Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Deuteronomy As I Would Deuter Unto You


Everyone's talking about religious freedom, which doesn't mean what it used to mean. It means you have the right to refuse to sell someone a wedding cake if you think Satan gets to lick the bowl. We're talking about some seriously special rights, here. I mean, I have some very strongly held personal beliefs based on my own observations about justice, morality, and the human condition, but none of them--none of them--can be said to be religious in nature, by which I mean Flang Out Of The Sky On A Tablet. Or even Strongly Suggested By The Great God Thor, or in any other way handed down from some entity that nobody has personally met and vetted. No, my strongly held personal beliefs have no official provenance whatsoever. And yet state legislatures are now treating these matters as though my beliefs aren't worth anything, they're all veneer and refinishing, and everyone else's have the Antiques Road Show seal of approval. It's all about the provenance.

If you've got some belief system that originated with a bunch of wandering goatherds 3,000 years ago, you're going to get way more money for it, conservatively speaking, at auction, than I am going to get for a belief system that's only a hair over sixty years old and makes some kind of sense in the real world. Screw that--it's got no value unless it can reliably be shown to have been committed to papyrus. I'm still free to put a frame around my beliefs and enjoy them in my own home and pass them down to the kids, but nobody's going to give me any money for them.

Which brings me to Deuteronomy 23. The issue is whether any given soul should be allowed to be in the company of God (which is assumed to be desirable, no matter how mean God might have been in the previous four chapters), and it turns out there are rules. Lots of rules. First verse in Deuteronomy 23: "He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord." What does that mean? That means King James was one lyrical sumbitch. That's poetry, right there. Which means it needs to be improved on in the modern era, thus: "A man whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off may never join the assembly of the Lord."

Them's the rules, Stumpy. It doesn't really matter if it was an accident involving loose underpants and the company table saw, or something featuring a machete and a girl named Lola and you totally had it coming. Nope. You're out. And while we're at it, you're also out if you're a dwarf, or have runny sores, or bad eyes, or a rash. You're pretty much doomed if you're out of plumb in any significant way, or are anything other than perfect, and we'll get to the sin of pride in another chapter and verse.

This is the kind of religion we're enshrining here in the U.S.A., or at least Indiana and some nineteen other states. By George Washington, you're free to make any old cake you want. But if you want to stay on the right side of the Lord, you'd best ask your customers to drop their drawers before you do any sellin'. I'm not going to Hell because I hate to travel, but you--you'd better not take any chances.

29 comments:

  1. Sigh. And hiss and spit.
    Sadly religious freedom like that allows people like Pastor Deacon Fred of Iowa to survive and thrive. Among other things this very special man suggests that children should be kept in line and says ' It might be something as simple as organizing a Harry Potter book burning, or placing your child's hands on a hot stove if you catch them masturbating. It could even be a simple gesture, like shipping your 11-year-old son off to military school, or cutting off part of your daughter's ear for listening to N'Sync. We've got to get back to God, folks! We've got to do it fast, and we don't have time to worry about nonsense like "human rights violations!" Jesus, Please allow us to legally do what you tell us to do in that precious Book your Daddy wrote!'
    Oh dear. People like him just plain frighten me. I would much, much rather bake cakes for a positive rainbow of weddings than have anything to do with him, or anyone like him.

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    1. For some reason I just remembered what my mom did when we got a little burn, not that she should have. She put butter on it. So if you put a masturbating child's hand on a hot stove, and then you butter it, and send him to his room...

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    2. Pastor Deacon Fred is a satire created by an excellent humorist and writer, a lot like Murr herself. Check out his Facebook page or tweets. They are great.

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  2. My state, Georgia, has been trying hard to enshrine religion in the old sense, not yours. The problem here may be testicles and penises -- there are too many of them in the State Legislature. Mostly they're white, too, or so I assume. There has been no drawer-dropping, as least not actually.

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    1. "Testicles" comes from the Latin for "Look at these."

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  3. God seems oddly fixated on the importance of intact male genitalia among those who get to hang out with him. Makes you wonder what he has in mind.

    This also means that back when the Catholic Church used to castrate boys for their choirs (or for even more dubious reasons), they were excluding them from "the assembly of the Lord". Omelets and eggs, I guess.

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  4. Let us pray: Oh, Lord, protect us heathens from Your followers....

    They say that we hate in others that which we see in ourselves. Perhaps that explains why we've gotten our knickers in a twist about the more rabid followers of Islam -- the rabid followers of Christianity here are not much different.

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    1. You know, I *have* noticed that sometimes when someone rags on about somebody, it's frequently a complaint I have about them. I'm constantly amazed the way the human mind works, but we shouldn't trust it.

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  5. And this is why I feel so comfortable here at the Church of Murr!

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    1. If you could just bring your pork product up and lay it on the altar grill...

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  6. P. S. I've emailed a reply to your reply ... just in case it didn't make it to your inbox :)

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    1. Always good to check. Yes, you confounded my spam folder this time!

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  7. Perhaps this explains what all those naughty priests have been up to ...just examining young boys to be sure they aren't mutilated in any way.

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  8. Wow! You went straight to Deuteronomy without touching on Leviticus. Might have missed an opportunity there,Murr.

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    1. Never. In fact, the bit about the dwarfs and the runny sores is straight out of Leviticus. That's a well that just keeps springing forth.

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  9. Good one, Murr. I hate all that religious bullshit. And why is it that those professing to be doing "God's will" are always the most hateful? God should sue them for slander.

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    1. With the exception of Mr. Jimmy Carter--oh yes. Slander it is.

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  10. "The religious persecution of the ages has been done under what was claimed to be the command of God. I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do to their fellows, because it always coincides with their own desires." -- Susan B. Anthony

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    1. And their own prejudices. Myself, I feel a little sorry for folks with damaged junk.

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  11. So we can assume that Lorena Bobbitt will enter into the congregation of the Lord. But what about John Bobbitt, whose privy member Lorena relieved him of? Surgeons reattached the wayward willie, but does Neuteronomy 23 consider that a technicality?

    By the way, "flang" is a verb worthy of its own Bible verse.

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  12. Neuteronomy. Bowing in your direction, sir! Now I'm second-guessing the Acts of the Apostles.

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  13. And them's the rules, Stumpy. :-)

    You made me laugh out loud.

    Pearl

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    1. A finer compliment I could not ask for.

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  14. Makes me want to wear a protective cup for Jesus! Maybe God is a Catholic priest with a penchant for little boys' junk.
    I like cake and don't care who its for and if my freedom of cake eating is infringed upon I might just get a bit beyond peeved.

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  15. That God fella is a fussy old bugger, choosy about who he lets in his house.
    His son, Jesus, seems a much more likeable bloke, easier to get on with, going about healing people and feeding them loaves and fishes and such.

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