The Bible’s God

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / Social Epistemology / gods /

God: According to the Bible

“The Lord is My Shepherd,” the Psalmist sang.

My Grisham juror in the current novel reads the Bible for comfort: to relax. The narrator says “She was in close contact with God, and he would protect her.” [Sorry, I can’t say which year I wrote this.]

The shepherd protects the sheep: so he can shear it for wool, so he can kill it and eat it, so he can sell it. What does God want with the Psalmist? or with Miss Callie? David himself was a shepherd as a boy. As a man, he’s a king, the people a flock: but not a flock he can eat or sell. What does a king want with a people? Ah, he can shear them.

Don’t mind me: I know perfectly well: people believe that God will protect them, that God controls their luck, that if they observe the superstitions in the right, traditional way, that God will assure that their luck is good.

Where do people get this belief? Certainly not from the Bible.

Jews have this belief: and they wrote the Bible. Christians too have this belief: but their rewriting of the Bible supports the supposition even less than the Jews’ version.

God inundated Job with suffering: and Job was his good servant. God kept Moses out of Israel: and Moses was his big prophet. God tried to kill Moses when Moses was younger: only the mutilation of Moses’ son (by his wife) warded off the attack. The Jews are God’s Chosen People. What has God done to assure the Jews of good luck? Wouldn’t it rather seem that he treats them like Job?

The Christians make their Bible worse: God sends his own son to be vilified, condemned … scourged, tortured to death. Then his son goes to hell for a while. Would you call this good luck?

The Church acts in God’s name on earth, right? Ivan Illich was the Church’s greatest priest. The Church thought so, at first: the public thought so, for a while longer. The Church defrocked him, forbade him to say his precious masses. It was clear to me that Illich was speaking for the god of vital possibility; the Church was speaking for the God who tortures his best people.

I saw that Illich was an ameliorist, makes things better: or tries. I jumped to help him. I understood more than half-way that God might try to kill me, make me suffer, put me in hell. Still, helping Illich, trying to de-claw man a bit, was the right thing to do.

Sure enough: Illich died in agony: still full of love though. I don’t think I had much love in me when I jumped to help him. But I saw that as irrelevant: it was the right thing to do.

god does his thing. God did his thing. And the public did their thing: they didn’t pay the slightest attention. If you could walk around Golgotha, interview the gawkers, who would they say was on the cross? God? God’s son? a good man? the best man? No: they’d say he was a condemned criminal. Technically, they’d be right. He’d just been convicted by the usual kangaroos. Truthfully, they’d be wrong. As usual.

When the author(s) of the book of Job did their work, I’ll bet anything that they knew perfectly well that their story would have zero effect on people’s belief that God plays favorites with the faithful. The Jews’ beliefs didn’t come from Judaism. Christians/ beliefs don’t come from Christianity: or from Judaism. People’s beliefs are much older. People believe that superstition, the right ritual, will give them the magic to control the god who controls their luck. No number of stories, no plots illustrating the opposite, can affect that belief. People’s beliefs are connected neither to experience nor to literature. Politicians join God in understanding this. No matter what you do to people, people will still believe that they’ve got pie coming: and that they’re doing their best magic to make it come.

The other day I wrote to bkMarcus about Grisham’s Miss Callie. “She reads the Bible to calm down. Can she possibly really know how to read it then? Like using a wood rasp as a sedative.”

Like using a wood rasp as a sedative.

bk wrote back:

Familiar syntax eclipses semantic content.

That’s it. Civilization doesn’t teach literacy to communicate: it uses it as a soporific. That’s all the more reason to assign anthems in absurd syntax to children not yet quite sure of ordinary syntax.

religion a soporific?
thanx telegraph

Bible Stories I’ve put in my Teaching / Scholarship section.

Cosmology, Theology

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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