Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Morning very cloudy and rainy....

"Religious moderation is a product of scriptural ignorance." - Sam Harris

NTodd puts me on to this; which isn't to say he at all "agrees" with it.  He has his take (which is better than my take, honestly), I have mine.

Satire is well and good; but satire is better when it is grounded in reality.  There isn't a lot of fact-checking necessary to read the most famous satirical essay in Western culture, by Jonathan Swift.  Indeed, Swift includes in it his own ideas about how to address poverty in Ireland; and much of what he satirically attacks is still the attitude prevailing in America today (where we might as well treat the poor as a market commodity, there are so many of them and we are as indifferent to them as to corn or pork bellies).

I can't speak to the Quranic passages quotes above as well as I can to the Biblical passages, but then we don't need to take this seriously enough to engage in overkill.

Deuteronomy 12:6-10

6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; 7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; 8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: 9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

Deuteronomy doesn't say to stone Gentiles (i.e., all who are not children of Abraham).  Admittedly, it says to stone the heretic, the chaser after false gods, who would lead you away from the God of Abraham; but the admonition is limited to family.  I could go into the historical context of the passage, but the end result is the same:  I don't advocate stoning anyone (nor do I know any Christian who does, even the most literal fundamentalists; don't know any who use Philemon to advocate for slavery, either).  Stick simply with what the scripture says, and it doesn't say what Betty Bowers says it does.

Revelations 2:18-29

18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

I don't know where in 2:18, or the following verses, it says unbelievers will burn in hell.  Yes, that's a Christian doctrine, but one I, an ordained Christian pastor, reject and do not teach.  Partly because I don't find any support for it in the Bible.  Again, what's the joke?  That Betty Bowers can't read?

Matthew 15:22-28

22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Admittedly this has been a very controversial scripture since feminist readings began re-examining our exegesis of scripture.  But it is most commonly cited as the example of a woman teaching Jesus something about humanity.  It's a passage that comes up in John as the "woman at the well" story, where the woman is a Samaritan.  Here, and in Mark 7:24-30 (where Matthew got the story), the woman is a Gentile, so the reference to "dogs" has to do with boundaries between Hebrews and non-Hebrews.  So, yeah, technically true; but still, not all that funny when you put it back in context.

My point is:  if Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert were this sloppy about their satire, they'd be as funny as Dennis Miller, and as respected.  Mock the scriptures as you please, but please:  don't be so dumb about it.

If you're going to use satire to promote, or even mock, understanding, use some understanding to do it.  I don't care for satire that insults my intelligence.


  1. I've learned in the past week that "satire" means repeating what people believe they already know about something when they don't know about it and don't care if it's true. Oh, and it has to be bigoted and cruel and slam religion.

    I think Dorothy Parker got it right when she said, way back in the 1950s that no one was writing satire, mistaking mere topical opinion for satire. Considering how much smarter the writers were back then, satire is dead.

  2. I think I should get some credit for using the Sam Harris quote.

    I found it in a comment at Betty Bowers.


  3. Betty Bowers is another thing I used to think was amusing but, perhaps with the flood of anti-religious hate talk, don't find amusing anymore. Hate against hate only doubles the amount of hate and reinforces the hate the haters are hating on.