Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Welcome to the long, strange trip it's been....

So, this morning, I read this, got this far:

One reason is that the Bible actually gives two different sets of Ten Commandments, and they don’t match. In Exodus 20, Moses comes down from Mount Sinai with a set of stone tablets. (This is the most popular version.) Then he gets mad and smashes them and has to go back up and get another set. And God says, “Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.” (Exodus 34:1). But then, apparently, God can’t resist tweaking them a little. Ok, a lot.

and thought:  "Hey, wait a minute,"  and pulled a Bible off my shelf. Quicker than Google, I was browsing Exodus.  My suspicions confirmed (and against my better judgment) I left a comment:

Um, if you're gonna write about it, you might want to read Exodus, rather than watch the Charlton Heston movie.
The so-called Decalogue is delivered in Exodus 20: 1-17.  The catalogue of laws is interrupted by the terror of the people at the theophany (basically a huge thunderstorm) taking place atop Sinai.  The people speak to Moses (which is weird, isn't he on the mountain?), and then God goes back to delivering laws, of which the Decalogue is only the first ten.  The laws go on until Exodus 23:19, and then there's a longer passage about a ritual (I won't even bother with what it's for).  It's in Exodus 32:19 that Moses destroys the tablets with ALL the law (not just the first 10; again, that's DeMille, not Exodus), and so gets a new set starting in Exodus 34.
And I suspect a bit of historical scholarship would expose the importance of the Decalogue to Christians as of recent, Protestant vintage, not something going back to the 1st century, as I don't recall any mention of it in the book of Acts or the letters of Paul.
Which would kind of shift the whole "Christians get it all wrong" thesis of this article to "some Christians of more recent vintage," and then maybe we could say which ones, and why.  Or is a gross generalization that doesn't really account for anything except your preferred conclusion, based largely on ignorance, not insight, for only one acceptable outcome?

@Adventus ...or we can conclude the bible is a veritable Rorschach test, with each reader coming to his or her own conclusions.

Frankly, your analysis of the bible seems as misguided as those of the writer of this piece.  

@Adventus Whatever. The entire thing is irrelevant fiction. Parsing irrelevant fictions is a waste of time and energy that could be better spent learning how to be a decent human being.

@Aunt Messy @Adventus Thank you, Aunt Messy!  I have never understood why the heck people "religiously" attend "Bible Study" classses - for what?  It is a lengthy (some might say tedious), frequently violent, misogynist,  series of parables and stories about some vengeful deity who advocates all sorts of mayhem for misbehavior and "forgetting him".  Whatever happened to "live and let live"?  How about the famous Rodney King jeremiad: "Can't we all just get along?"  

@Aunt Messy @Adventus

Fiction sure - irrelevant - um - not to the hundreds of millions of practicing religionists.

@Tom A @Aunt Messy @Adventus So? It's not like we're talking about rationality here. A whole lot of people refuse to grovel in front of a Roman torture device, too. 

It's ONLY relevant to believers. Those of us that are rational don't need to waste our time figuring out WHAT they believe, we only need to make them irrelevant to the world at large.

So far, they're managing to self-destruct all on their own, anyway.

@Aunt Messy @Adventus And parsing comments is a better way to spend your time?

It's a simple matter:  it's called reading comprehension.  Nothing to do with the content, merely to do with accuracy in reporting on the content.
More trouble than it's worth to divide that up or change the formatting, but that's what got left while I was away. My belated response is the penultimate comment, there; but you get the drift.  Something there is about topics religious which deranges the mind; or at least makes commenters see all kinds of monsters drooling under the bed.

I really don't get it. My only comment was on the accuracy of the reporting of what Exodus said; not on the accuracy of Exodus as history of events, nor the analysis in the article (which is pretty piss poor, and as I mentioned in passing, assumes a lot about the history of Christianity which I'm not sure is valid.).

The reigning assumption is that all Christians are fundamentalists, and have been since Paul died (I as often see Paul blamed for messing up Christianity as I see the "Old Testament" labelled a book full of a vengeful and wrathful God, and nothing like Jesus; which is so illiterate it's downright sad).  Point out that "the Fundamentals" were written in the early 20th century, and the monkeys hoot and fling poo at you.  (I know, I know, it's a tiresome metaphor by now, but read those comments again and tell me if you don't think "Welcome to the Monkey House" is a phrase that springs to mind).

I know better than to bother; and I report on it to clear it out of my mind.  Something even odder happened to me today, which merits its own post.  Just consider these diary entries on what a long, strange trip it's been.


  1. There are days I think it would be a good idea to spend about a month off line so I can remember what it was like to only hear people who can think for a while.

    Then I listen to the radio or read the paper and figure I'd better keep trying. Salon is a dolt magnet but if you really want to see stupid of that flavor, Alternet is worse.

