After having made it through most of the Christian bible’s Old Testament, perusing now Isaiah, I see what many people with whom I’ve spoken say about the beauty and kindness contained within said book’s pages. There are fantastic passages that seem to tell the reader to be merciful and good. I also see, however, how someone reading this ancient text could soon become radicalized and filled with righteous hatred.
Psalms 137:8-9 (Good News Bible, Today’s English Version) for example says: “Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the man who pays you back for what you have done to us - who takes your babies and smashes them against a rock.” The Old Testament abounds with such language, with pleasure gained from the suffering of innocent victims, with pleas to Yahweh that the reader might rejoice when the children’s children’s children of this foe or that enemy are punished for his misdeeds. Taken out of context, of course, such words would horrify any modern, rational, sane-minded individual.
Why, though, are such hateful and despicable passages still in the text? Why have they not been excised? Why does the Christian bible still contain parts that call for finding joy in the suffering of others, kids and other innocents alike? Anybody who recites the Nicene creed must believe in the Old Testament, including that: “Intelligent people talk sense, but stupid people need to be punished” (Proverbs 10:13). Punished by whom, though, and when? By an armed teenager, today, or by a bloodthirst god thousands of years ago? Keeping such destructive and terrifying language in one’s holy book encourages weak-minded and easily excitable individuals, who seek guidance from Bronze-age belief systems such as the Christian bible, to harm others. The bible has been changed before, for purposes political and power-related. Why not change it again and take out all the hate-mongering and schadenfreude? While it’s not a perfect system, anyone looking for a different and more peaceful path might turn, for example, to Buddhism, a code that contains within itself far fewer calls to abject violence against persons who cannot defend themselves.
americanifesto / 場黑麥 / jpr / urbanartopia / whorphan
The man got his news from one source, and one source only. He didn’t need to diversify his sources, because “This is America, daggonit, and as an American in America I’m allowed to do as I please.” The talking heads appearing on his favorite conservative-leaning television station told him everything he needed to know, and he liked it that way.
He also listened to his wife, of course, who sometimes passed along knowledge and advice gained from her circle of friends and family. Which meant he got news from at least two sources. He also listened to the pastor of his church, of course, and read such bible verses as appeared on the mobile application a grandchild had installed on his phone. Which meant he got news from at least four sources. He also listed to some of his conservative-leaning friends, whose opinions tended, at times, to match his. Which meant he got news from at least eight sources.
And yet, when pressed, he insisted that he got his news from one source, and one source only. The man was fearful, you see, and stubborn. He had learned to stick to his guns no matter what. Even if it meant being wrong, and lying to himself, and riding roughshod over the gut-knowledge that he was acting foolishly. Even if it meant being cruel to others, and attacking them personally because of their views. Because, in America, where the gentle nonconformist gets steamrolled daily by ten million angry yes-men, corporations don’t profit when people are open-minded or learn from mistakes.
americanifesto / 場黑麥 / jpr / urbanartopia / whorphan
rapid and furious
In the prayer room of a local hospital, a man was caught stealing and otherwise abusing copies of the Quran, Islam’s holy book. Accepting of most viewpoints and bursting with forgiveness, the chaplain in charge of the prayer room finally figured out who had been violating the sanctity of the sacred spaces in his care. Instead of having the offender arrested for the hate crimes he’d been committing, however, the chaplain merely alerted hospital security, who in turn approached the offender and gave him a stern warning, whereupon he pledged to cease his hateful, criminal assault. The man claimed he had been desecrating the translations of the Quran out of concern for the spiritual safety of his Christian neighbors. In his mind, it appears, the Muslim teachings promote only death and hatred - leaving no room for celebration, compassion, or love.
Imagine for a moment that this scenario had played out the other way around, that a non-Christian had been entering local chapels to steal, ruin, and similarly abuse the Christian holy books stored therein. Imagine he claimed he was doing it to protect the minds of children from the influence of Yahweh, the Christian god, who orders his followers to kill homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13); to murder people who work on Saturday, the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14); and to end the lives of those who don’t believe in him (2 Chronicles 15:12-13). Oh, how swift would be his likely judgement, how brutal the townspeople's reaction. Such an offender would probably rot in jail for months until he faced a hostile judge and jury; then, he’d go back to jail for the maximum period of time allowed by law.
Why did hospital security not take steps to prosecute the Christian who was abusing Qurans? Why did they not do everything in their power to protect the persons working in or visiting the hospital from the openly violent ways of a religious extremist? To this author’s eye, it seems that the original offender was given a pass because he was a Christian who chose to abuse the Muslim holy book. If this scenario had played out any differently, the outcome would have been one of rapid and furious action in the pursuit of justice. The area in which these hate crimes occurred is predominantly Christian; it is therefore not surprising that a person who would act in the manner of a Christian terrorist should receive not his due punishment but a mere slap on the wrist. When justice is kept blind, mankind has the chance to achieve greatness; when those who deserve her wrath are instead allowed to roam free, their minds poisoned by prejudice and hatred, the human race is doomed to wallow in fear-soaked failure.
© JPR / whorphan / americanifesto / 場黑麥
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I bicycle, write, surf, and strive.