on earth, they killed plenty of others, vast nations of others, really. They put their victims into  the “Them” category. In their defense, there are very few groups of people surviving today who have not done similar atrocities. It’s the reason they have survived. A little cussed meanness has been a benefit evolutionarily.  The meek?  Those poor bastards will never inherit the earth, and whoever thought they would is an idiot. Sorry Jesus, but the truth must be said.  Without some serious assistance from the strong, the meek are going to have their asses kicked and be buried in forgotten unmarked mass graves… just like they always have been.

I know this is off topic, but I feel strongly here. You ever wonder how a religion based on peace survived all these centuries? You ever wonder why Christians don’t just throw out the Old Testament altogether? These are intricately linked questions. Christianity has survived because at its core is a message of peace to draw people into the “Us” camp, but at the same time it retained the terrible potential and rational for violence contained in the Old Testament. This dual and at times contradictory purposes gave it both the carrot and the stick. Draw some in with the love of the New and smack down those who stand against “Us” with the Yahweh of the Old. Between these two poles lie an unlimited range of action, a supreme flexibility. There is little that lay outside of these parameters for nearly anything can be justified. With this adaptability, it’s no wonder they’ve been around so long.

But strong doesn’t always mean right.

In the world today, our “Us” has grown greatly the last century but I’m not sure we have it in us to go the distance. It seems to me that the fundamentalist ideology, whether Muslim or Christian, stands in our way. They are separators rather than gatherers, destroyers rather than glue. Look at how their churches continue to fragment over such “contentious”  (bullshit! (Oops! Did I say that out loud?)) issues as whether to allow gays to serve in clergy or to even be part of the church at all. Look at how Christian fundamentalists have used immigration, gay marriage and the war on terror to divide, not only our nation, but the world. Look at how fundamentalist Muslims have used terror and murder to achieve the same goal. They use hate and fear to divide, and it’s working.

We may be entering a dark age again.
It scares the shit out of me!

I am the Lord Your God, Useless but Demanding.

God told me you're an asshole and wrote it right here!

As verbose as I tend to be, I’m reluctant to admit that the following discussion of the Ten Commandments could be boiled down to a simple sentence.  “I am the Lord your God. Thou shall not piss me off.” In fact, this adequately sums up the essence of the entire Old Testament. Being a lowly Boilermaker and having been steeped in a culture of sexual one-up-man-ship for years, I think I prefer the crude vernacular for the displeasure of God by the mere act of being human. “Piss God off, and he’ll rip your dick off.”  Of course, that’d be for those of you who currently have one. If not, I’m sure that there are other crucial anatomical items you’d miss greatly, so ladies, don’t think you’re off the hook here.  Let’s just see them inscribe that on a monument and place it in front of a courthouse.

In all honestly, I think either of those two statements sums up these first four commandments so well that those of you without much time on your hands could skip the rest of this post and await the next one. The details are tedious, and it may be easier on your delicate little constitutions not to read my wrath-filled scribbling. If you’re insufficiently alarmed to back off now, consider yourself warned. So stock up on your favorite headache remedy, and let’s press on.

These first four bits of written goodness and charm are the God commandments, those glorifying the almighty because sometimes, as we all know, being omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent just isn’t enough. Every so often the Lord of the Universe needs something more, abject obedience for instance. Isn’t that funny though, the most powerful being in all of creation (and I use the term metaphorically), infinitely wise and endlessly loving, undefeatable and relentless, the indefatigable all-thing needs to protect his feelings with the first four of the ten most important laws in existence? Really?  Exactly what part of omnipotence doesn’t he understand? The very word implies that you need nothing and no one. To throughly mangle the wisdom in Jerry Maguire, you complete yourself. You are all-powerful, completely self-contained, both the unstoppable force and the immovable object, the end all and the be all, both the butter and the bread, the peanut butter and the jelly, yet it bothers you when someone says your name in vain, a painful stab through your oh-so-perfect heart. Goddamn it all!  I swear merely thinking about religion gives me a headache. Someday I’ll learn to take my own advice.  Yeah, yeah, I know!  Not bloody likely!

