Friday, December 12, 2008

Bible Story Time

Christmastime is almost here. But, of course, everyone already knows that. Remaining unaware of this holiday's impending arrival would require extreme measures in our society.

All the signs of the season are out in force: nausea-inducing "music" pollutes the air in numerous public places, it's cold as hell outside, and blowhard self-appointed spokespeople for what is by far the country's largest and most powerful religion are once again decrying their alleged persecution through the fictional struggle they have named the war on Christmas.

The most horrifying atrocity the stalwart defenders of all things Christmas are able to point to is the selective removal of various religious aspects of the holiday. Thus, signs reading "X-mas" rather than "Christmas" or corporate employees greeting customers with a friendly "Happy Holidays" as opposed to "Merry Christmas" are highly offensive to such people. Of course, I think this whole controversy is merely a tempest in a tea cup, but people are free to get upset about whatever they want. After all, it's primarily their own blood pressure that suffers.

I would like to point out, however, that most Christians are perfectly happy to engage in selective omission when it suits them. Most people in our society are relatively familiar with particular passages from the Bible, but many others get far less attention. Especially during the Christmas season, everyone seems to focus on the warm and fuzzy Bible stories. This just doesn't seem right to me. There are plenty of fascinating stories being left out. So I've decided to step up and combat this terrible war on the unpopular parts of the Bible.

I'll start with what is by far my favorite Bible verse, Ezekiel 23:20, which reads as follows: "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses."

Now that's a verse I'd like to see referenced on more signs at sporting events.

Continuing on with my little project, I will now retell the little-known tale of Dinah and the Shechemites, which can be found in Genesis 34.

Dinah was a daughter of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob. One day, she was out in the fields when a man named Shechem, who was the son of a local ruler named Hamor the Hivite, raped her. Of course, Dinah's brothers were quite upset about what had happened, but Hamor tried to smooth things over with Jacob's family by suggesting that Dinah and Shechem get married. Because, apparently, that would make everything OK.

Dinah's brothers acted as though they found this proposal to be acceptable. However, they informed Shechem and Hamor that their entire town would have to get circumcised before it would be acceptable for their two families to intermarry. Because Shechem was so smitten with the woman he had raped, he agreed and persuaded all the other men in the town to get circumcised. Three days later, when the men were still recovering from the procedure, two of Dinah's brothers entered the town and killed all of them. They then proceeded to make off with loot consisting of the town's flocks, herds, and women.

Now, some may insist that such horrid things are all in the Old Testament. But that really isn't the case. The New Testament isn't as kind and gentle as it's generally made out to be.

For example, in Matthew 10:34, Jesus says, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

Though that passage doesn't mention what exactly Jesus plans to do with the sword, he does make use of such an implement in a later book.

Revelation 19 describes Jesus' return to Earth at some point in the future. As he is coming down out of the sky, a sharp sword comes out of his mouth. The sword then strikes down all of the armies standing against him. The passage goes on to describe how birds arrive to gorge on the flesh of those who have been killed.

So have a merry Christmas everyone. And enjoy baby Jesus while you can. It's not until he grows up that he's likely to slice anybody up into bird feed.

(Cross-posted at the DI's main site.)


jaf said...

it's nice to see Ezekiel 23:20 get a little web-time. Nice work!

Janet Green said...

The only critique of this article is that it wasn't nearly long enough. I wish you would keep going - educate people about what this "holy book" really has to say. According to the bible, god is responsible for far more murders than Saddam Hussein and Adolph Hitler put together. The devil is notably absent for most of these murders, curiously. How this can be called a religion of peace requires a level of spin not seen until the Bush administration.