The Bible Ain't No Nursery Rhyme
Reading the Bible, I expected to read stories that I knew. At this point that is few and far between.
Sure, I know Adam and Eve, the parting of the Red Sea, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Noah’s ark. But that is about all the stories I’ve known so far. All that I know of that I haven’t got to yet are David and Goliath and Job. I guess it isn’t that I expected to know more stories, as I have a real lack of knowledge in Bibles stories, but I think I expected these stories to be longer.
Most of the stories I knew were in Genesis and they were only a dozen paragraphs or so. There seems to be very little description. I think I am used to modern day writing where motivation and detail are large parts of the story. It almost feels as if these stories are written for children since they are so simple. Of course they are largely dark and scary which I would not really want to tell my children about.
But it is similar to Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie. Peter and Wendy is the story of Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up. Nowadays it is considered a children’s classic thanks to the adaptation by Disney, but in the original book there are many things that would be frightening to children. There are pirates, bears, alligators, Indians, and other things that delight in killing each other. There are passages about blood lust and kidnapping.
There is even a very sad portion where the parents of Wendy cry in her room after her and brothers leave for Neverland. They sit in the room staring at the open window feeling that they should have done more to protect their kids, but they had been kidnapped and there was nothing they could do to see them again.
The point is the Bible is similar in having themes that are too scary for the mind of a child, although it is written so simply that a child would understand it. God committing plagues on Egypt and murdering their children, floods that wipe out the Earth, wars that obliterate entire peoples… But maybe it is the same as Peter and Wendy.
Peter and Wendy was written at a time when an eight year old may be done with school and be working on the farm. If the father had died for some reason it is possible that a ten year old boy may become the man of the house. So, the book was written for a demographic that was still impressionable enough to fantasize about a place where they could be a kid forever, but also hardened enough to handle the idea of murder, kidnapping, and torture.
The Bible was also written in a time much different than today. Most likely a child could handle the things said in the Bible at a much younger age than today. It makes me question how much we shelter our children. We like to think that we are protecting them, but maybe we are stunting their development.
Could it be possible that the amount of thirty year olds who still live with their parents and are accepting of being taken care of well into adulthood is a reflection of our trying to protect our kids? Maybe the reason the Bible surprises me in its ruthlessness is because I was sheltered too long. Maybe I would know and understand it better if I was thrown into the real world sooner. I am not saying that we need to re-instate child labor, but maybe we are trying to keep the terrible truths of life from our kids for too long.
Bible Read: Judges 7
Oh, That Again
Yesterday I talked about the Bible stories and the fact that I haven’t known many of them thus far. But what I didn’t mention was how unmemorable they have been.
Seeing how the Bible is one of the most famous books in our society, I expected some greatness out of it. I wanted to be inspired page after page as I learned of these great stories of great men. And to be fair, I have been impressed by a couple. The overall arch of Moses was very uplifting even if he never got to the lands promised to his fathers and the story of Joseph was amazing. But, as a whole the stories are often bland and boring.
Setting aside my dislike of all the wrath of God stuff, the stories are similar to each other. Joshua is invasion, invasion, invasion... Judges thus far has been, Israelites are bad and they are punished. They whine and then God helps them out. I can’t keep straight which Israel leader led the people into which country and which people they became sinners with.
It feels repetitive and pointless. I get the idea that if they sin against God they get seven years of torture. I get when they are good they get 40 years of prosperity. But to tell me the same story over and over with the names changed is redundant. I would think that the constant repetition of things like this would hammer into the reader what is bad and what isn’t. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
If that were so you would think Christians would be most careful not to worship other Gods and not work on Sunday. Those things are harped upon consistently. But from the Christians I know, they are typically more concerned with love thy neighbor and attending church. Maybe these are mentioned more in the later books, but as of now those are almost afterthoughts compared to two over-mentioned sins.
