Posted by admin on October 19th, 2008 | 0 comments
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Genesis 9, Noah invents slavery
We see some great family-friendly entertainment in this chapter.
God decides to make all animals afraid of humans, so that humans can eat them more easily. Violence, and the fear of violence, seems to be the main motivation for most of what happens in the Old Testament.
Apparently, God does postmortem interviews with all animals to find out how they were killed. If people eat animals that still has blood in them, it’s a big no-no (for some ungiven reason). And killing humans is right out. Genesis 9:6 (KJV) says:
"Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed"
This is probably how some people who are pro-capital punishment justify it. Problem is, there are many, many times that God commands people to kill other people for crimes less than murder. And times when people kill other people and aren’t put to death (Cain’s murder, for example). If God really wanted murderers killed, couldn’t he do so himself instead of letting imperfect humans decide who should and shouldn’t be put to death? Not to mention that God kills plenty of people himself, meaning he should kill himself (maybe that’s why we don’t hear from him much anymore?).
God also promises (again) not to flood the earth and kill everything again. How nice of him not to kill off his creation! Rainbows remind him not to kill everyone in a flood again. It would be better if the rainbows came BEFORE the rain, so maybe he would remember to spare people in the non-global but still lethal floods that are increasing around the globe.
Then, we have something funky going on between drunk Noah and his family (9:18-28). It’s not clear what on earth happened other than Noah got drunk, one of his sons (Ham) sees him naked, two of his other sons go in and cover him up, and then after Noah sobers up (and is probably hung over) he unilaterally curses Ham’s son Canaan slavery. Why would Noah curse Ham’s son because Ham saw Noah naked and told his brothers? You could argue that Noah would want to curse Ham for seeing him naked and spreading the word to his brothers without covering him up. But what does this have to do with Ham’s son?!?
If God disapproved of this behavior (both the lying around naked and the seemingly randomly making his grandson a slave), he certainly could have said or done something about it. But no such thing happens. Noah condemns his grandson to slavery. A "righteous" man (Genesis 7:1) indeed…
Christians tell their kids about how Noah built the ark, but never explain that he invented slavery.
I’m continuing with Genesis 7-8 right away since it continues the flood story. Noah and the Ark is considered a fun kids’ story. I used to think so, too, when I was a kid. God saving all the animals! One of my favorite songs was (and is, for different reasons now) "Rise and Shine". But how does the sanitized song compare to the "real" thing? Let’s see!
(PS I can’t find authorship for this song, and there appear to be a number of variations out there; if I find the original or the authors, I will list them here. Here’s a similar version on YouTube. )
CHORUS: Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory, children of the Lord.
Yes kids, you are God’s special children! … What did you say, Timmy? Are children of the Lord the same as sons of God in Genesis 6? Where did that question come from? Well, I guess so, we’re all sons and daughters of God because he loves us! Okay, let’s continue with the song now!
1. The Lord said to Noah, “There’s gonna be a floody, floody.” Lord said to Noah, “There’s gonna be a floody, floody.” “Get those animals out of the muddy, muddy, children of the Lord.”
Wasn’t it nice, children, for God to warn Noah about the flood? Otherwise Noah and the animals would have gotten all wet! …What’s that, Timmy? Why was there a flood? Couldn’t God have stopped the flood and eliminated the need to build an ark and save the animals? Umm…be quiet and sing!
2. So Noah, he built him, he built him an arky arky Noah, he built him, he built him an arky arky Made it out of gopher barky, barky, children of the Lord
Noah was a great builder! Do any of you like big boats, too? … What’s up now, Timmy? … No, I don’t know what gopher bark was, the Bible doesn’t say. It must have been some magical material because it was strong enough to hold all the animals, and Noah and his family! … No, it’s not impossible to build a vessel like the one described in the Bible, and even if it was God can help people do things that seem impossible! Okay? Now, let’s go on!
3. The animals, they came on, they came on by twosies, twosies, Animals, they came on, they came on by twosies, twosies, Elephants and kangaroosies, roosies, children of the Lord
Wouldn’t that be fun to go on a big boat with all those animals? It would be tons of fun, just like a big old zoo! … Now what, Timmy? … Yes, it does say in Genesis 7 that Noah took seven of clean animals and birds. That’s a pretty smart question for a 5-year-old! …What does "clean" mean? Well it means that they weren’t dirty, I guess. Just like you’re supposed to be nice and squeaky clean before you go to church! …No, God wouldn’t have drowned you if you forgot to clean behind your ears, don’t be silly! Moving on…
4. It rained and poured for forty daysies, daysies Rained and poured for forty daysies, daysies Nearly drove those animals crazies, crazies, children of the Lord.
Forty days is a long time to be in a boat, isn’t it kids? But I bet it was still fun! … What do you want now, Timmy? … Well, yes I guess you could say the verses about the flood give different numbers that seem contradictory, who told you that? And where on Earth did a 5-year-old like you learn the word "contradictory"? You’re driving me crazies-crazies with all these questions! … Well, yes all the other animals that weren’t on the ark did die in the flood … Well, no the animals didn’t do anything wrong. … Yes, all the people died, too, except Noah and his family, because God saved them! … Why’d he kill the rest of humanity? Because they were bad and God wanted to teach them a lesson, but Noah was a good man. … What do you mean he was a drunk who liked to lay around naked? Where do you get such crazy ideas?!?! …Stop crying, Sally, Timmy doesn’t mean it! Now just be quiet kids and listen!