Let me get another couple of Tylenol and we’ll dip into the nitty-gritty of God’s law.

All in all, the God commandments are the most useless and nonsensical of the lot.  I know many theists today say that these laws are not to protect God but to keep us close to him and therefore away from harming each other.  I’m sure you’ve heard variations on the theme where if you have the Lord in the very depths of your heart,  you’re incapable of or at least unlikely to sin unto others.  These are the ideas I had hammered into my head by, amongst others, the Catholic church and Curly Thornton, the traveling evangelist my parents were enthralled with in my youth who cast invisible demons out of writhing and screaming people, lonely people who for the first time were the center of attention. Keep God utmost in your heart and you’ll find yourself unable to sin against others.  I wonder what the Incas and the Aztecs  would have thought of this, or the African slaves, or the Native Americans, or the Arawaks of Hispanola, or any other extinct or oppressed group here.  Having been ridden down by Yahweh-hearted Christians, they’d have a decidedly different point of view.  Historically, putting God first has never kept his followers from murdering millions and taking their stuff.  In fact, it has generally given people a rational for doing the very things it supposed to protect against.  God Commandments = Fail!

Commandment number one. Obviously, this is the supreme commandment taking up the coveted first spot on the roster, the big kahuna, the alpha law. This is Optimus Prime in a written form. And what does it say? What bit of incredible wisdom does the proclamation hand down to mankind? Don’t rape women? A prohibition against child molestation? The scientific method? The germ theory of disease, perhaps? Tsk, tsk, you naive little ones. Those mere “human” ideas aren’t important enough to be number one. Hell, they’re not even listed at all. As we have said, Commandment Uno has nothing to do with protecting people. It protects God… and God’s little helper, of course. Don’t forget about him. He most certainly hasn’t.

Moses is unquestionably an evil genius of the first caliber. As humans, we always tend to discount the genius of selfishness, to belittle its intelligence as if we cannot stand to acknowledge any virtue in our enemies. This is a mistake.  The genius of evil is real.  Moses’ command of the art of manipulation is unparalleled in his time and perhaps, even today. As a cult leader, he planned his strategy well, and it has been incredibly effective. He maintained an iron control over a people using nothing but fear, superstition and his unbendable will. These God commandments do nothing more than protect Moses’ position at the very peak of Hebrew society. He’s the only speaker for God, therefore, he is protected when his God is protected. Like I said, frakking Genius! Damn, if he’d only put that to good use.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

So we now know that the most important rule in the entire universe is that God is God and don’t even try to raise to any first chair status one of those lesser gods who seem to be lying about in great abundance. Thou art God’s bitches now. Thou shall not be bitches to any other God! Yahweh demands complete loyalty in his prostitutes.  He’s a firm-handed pimp.

The truth is that this notion wearies me. If God were real, why not simply come down every Tuesday (Or any other day. Our schedule’s pretty open) and walk about talking with those people his followers claim he adores. After a few weeks of that, it’d be a simple matter of believing in him. Following him? Well, that’s a separate entity entirely, but at least you could believe in him. In every religion on Earth, why does the onus of belief and faith always fall on us, the mere mortal. For the lack-of-God’s-love, will someone tell me with the multitude of gods who are claimed to exist why none of them ever take any responsibility here. Why is it alway some deity-based fashion statement to be mysterious and invisible? Without exception, gods demand so much of us and give so little of themselves.  Why is faith a virtue?  What logical reason could there be?

In commandment number two, we have a further prohibition against making idols. Not only are you not to raise any existing other Gods before Yahweh, you can’t make any in your workshops either so Aaron, put down the Goddamned Skilsaw, and step away from that Golden Calf!  Is the great and powerful Oz really concerned with some powerless carving of a goat, or man or ox?  Or is Moses just keeping all of the power and influence exactly where he wants it, namely, in his own hands.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

This commandment comes before murder or rape or child molestation. Oh wait, those last two aren’t even commandments, are they? Does this mean it’s more of a crime to carve a fertility goddess to carry in your pocket that it is to brutally rape innocent women? Biblically, the answer to that would be… yes. Sigh.

