A friend of mine and I once had a running joke about Christian (and I’ll include Messianic Judaism under the “C” word) entertainment being nothing but “talking donuts.” This, of course, stems from me being unfortunate enough to flip past TBN and catching the adventures of a talking donut who flapped his frosting while teaching kids about ethics and morality. It was lame but I sat transfixed, absolutely in awe of the train wreck in front of me. It was then that I came to the realization of “so, that’s why they make fun of us.”
It was horrible and stupid and much of Christian entertainment is the same. It’s unrealistic. It’s frustratingly G-rated and family-friendly to the point that most normal human beings simply can’t relate. CCM bands have to find fifteen different ways to sing “I Love Jesus.” Christian movies, books, and comics end up as cheap, watered-down replicas of real world entertainment. If a Christian band is actually talented and unique enough to break through, they flee CCM like Lot fleeing Sodom. (Thanks for playing, Evanescence and POD!) And this pisses me off for one primary reason:
The Bible is so BADASS.
I don’t mean that ironically and I don’t mean that to be crude or disrespectful. For some reason, American culture has insisted on the feminization of Christianity (one of the reasons Islam spreads so quickly in the prisons) and I don’t understand it. Testosterone drips from its pages. We sing cute little Sunday schools about “Father Abraham,” but Abraham led troops into battle and fought fiercely against the kings of the land. If you stuck Abraham, Moses, David, Samson, and Joshua in a movie together it would be a prequel to The Expendables and the death toll would be immense. Jacob WRESTLED GOD and GOD CRIPPLED HIM in response. Most of the heroes of the Bible are real bastards who, through trials and tribulations, learn to be good people for God’s purposes. Once we get to Jesus and He tells us “no greater love is there than this, that a man would give his life for his friends,” it’s not something cutesy and sweet to put on Grandma’s sweatshirt. It’s epic and manly … like the end of FIRST BLOOD or BRAVEHEART. It’s okay for a man to cry … but only after he’s slaughtered thousands of people with a donkey’s jawbone.
And I’m making light, of course … it’s my style … but the point of the matter is truth. If the Bible was made into a film and kept true the source, it would be NC-17. A lot of that is illustrated in this particular Scripture portion. I really have no idea why we have insisted on taming the Scriptures. We’ve chopped it down into little cute stories that suit our purposes and then we ignore the rest of it. That’s my job … to present things in a way you may not have considered previously.
St. Augustine had the theory that creation had been broken down into the “Six Ages Of The World.” I find it curious that we’ve been through two and a half ages before the twentieth chapter of Genesis. This again affirms my suspicions that the Scriptures do not attempt to give an exhaustive account of human history. Instead, it hits the high points and tells us what we need to know. This is why we get three chapters on the creation of our universe and 21,849 chapters on how to build a tabernacle.
There’s not a whole lot I can add to the account of Noah and the flood. Everyone knows the story. We get some basic genealogy type stuff until we finally arrive at the story of Abram and Sarai. Each time I read this, I’m shocked at just how much of a dork Abram sounds like. Sending his wife off to have sex with Pharoah to save his own skin? Letting Lot have the Jordan Valley? Whining to God when He decides to turn Sodom and Gomorrah into smoldering heaps? Not cool. He does redeem himself by leading his trained men into battle against the kings of the land to rescue Lot but it’s too little too late. Later in life, he gets rebranded “Abraham” and starts to get his groove on.
Lot, on the other hand, sounds worse. First of all, he gets kidnapped. That’s weak. His house is attacked by a giant mob of horny homosexual assailants (who, I can only imagine, looked fabulous) and he offers his daughters to be raped as an alternative (boy, he was barking up the wrong tree). His wife turns into (kosher?) salt. His daughters get him drunk and rape him. Lot was made of fail.
But God promised to bless Abraham and make his descendents as numerous as “the stars in the sky.” And He did. From Abraham’s line comes the lawgiver Moses, the great king David, Solomon the wise, and the Messiah, Himself. The moral of the story is that, regardless of what our human weaknesses and faults are, God is more than capable of doing extraordinary things through us. All the world’s a stage and He is both the playwriter and director. We’re just His actors. Sometimes, the play is a comedy, sometimes a tragedy, but it’s always an adventure.