5. The sun came out and dried up the landy, landy Sun came out and dried up the landy, landy Everything was fine and dandy, dandy, children of the Lord.
After the flood, God sent us a beautiful, sunny day to show us everything was okay!! You again, Timmy? … I guess there would be dead carcasses everywhere after the flood dried up. … Yes, and dead people everywhere. … Yes, I’m sure it smelled really bad. … Well, besides that, it was fine and dandy, and it was nice and sunny again! Stop interrupting!!! And Sally, quit pinching your nose!
6. The animals, they came out, they came out by threesies, threesies. Animals, they came out, they came out by threesies, threesies. Dogs and cats and chimpanzeesies, zeesies, children of the Lord.
You see kids, then all the animals could come out and play again! … Yes, Timmy? … They came out by threesies because all the mommy and daddy animals had a baby! … Um, you can ask your mom how that happens. … Is that why God had Noah put seven storks on the ark? I guess that would make sense, thank you Timmy! … You were being sarcastic? How do you even know the word "sarcastic"? We’re almost done, so just be quiet!!!!
7. Now this is the end of, the end of our story, story. This is the end of, the end of our story, story. Everything is hunky dory, dory, children of the Lord.
That’s the end of … What it is NOW, Timmy?!?! … Yes, it was honky dory, why do you ask? … Well, the Bible says God did feel bad about the flood, yes… No, that doesn’t mean he made a mistake! God is perfect! … Yes, God did promise never to flood the planet again. See how nice God is! … Well Katrina was different. … No they didn’t deserve it because they were all gay, where did you hear that? … Your mom said that? Well, you’ll have to take that up with her, then.
Well, that’s it, kiddies! Time to go out and live like God’s little children! … This is the last time, Timmy, now what do you want to ask? … Well, yes, people still sin. … So what did it solve to kill all those people and animals, then?!?
I give up!!! I’ve had it!!! Either you go Timmy, or I go! God, where’s a flood when you need one? Calgon, take me away!!!
Posted by admin on September 6th, 2008 | 0 comments
Saturday, September 06, 2008
In the beginning…Genesis 1 & 2
I’ve been reading Genesis, and it’s actually amazing how tame the creation story is compared to much of the rest of the Bible. I’m also realizing though that I can’t possibly comment on every single thing I find wrong (or right) with the Bible; I’ll eventually have to pace myself. But for now, I’ll do a couple of the first chapters of Genesis. I may come back and look at some parts more in detail later; for now, this is a quick overview.
Genesis 1. Might as well start with the beginning. Obviously, scientifically the 7-day creation story (or 6 days, plus a personal day for God) is complete nonsense, but the idea behind the whole thing is kind of nice and the language is actually poetic. Some people claim that the days aren’t real day as we humans count them, or that it’s not meant to be literal. Then why not just explain that in the Bible?? The darn thing is certainly not meant to be concise as it is, so a few words of explanation here or there wouldn’t really have hurt.
The first creation story (Genesis 1) seems to put women on a level playing field with men, which is a very good thing, but not in sync with the rest of the Bible and pretty much most civilizations until very recently (we’re still not at total gender parity, but thankfully we’re light years ahead of some of the stuff in the Bible I know is coming up). There are theories about different authors being responsible for the various parts of the Pentateuch (5 so-called books of Moses), so it’s hard to say if it was some fairly forward-thinking writer whose ideas in the first chapter of Genesis were merged with most of the other xenophobic, women-hating blood-thirsty wackos who wrote the rest of the Bible, or if it’s just a fluke that there was something laudable so early on in the "great book".
I personally don’t like though the idea that God gives humans "dominion" over everything on Earth. I don’t know what gave humans the idea that we could just do whatever we wanted to the living things on the planet. I think this is a huge problem in human history, and the Bible isn’t the only problem-causer. We think we’re so smart and advanced that we are better, or at least separate, from every other living thing on this planet. Which apparently means we have the right to destroy and abuse everything with impunity at our every whim. Given the planet’s rapidly deteriorating health and how many species have gone or may soon be extinct due to human "mismanagement" of the planet, if God really did put us in charge of the Earth, he really screwed this one up.
Genesis 2. One thing the Bible can be thanked for is the idea that even an all-powerful being needs a day off from work every once in a while. Although there is a lot I don’t like about the Sabbath, Genesis 2 at least set a precedent for taking a break from work. It’s too bad this arguably worker-friendly beginning is offset by the whole pro-slavery thread that runs through the Bible (even Jesus gets in the act, but that’s many books later that we’ll see that).
Humans are created again in Genesis 2 (God can be forgetful at times). When Adam doesn’t take to any of the animals God creates for him (again, he already forgot he created the animals! Maybe that’s why they went in by twos, or sevens, into Noah’s Ark?), then God decides to invent a woman (again) by forming her from Adam’s rib this time around.
I don’t know which is worse, being made out of some wet clay like Adam was, or out of a man’s rib like Eve was. I think this storyline, whether intentionally or not, serves to go against what many cultures believed: that women are the sacred givers of life. Since women give birth, it seems like a logical way of looking at things. But since God tells us in the Bible that Eve came out of Adam’s rib, then obviously women come from men, and not vice versa. This conveniently (intentionally or not) reinforces men’s claim to dominance over women.