Saturday, April 29, 2006

Does anybody care to explain?

Violence in the Bible. It bites.

Let me just say, I'm referring to apparently, demonstrably evil acts. Ones that seem to violate common morality as we understand it in the light of Christ, most current New Testament theology, and the ten commandments. Violence that, unless it were under the banner of, "God commanded it", would clearly be considered prohibited and immoral acts by most conscienced individuals. I hope that clears this up.

Personally, I can't figure it out. In fact, its so sticky that I still can't reconcile some of the contents of the Old Testament even after doing a theology degree at Bible College.

So, here is a snippet of a play that I have written. It's not only based on the Bible but it is as true and consistent to the text as I can manage without presenting a boring repeat.

Note: The language is modern, I don't think God said, "Whup-ass".

If people wish to tackle the problem of Biblical violence with me then comments, as long as you need, are welcome.

by Iain McMahon



MIDIAN - Moses' tent
Moses has just heard the vows of his Captains, the heads of the tribes of Israel.

YHWH: Moses.

Moses: Yes, Adonai?

YHWH: Go and tell your boys to lay the smack on the Midianites.

Moses: Yes, Sir!

Moses turns to leave.

YHWH: Oh, and Moses?

Moses: Yes, Lord?

YHWH: Open up the WHOLE can of whup-ass.

Moses: (gulps) Sure thing.

Moses strides out of his tent, his robes flapping in the late afternoon breeze. Before him on the plains stands a vast army. He raises his hand and all eyes fall on him.

Moses: Arm yourself for war! You go to execute the vengeance of our Lord! Go now to Midian, take one thousand soldiers from each of the twelve tribes! To war!

A great force arises, twelve thousand warriors brandishing their arms, they carry their holy vessels and trumpets and march to war on Midian. They descend upon the Midianites and slaughter every last male. The host of war spares no man even of noble birth; among the dead were the five kings of Midian. For their plunder they take both beasts of burden and people whom they enslave.

Moses goes to meet them where they made camp on a nearby plain.

Moses: (to his Captains) Did you kill everyone?

A Captain: Yes, Sir, every last man.

Moses: (angrily) Kill the boy children, too! And kill any women that has slept with a man; but you can keep the virgins for yourselves. Give some of all the slaves and animals to the priest, Eleazar, and some also to the Levites, and split the rest up among the tribes. They deserve to be rewarded.

A Captain: Yes, Sir.

The Tribal Leader turns to leave.

Moses: Oh, and Captain?

A Captain: Yes, Lord?

Moses: Bring all of the gold to me.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tradgedie Comique

[Topic: Current Events]


Okay, well there isn't really much "comique" about the situation between Iran and USA, oh... sorry, I mean The Free World, at the moment.

It's sad really. I don't know why Iran feels the need to flex their political muscles (read, jaws) and go on about their Uranium Enriching programme when they're only at about 4% if I recall correctly. They need 80% to make feasible nuclear weaponry. That's a far cry off it, and already there is tension building between USA and what should more correctly be called Iran's, "Dirty Uranian Becoming Slightly Less Dirty" Programme.

And of course, we can add that to what I heard on the radio this morning: apprarently Iran has stated that they will be arresting liberal women in their society. Any women seen with either skirts too short or dresses too tight will be arrested.

I understand the need for Iran to find their national 'personality', so to speak, and what better way to do that then react in a dipolar manner against their common foe: Perceived Western "Values". So yes, it isn't surprising. But it IS unfortunate, this kind of move will only make it easier for certain western media groups to demonise them further in the lead up to any potential invasions etc.

Petrol Prices--

Argh, I feel like they're crushing my fingers in a Christmas Nutcracker. My local price, at least for now, is something like $1.67 per litre for 91.

The Rising Costs of Petrol Pump Prices across 2006
That's not very good, I can tell you, and it's REALLY putting the burn on my already budget budget! And it's only set to keep going up, they say.

I have a question though. If our government has that massive billions-of-dollars surplus, can't we have a little subsidy at the petrol pump?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Immoral theology?

Question: When is a person considered to be moral?

Or, more specifically, what motivations are considered to be "moral" (versus amoral or immoral)?

What do you make of this:

Mark Twain (1967), contemplating the sources of morality, reckoned that " there are several good protections against temptations but the surest is cowardice" (p. 4). Obviously, fear of punishment does keep some people from yielding to temptations and doing harm - at least some of the time. But we do not ordinarily think of fear of punishment as a moral motive. On the contrary, the moral person resists temptation and treats others well out of "internal" motives, doing so even when he or she can get away with doing otherwise.

Now consider 'common' theology i.e. popular, person-on-the-street beliefs; Heaven, hell, judgement and the rest as it pertains to those who go about running the rat-race, doing their bit and having a few drinks with mates on the weekend.

Do you think that a large part of MANY people's motivation is according to their theology teaching them the fear of punishment? i.e. hell

Do you think that a large part of MANY people's motivation is according to their theology teaching them about self-gratification via rewards, albeit a "late payment"? i.e. heaven

Putting it another way, if I paid a mercenary to help an old lady across the road, would you consider that mercenary to be "good"? Is that person any better or worse than those who do the same deed with their eyes on the post-apocalyptic prize of eternal rewards?

Mercenaries of Heaven?

Equally, imagine that your Boss was a workplace bully. Imagine that I showed up with Giuseppe, Allesandro, and a few of their brothers and put the squeeze on your Boss. Would it be to his own credit that your Boss turned over a new leaf and announced you employee of the month?

'Friends' of The Family?

I'm moving closer to the conclusion that these theological conceptions of 'coercion', positive or negative, render our 'moral' responses/choices irrelevant - at best - and selfish at worst.

Comments welcome.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Longest Distance to Here

I've been going through interesting times lately.

I have been feeling better recently, whatever that means, but there are times when I feel that God - or at least the God that people have told me about - is further away from me at times.

Of course, after 3 years of Theology, I'm expressing something deeper than the ignorance of God's "immanence". Yes, God is all around us. Yes, we are 'In Christ'. Yes, "atonement" means "at-one-ment" with God.

I know.

But then again, were God not to be the same as that which people have educated me about, represented towards me and so forth, then all that might not quite be as I understand it anyway.

At the end of the day, I'm only going by somebody elses word that things are the way they are; not, to the most part, on my own personal experience.

So I decided I wanted to change that. Head knowledge is only good to a point, but without the accompanying 'power', as the Apostle Paul might just say, our words are pretty empty. The correlate to that, of course, says the same things about our beliefs (the words of our internal dialogue).

So: "more love, more power, more of You in my life". Sounds like a plan.

During one of my more contemplative stages, when I was feeling decidedly confused and generally misunderstood, I came across some interesting song lyrics.
The song is called, "Lay Me Down", and its from the album Oceans Away by Season Pass. You might remember the post I made about them ages ago. My friend Matt is in the band, but the other band member, Evan, wrote this particular song (I guess, he sings it).

So says the song,
I've spent all this time / listening for you / and all I can hear is my voice / or is it yours? / Surely you're not that far / if you're living in me
I couldn't be certain that Evan even wrote those lyrics coming from my own particular perspective, but I don't actually think it matters. Sometimes its nice to feel like you're not the only one thinking something at the time.

Cheers, Evan.