But it isn’t just the sins that are repetitive. The miracles seem to repeat as well. God brought them out of Egypt, helped conquer people, and conquer people, and conquer people. He caused plagues of flies, and gnats, and frogs, locusts. He parted the red sea and later he parted the river Jordan.
It just doesn’t seem so memorable. I feel like I am reading the same things over and not getting anything out of it the second, third, fourth, and fifth times.
Bible Read: Judges 11
Morality is Technically Subjective
My morals may be off kilter. It would be my assumption that going to war to defend a criminal is worse than missing a meeting. I feel fairly passionate about that too. As I do with my feelings that not observing the Sabbath should not be a sin punishable by death.
God’s morals seem to be the polar opposite. I am referring to the Battle of Gibeah.
To summarize for anyone who doesn’t know. A Levite man was traveling across the land with his servant, donkeys and concubine. He stopped in a town in the tribe of Benjamin. He stayed the night with an old man. Some people within Benjamin came to the house of the old man and demanded he give over the Levite so that they could rape him. The old man offered up the Levite’s concubine instead.
They rape and kill the concubine. Some stuff happens, but essentially all of Israel rises up against the rapists except Benjamin. So the rest of Israel goes to war with the tribe of Benjamin. They nearly eradicate the tribe, but then decide to let some live. They have a big assembly to talk about how to let the tribe of Benjamin to survive since they have vowed to not allow any of their own to marry a Benjamin male. One town sent no representative, Jabesh Gilead. So, the whole of Israel goes into Jabesh Gilead and kills everyone in the town except the female virgins and gives them to the tribe of Benjamin as wives as some sort of equal justice in punishment of the town and a way to allow the tribe of Benjamin to continue its existence.
In the long run it appears as though the greater sin between harboring a fugitive and missing a meeting is the latter. This is just another in a long list of examples regarding the ranking of sins.
I would have assumed that harboring a fugitive would be worse, but who am I to say? I would have thought attempting genocide on a tribe of people would have been the worse sin of all in this story, but that sin was urged on by God himself. It seems as though sins are ignorable when they are suggested from high as a mission to his people.
I think the issue is that I am too well grounded in my physical reality. My spiritual side seems to be all in my head right now, so finding sins against God seem to be less harmful than sins against man. Although, it appears that God cannot sin against man, which is a little confusing. This is an area that I need to think about as I continue on.
Bible Read: Judges 21
Status Report Day 37
Judges is a dark book. It covers a time in Israel where bad things happen time and time again. This seems to reflect pretty well my thoughts on the Bible up to this point.
I was hoping that writing all this would be uplifting and full of new lessons, but it has been more depressing and full of questions for God. I want to move forward seeing the positives from the Bible as opposed to seeing the positives from the Bible as opposed to all the bad things.
It also has made me very glad I live in the time I do. Life sounds horrible in the world of biblical Israel. You not only have to worry about your sins against God, but also the sins of your community. Time and time again people have destroyed cities and killed man, women, and children.
Today we still see people who group people together and murder large groups based on their decisions as whole, but it is done by governments. It seems more reasonable for a country to war with another country and kill its citizens than it does for God. I am not saying it is ok for countries to do this, but when you think about man you assume he is flawed, you assume he makes mistakes. But for God to do this it seems as though he is making a flawed decision. But you want to think of God as infallible.
But maybe this is all a message to the people of today to not tolerate wickedness. Maybe this is telling us that when a country becomes a menace and an evil presence we should not tolerate them because of innocents in their land. Maybe we should put them to death at the means necessary to reach the leader. Then again maybe the killing of the “innocents” IS necessary. If the evil leader has left his ideology behind it might be important to eradicate his followers as well. I don’t know for sure, but this all seems to be so sad.
Days Reading: 37
Chapters Read: 232
Books Read: 7
Percentage Read: 17.33%
Overall Opinion of God: Negative… And possibly Extra-Terrestrial
Bible Read: Judges