You also have to be fascinated by the injustice of carrying out divine retribution on the children of sinners.  If I worship another God or let’s say for the sake of argument, none, then not only will I suffer the wrath of God, but so will my great-great grandchildren.  Wow!  Now there’s a system of justice we can all get behind, don’t ya think?.  Children of murderers should be… murdered?  Children of rapists should be… ?  This is just sick!   C’mon people!  These bits of “judiciousness” are the source of all western law?  WTF??

Number three.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

I have only one thing to say here.  Is there truly a way of using the name of a nonexistent deity that is not in vain?  By scientific standards any prayer to the great and powerful Yahweh is completely and utterly useless, hence in vain.  God cannot be happy about all these useless callings on his name, and by the Bible’s own writings, he will not leave unpunished any who do so.  In my very humble point of view, Christians who call their God’s name to no avail more than anyone else on the planet are in big trouble.  It’s not going to be a Rapture.  It’ll be an apocalypse!

Last and likely least of the God Commandments is the one protecting the Sabbath.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Because God rested on the seventh day, we must also.  As I write this, on a Sunday no less, I’m struck by the irony of it all.  There are so many nonsensical ideas to wander through with this single paragraph.  What does an omnipotent being do when he rests anyway?  The question may sound absurd but think about it some more.  Perfection and omnipotence means you’re never weary or tired. You can create stuff with mere thoughts alone.  So what did God do when he rested?  Sit around and stare at shit all day?  Take a hot bath and revel in his greatness?  Nap? If I’d created the universe in six days, I’d be shit-assed exhausted and need some rest!  But then again, I’m hardly omnipotent.  Just ask my wife!  On second thought, never mind.  No sense getting her started there.

The truth is that very concept of perfection and omnipotence stands strong against the necessity of a creator.  Ask yourself how “Perfection” fucked up so bad as to create us, genital warts and Paul Anka in the same day?  What in the hell was he thinking?  If I’d screwed up that bad, I’d take a day of rest also, but I’d hardly demand everyone else do it.  I’d try very hard keep the whole sordid affair quiet.

So do we have an answer to the mystery of why omnipotence demands obedience? To read the Bible, you’d have to say because he can! Does absolute power corrupt absolutely? Yes, Virginia! It sure the hell seems that way.

The theists love to file this entire group of questions under the “mysterious ways” heading, but goddamn it all over again, that drawer is getting full. You can’t just continue to shove every cussed bit of nonsense that you stridently claim is reality into some sort of password-protected file and then insist further that all of humanity is incapable of understanding it, and shouldn’t even try. Shake your head all you want, but isn’t this the very essence central to every belief system based on utter garbage. As human beings we are lowly and small with brains only capable of higher thought when we can get them to disengage from the ever present quest for sex. Even so, we are fully capable of eventually understanding any legitimate series of patterns or factors to any equation. True, it’s often only after years of painful and exhausting work. It may even take decades or centuries, but we will get it. What we are not able to comprehend in any amount of time is the type of manufactured nonsense so prevalent in most religions. This is not because they are too difficult, not by far. It’s an illegitimate pattern, one manufactured that leads no where. Patterns like this are a door but only one that’s painted on the wall, a window to a fantasy landscape. We can’t find answers to the riddles of religion because there are none, only a couple of layers of cracked and peeling paint. You can’t peel back the layers surrounding the mystery for once you tear off the first few flakes, nothing remains. Religion is a vulgar mural not a livable landscape, a crude sculpture not a viable world, yet millions look on this manufactured view and demand that we all believe it rather than reality.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Theists see the world how they want to see it rather than how it actually is.

Quite frankly, in a world tottering on the brink, this scares the hell out of me!

The Ten Commandments — Thou Shall Not Think!

