First, a little mental housekeeping.
I just looked up 5 guys involved with this group of scholars/public speakers I’ve been following lately known collectively as the Intellectual Dark Web. It’s this group of men who meet publicly on stage and on each other’s podcasts and discuss all manner of ideas from spirituality to technology to sociology. One guy, Joe Rogan, who has one of the most successful podcasts in the short history of podcasts, isn’t exactly a “member” of the I.D.W., but he has had all of them on his podcast. Want to know what they all have common?
They all are about 5-10 years older than me with the exception of Dave Rubin who’s actually a year younger than me, which would kinda explain why he was trying to so hard to get Jordan Peterson to get hammered with him on his podcast The Rubin Report. Now, I am not comparing myself to any of these guys because I am a lowly janitor who would consider himself lucky as all get out if I had even 100 visitors to my blog in one day and if anyone more than my mother and her friends listened to my forthcoming podcast. The only reason I bring these guys up at all is if I take where I am in my life and my intentions of podcasting/blogging/YouTubing, I am right on schedule as far as the age at which I want to be taken seriously and my project to be known by anyone outside of my friends and loved ones.
So I feel pretty good about the fact that I’m just getting started with getting my brand out there (and I hate even saying “getting my brand out there” because I don’t have a “brand.” I just have myself, my experiences, a talent or two and a whole lot of mileage with the “trial by fire” model.) And this blog is the incubator for that brand, so let’s get to it.
I mentioned in my last post that I’m tackling The Bible with a mildly irreverent, genuinely inquisitive and irreverently genuine understanding of a text that has seen every translation and interpretation you can imagine. It’s like my own little book club in which the members discuss only one book and the members are the late Mike Royko, Dave Barry, the Buddha, George Carlin, Pope Innocent V and Dr. Phil and they are at a table discussing the moral and psychoanalytical ramifications of the Book of Sirach. Personally, I was shocked to even learn there was a Pope Innocent V and I certainly didn’t know there was four Pope Innocents before him and another five after him. I also didn’t know that Innocent I was the son of Pope Anastasius I. This fact alone is a noodle scratcher, but Wikipedia maintains that this is one of the few cases where a son succeeded his father as the Pope, which is bananas because they were popes. I grew up Catholic and I had no idea that popes weren’t forbidden to marry until 1123 A.D. I guess in the first thousand years or so, Catholics projected they should be spreading the message of Jesus to everyone they could and what better tactic to recruit more people to Catholicism than making some of those folks yourself?)
Naturally, the first book I read was the book of Genesis. It’s pretty commonly accepted that Moses wrote some or all of the first five books of the Bible (that’s Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy to you non-Bible scholars [Writing these posts about the Bible is such smart idea because if nothing else I can put Bible Scholar on my resume]) There’s a lot of passages in the volume I want to play around with but there’s one in particular that speaks, well, volumes about the plasticity of the concept of God.
In this passage, the talking snake that is commonly taken for Satan (although, I guess there could be some other supernatural being the snakes represents. I mean, I dabbled in some Greek mythology when I was an adolescent and Mars, the Roman god of war was a pretty ornery mammajamma and the Greek half-Giant Antaeus (https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-13-biggest-assholes-in-greek-mythology-1454132475) was a stone cold pyscho who literally made people’s skulls into hats, but for our purposes we’ll go with Satan) is rapping with Eve and tells her that God is really just a jealous twit and she should totally eat the apple of knowledge because “your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.”
Wait, what? So, if Eve eats the apple and talks Adam into having a bite or two, they will be like gods? I know I just referenced a couple old school deities in that last paragraph, but this is the Hebrew Old Testament. I would think that Moses would want to swing his readers away from even considering the existence of other deities. Imagine you’re Moses and your sitting with back against a rock wall and you’re thinking about how best to write the story of the creation of the world so people could read it and have at the very least some mythological explanation of how there are people in the first place (because let’s be honest, this is 4000 years ago. People were practically still monkeys. They’d believe anything anyone wrote down because, well, the vast majority of them couldn’t write themselves so the guy who wrote it down in the first place must be wicked smart. He could probably even do the trick where it looks like you pulled the top of your thumb off). In fact, I came across a page that goes into specific detail about all the references to gods other than God in the Old Testament. It was written by Gerald McDermott an author I knew nothing about prior to this post but I will most definitely be using on deep background for this Bible study because he has way more of a right to put his thoughts about theology out there than I do. He also has a lot of letters after his name which means he’s way smarter than me
But to my original point, the Hebrews had just left Egypt and all its gods like Ra the sun god and Mut the mother goddess (a rather unfortunate name for a mother goddess if you ask me) and the pharaohs who were themselves thought to be gods. Then you had the Greek gods like Zeus and Hera and Apollo creeping in from the north and who knows what other deities bouncing around the ancient world. And this cat Moses had the hutzpah to tell all the other Jews “Look, there’s only one God and he only talks to me and he told me to tell you about these people Adam and Eve who started humanity in this idyllic place a little north of here but they ate this apple that they weren’t supposed to eat and now the rest of us are hosed for eternity. You dig?”
So, in researching this the first post in my Bible study, I’ve learned things already. Moses not only acknowledged other gods, but also asserted that the Hebrew God was the only god and is if that weren’t enough, wrote four more books about how great he was and how great the nation of Israel was and would continue to be if they just made a regular practice of giving props to God (not gods,) cutting off part of their penises and not eating pork chops. It was, quite literally a Revelation.
There is one other passage later in the chapter that I think really gets down to brass tacks what kind of God (not god) we’re dealing with. After the whole apple/talking snake/holy-crap-we’re-both-naked fiasco, God grudgingly makes Adam and Eve some leather clothes like their members of an S & M cult and “expelled the man and settled him east of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.”
I really, really wish I knew anything about graphic design because just that image shows you how straight up cold-blooded the Hebrew God was. Not only did he send Adam and Eve east of Eden to till the soil for their food, but he put a team of half-pint winged thugs around the perimeter and a fiery revolving sword behind them to make 100% sure they can’t get back in.
Damn it feels good to be a Gangster.
Damn it feels good to be a Gangster.