So, with this being my very first post I feel compelled to give a short introduction for the five of you who may read it. Daniel Emery Taylor: actor, writer, paranormal investigator, loving husband, doting stepfather, dirt road alum of Auburn University, dog enthusiast, pimp. I’m also a follower of Messianic Judaism, a Calvinist, and probably one of the least pious Bible commentators you’ll ever read. As much as I love and adore my Messiah and as strong as my faith in Him is, I am woefully aware of just how much I fuck up on a daily basis. I know that, apart from Him, I can accomplish no good and my entire existence is vanity. This knowledge amplifies just how in awe of Him I am. He loves me (and you!) in spite of the flaws.
And if it bothers you that I used “fuck” in the first paragraph I’m probably not the ‘blog writer for you. I believe in full disclosure with God. Too many people walk the earth wearing a proverbial mask, thinking they can hide the ugliness from their Maker. He knows me. He knows my ugly thoughts. I’m not putting on a show. This is real.
One last tidbit before I get into the meat of my discussion: in recent years, one of my favorite verses has become Luke 18:13-14. “… the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Chisel that junk on my tombstone. I live by His mercy and grace.
And now … why I’m here …
I enjoy reading different translations of the Bible because the different wording often brings to light things I may have overlooked previously. I’ve started a new one (the Holman Christian Standard Bible) so I figured this would be a great time to record some thoughts on the text as I read through. This isn’t going to cover every detail. Hell, I probably won’t even hit all of the major stuff. I just get funny thoughts … often little philosophical things … and thought that others may get something out of them. Ready?
GENESIS 1 – 5
“IN THE BEGINNING …” Wow, those are some mightily epic words. It’s a shame they’re really vague. In the beginning of what? God has no beginning. In our beginning? We know that angels (and probably demons) pre-date “Creation,” so the beginning begins to sound like no beginning at all. Is it the beginning of time? The beginning of the universe? The beginning of the earth?
I maintain that the Scriptures are absolutely true and without error in their original forms. I also maintain that our interpretations are probably way off in some instances. The six-day creation is something that so many evangelicals dig their heels in on, but I think it becomes an issue of unnecessary contention. I believe in a literal six-day creation because I have no reason to believe otherwise. (I’m a proponent of the idea that God created a mature earth, rendering much of our dating processes irrelevant. That’s a whole different issue, though.) However, I remain open-minded enough to understand that I am not omnipotent and could be wrong. The first three chapters of Genesis are poetic enough to be open to interpretation. The fact that they may not be literal does not mean they are not correct.
The Bible does not attempt to be an exhaustive history of the world. The point is how to reconcile ourselves to God. The rest of it is just background. It’s not a science book. It’s not a history book. It’s not a math book. Yes, it contains elements of many of these subjects but that isn’t its aim. The point is to show us how much God loves us and how we can please Him. People get hung up on the trivial issues. Adam and Eve were the first people … but were they the only people? Was Cain’s wife his sister? Are Adam and Eve only the first people in reference to the Hebrews? I don’t know and God didn’t feel the need to make it any more clear than that. He told us stuff on a “need to know” basis. Otherwise, if He told us everything, the Bible would weigh eighty-three pounds and nobody would ever read it. And the stuff He left out doesn’t matter. If they found a fully formed fleshy monkey man, a missing link, frozen in a block of ice it would do absolutely nothing to my faith. I would just accept that my interpretation was wrong and move on. It wouldn’t change a damn thing.
Of course, I don’t think they’ll ever find that fleshy monkey man.
So, to sum up the first five chapters of Genesis: God created everything. He then put humans here. He gave us one simple commandment and we were too stupid to listen to Him.
Most everyone knows the story of the Garden of Eden, but I wanted to point out one issue of interest: the Bible never says the serpent in the Garden was Satan. There is absolutely nothing in the text that implies that he is anything other than a talking snake. I’ll wait here while you go double-check me.
I won’t go into detail, because I have another project detailing many of the misconceptions we have about the Accuser, but one thing really strikes me about this. Earlier translations use the wording that Eve was “beguiled.” That carries a connotation of some magical influence. For thousands of years, we’ve tried using “the Devil made me do it” as a viable excuse. That may have worked for Flip Wilson but it won’t work for you. The Devil didn’t make you do a damn thing. You did. Eve wasn’t glamored by the mighty lord of the underworld. She was tricked by a talking snake. That rightfully makes her sound like a dumbass.
And so it is with humanity. We constantly do the wrong thing, the dangerous thing, and the futile thing against all good common sense, against good advice, and against historical outcome. We are too stupid, arrogant, and hard-headed. We don’t need the Devil to possess us or blind us with the dark arts. We screw up just fine all on our own. The human heart is wicked, depraved, and selfish above all things.