"The lord Jehovah has given unto you these fifteen...," breaking sounds..., "uh, ten, ten commandments!"

Exodus, chapter 20.

As anyone familiar with the continuing battle over the separation of church and state knows, there is one thing from the Old Testament that Christians consider absolutely fundamental to today’s lawful society, the Ten Commandments.  This set of divine restrictions is considered by many of the sects to be the heart of all law in the western world.  Without them, the world would spiral out of control and doom the very essence of civilization itself. At any courthouse or government building in the world, the lack of these strictures simply begs people to commit atrocities. If humanity would ever dare to forgo the guiding hand of these ten immutable laws, the world would descend into the blackened abyss, and abominations would soon follow, brother killing brother, husband oppressing wife, rape and war, floods and famine, dogs and cat living together, Holy shit, Batman, we’re screwed. In other words, complete chaos.  We’d better not risk it people.  There’s little sense in playing with fire of this magnitude. For a lack-of-Christ-sake, just look what’s at stake!  Damn you!

Yeah… Hmm… Hey wait just a goddamned minute.  Let’s think about this.  As an even casual reader of history knows, time and time again humanity plunged into these degeneracies often holding the banner of God’s word high as they rode down all those uncounted multitudes.  Exactly what symbol were they carrying as they mangled their way through the Aztecs and Inca empires?  What legal statutes did they hold supreme as they enslaved and conquered vast stretches of Africa, the Americas, and Australia?  When brother fought brother in the American or English civil wars, what ten principles were they heeding as they bayoneted and shot each other a with such vicious abandon?    Thou shall not kill???

My ass!

Simply using history, one could argue the poor efficacy of this “vital’ document in controlling our baser instincts.  Come on people!  Have you ever genuinely read this Decalogue of human restriction?  I mean really read it? The entire first four are all for the glory of a jealous God.  Well, you may think that he gets four, but at least we get the other six.  Not quite, for it’s a bit deeper than that.  Are you aware that those first four cover 34 lines of my translation, 34 lines telling us to put God above all else or he will crush both you and you descendants. Moses made damn sure that he and his “God”  were well represented, here. In contrast, the succeeding six Commandments use up only 13 lines.  13???  A baker’s dozen lines of poor prose are the entire basis for all western law?  Honestly?  C’mon people!  They’re mere afterthoughts rather than anything serious.  Thou shall not covet thy neighbors donkey?  Are you frakking kidding?  This ranks above slavery and child molestation, wife beating and rape,  torture and oppression?  What kind of frakked up world do we live in if these are the ten most important commands?

Distinguished against their predecessors, Hammurabi’s codes written a millennium before, the Ten Commandments come out as a rather pathetic imitation.  Though, it is true, there are more rules and restrictions throughout the rest of the book and perhaps these need to be taken as a whole, these are the ones they al want in every classroom. A lack-of-God-knows that every six year old in kindergarden  is in serious danger of coveting his neighbors wife.  When we finally reach the end of Exodus, ( Is it just me or is it taking a really long time to get through this?) I think it may behoove us to do a rough comparison between the two more complete sets of laws Hammurabi’s and Moses’.  We’ll see who comes out lacking.

Furthermore, most people aren’t aware of this, but there isn’t even an agreement on which ten are the actual commandments.  Some groups combine certain commandments to make their ten, while other groups combine different ones.  Here, look at this table from Wikipedia.

There are many disagreements even as to the numbering, and you all know what the Young Earth Creationists taught us about any disagreements among the experts when they were arguing against evolution — disagreement means the entire theory is invalid. Right?  Hmm…  They just may be on to something there.

At any rate, we are going to go into these in some depth over the next two posts.  First, we’ll cover the God Commandments, the first four according to the fundies.  After that we’ll get into the purely human restrictions against ass-coveting and others.  This, my fine friends, is going to be a ball.

Just don’t be looking covetously at my ass, I mean, donkey!

Ah, hell!  I’ve changed my mind.  Go right ahead.


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