Tuesday, July 24, 2012

#66- Analogies, Parallels, Precedents, and Understanding

My NIV Bible.  This will be in a museum one day.
It is 100% true that I don't understand 100% of the Bible.  It is 100% true that I am learning everyday.  I get 100% upset to be told by believers that I don't understand their Bible.  My Student New International Version (NIV) Bible was dumb down to a middle-school level.  They practically guided the reader on what to think and how to think about it.  It was amusing on one hand and insulting on the other.

This post is an attempt to show a Bible theist that I do understand their book.  I disagree with a lot of it.  I also acknowledge that there is an almost endless stream of interpretations and apologetics for most of the Bible.  For the purpose of this blog entry I will use a story in 2 Samuel Chapters 11 and 12 to illustrate understanding and context.

1.  Context

Nathan used an allegory to show David the errors of his ways.  He knew exactly what context to use to encite David to react positively to the way he (Nathan) wanted him to.  Had Nathan been blunt with his appraisal of David's behavior he may have been harmed or not well received.  This story is so powerful to me as it is the #1 way that I try to show Bible believers that they share the same ethics as me and that they don't really value the morality of the book.

2.  Analogies

As a poet I use analogies almost without thinking about it.  I think we all tend to use common things that we are familiar with in order to translate fuzzy ideas and concepts into something more familiar. One of the biggest objections and hurdles that I have with Yahweh and the people who worship him is the concept of GENOCIDE.

My notes.  This story was really insightful.
The Holocaust was an attempt at genocide by the regime of Adolf Hitler.  It is one of many mass atrocities that one human group has attempted on another for various reasons.  Rwanda had a horrible episode of heinous barbarism in the mid 1990's as one group tried to wipe the other out.  These two recent cases are fresh in some people's minds and I don't know of anyone who is willing to defend Adolf Hitler's actions toward the Jews and others.  We all seem to instinctively understand that no amount of reworking of the obvious evil of the Germans can right their actions.  This should be painfully obvious to the Jews as they were the ones who suffered the most under Hitler.  At press time I don't know of any Jew who is openly revolting against the idea genocide in the Jewish Bible.  To be fair, Jews are quiet as a group overall.  Their Christian brethren are more boisterous but are reluctant to "call a spade a spade".

3.  Parallels

I was born in Haiti.  A land that once possessed an indigenous people called the Arawaks and Tainos.  They were wiped out by greedy explorers who were, among other things, Christians.  Other colonials came to what became America and slowly to more and more land.  In order to justify this travesty somebody came up with the idea of "MANIFEST DESTINY".  This basically meant that the European invaders felt entitled to the land and their march westward by virtue of their religion.  After reading the Bible I know exactly where they got this ghastly concept from.

The above is a historic fact.  The stories of Genesis and Exodus are said to be historic as well by believers.  In Genesis Abraham hears a voice that eventually promises him a plot of land for his descendants.  The parameters of this real estate is explicitly described.  Eventually, Moses comes a long and before long the natives of the "Promised Land" start dying.  Yahweh ordered a genocide.  The native Canaanite nations didn't even know about a deal between a man who was dead for hundreds of years had struck with an invisible voice. Moses and Joshua saw to it that men, women, children, and animals were killed.  The Jews made sure that they robbed the riches of the Canaanites.  The soldiers were told to save some of the little girls for themselves to pleasure themselves.

I automatically understood that this was a ploy to warrant the slaughter of people to grab land.  I still get an amazing array of excuses about this very simple story.

4.  Precedents

The Nazi officers told the world courts that they were only following orders when they killed the Jews.  This became know as the "NUREMBERG DEFENSE".  When I was in Iraq we had rules of war.  We just couldn't shoot anyone we wanted.  It is against this background that I compared the character of Moses, Joshua, David, and the rest of the Israel soldiers of the Bible.  Simply put I could not see me killing for an invisible being.  If I told my fellow soldiers or superiors that the invisible voice that told me to kill was the same one of the Bible I would be prosecuted faster for being insane as well as violating the rules of engagement.  I knew Yahweh would not come to my rescue then and would not do so now.  Even if my superiors told me to do something illegal or immoral I knew I would be held liable ultimately.  This is how I feel about Yahweh.  I would naturally rebel against evil orders.  This made the Old Testament very crude and barbaric to me.  It was the opposite of what I expected.  Andrea Yates proved that listening to invisible creatures is not going to work in the court of law.

5.  Understanding

I have heard the excuses of the believers on the matters noted above. They not only fail to change my mind but they enrage and sadden me.  If they understand the Holocaust then they understand how I feel.  If they can sympathize with the millions of indigenous peoples that were laid to waste then they can understand how I feel for the Canaanites.

I understand and I disagree.  When all else fails I will try to employ "Nathan's Trick".

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