  2. I left the comment, then left the house. There were over 200 comments when I came back, so I figured mine had been ignored long ago; but I was curious.

    And rather stunned at the reaction. I mean, really.....

  3. Saw the article. Amazed to see what's published these days. Elementary error upon error. Rolled eyes, started to try to think what astonishingly erudite comment could bring the world to it's senses. Came to my senses.

    Thanks, anyway, for trying.

  4. Are you really confused about what happened? First, it's the internet. Some people try to have actual conversations, and some people treat it like restroom graffiti. Second, are you really not aware that Bryan Fischer and James Dobson are the brand managers for your faith? "Judgmental, homophobic, hypocritical, and too political" are the words young Americans use to describe religion. You may not like this, but what are the so called moderates doing about it? Not a damn thing, it seems. The leadership in these 'moderate' denominations either lacks the courage to take a stand for what is right, or they secretly agree with the Fox agenda and are content to let others do the dirty work. I'm not sure which is worse, and I don't care. That's why I left. And I count people of faith as my allies, when they are. Fran, aka BlueGal, and Fred Clark at Slacktivist are solidly feminist, pro social justice liberals. And I would throat punch any of my fellow atheists who was rude to them. I've only been reading this blog for about a month, but it is not at all clear that either of the contributors share my concern for the march of the christian reconstruction movement into our national politics, to say nothing of the real harm that the gleefully inflict upon the most vulnerable members of society, the 'least of these my brethren', when they control state legislatures. This is where the reflexive, and at times undeserved, anger against christianity comes from.

  5. Well, to begin with, I'm no more responsible for Dobson or Fischer than they are for me.

    No more than, as a white male, I'm responsible for white racists like Cliven Bundy, or homophobes in general,etc., etc., etc. They don't speak for me, I don't speak for them, and nobody appointed me the Rapid Response Team to Fischer (who I never hear about except through internet articles) or Dobson (ditto).

    If I were responsible for every Christian I disagreed with who made a public statement, it would be a terrible cross to bear. As Judi Dench's character says at the end of "Philomena," I wouldn't want to be that angry, it would be a terrible way to live.

    Now, why Fischer and Dobson, et al., get all the attention when the UCC doesn't (just to pick a counter example at the other extreme) is simply a matter of $$$$. The UCC doesn't have any, and Dobson and Fischer do. You never fail to understand the American Media if you remember Deep Throat's advice to Woodward: "Follow the money."

    American media invariably does.

    Which I suppose is my fault too, somehow.

    As for the internet being full of bathroom graffiti, yeah, I'm aware of that, too. I prefer conversations.

    What do you prefer?

  6. I've only been reading this blog for about a month, but it is not at all clear that either of the contributors share my concern for the march of the christian reconstruction movement into our national politics, to say nothing of the real harm that the gleefully inflict upon the most vulnerable members of society, the 'least of these my brethren', when they control state legislatures. This is where the reflexive, and at times undeserved, anger against christianity comes from.

    I should add, considering there are more than two topics here, that I don't like what is being done in the name of Xianity today, any more than I liked it growing up in the Southern Baptist bastion of the East Texas town I hale from.

    And I have as much power to change things then, as I do now.

    One thing I have learned is that being belligerent, or even writing critically about what I don't like, doesn't change what I don't like. It changes me, which brings us back to that line from "Philomena" I mentioned earlier.

    And I don't see a lot "Christian" or even "reconstruction" about what's going on. Nothing has really changed since the '60's, which is when I started paying attention, or since the turn of the century, so far as my knowledge of history goes.

    Most of the "Christian in public" stuff, though, started after WWII, mostly with the "2nd Great Awakening" of the '50's, the "Man Called Peter" era, when everyone went to church on Sunday morning (preferably a Protestant one) in white gloves and suits and ties and dresses for the ladies.

    I still remember the uproar when a woman in my childhood church wore a "pantsuit" to church. My mother was furious. So no, I don't exaggerate about the dresses.

    Church has always reflected the cultural status quo, which is why people are in church, by and large. They go to be cosseted, not assaulted. And as the wave of social change that started (in churches, anyway) with the German Biblical scholars of the 19th century has crested in the '60's with the hippies/free love movement, churches have become more visibly risible and reactionary (MLK using the black churches for Civil Rights had a LOT to do with that, too).

    American culture has been a reaction to the '60's (and the Beatniks of the '50's, and FDR in the '30's, and the War in the '40's, etc.) since Reagan was elected.

    I don't think any church is the root of that evil, or the progenitor of it; just more the servant, than anything else.

    But even pointing that out every day on this blog would be like going down to the sea and commanding the tide to stop coming in.

    There are better ways to use my time.....