On the way home tonight I stopped to get gasoline for the car. Waiting in line to pay ( the card reader on the pump wasn’t working) I noticed a gentleman standing in front of me with a T shirt containing these phrases: “Got a Gun, Got a Truck, and Got a Bible.” As he turned to pay the cashier the full import of the message was revealed. Got a Gun to shoot them with, Got a truck to run them over, and got a Bible in case nothing else works.
After an afternoon of navigating through Shelby Spong’s ” Biblical Literalism….” and his lament over the way in which the Bible has been used to justify every form of evil known to God and mammon this T shirt just fit right in. How awesome that we can take an ancient set of writings designed to reveal God in all his glory and turn it into a “weapon” of “mass destruction” The other night my cousin Helen posted a piece in which some evangelist/politician type quoted the Bible to say “homeosexuals should be killed”. An astute clergyperson writing the piece made mincemeat of that argument in revealing the extreme hypocrisy inherent in it and the underlying meaning of the quoted scripture. But the fact is those who will use the Bible to their own ends continue to do so with a rather solemn glee. So should I ever write a book about the Bible the title will be “The Elastic Bible” or “What Do You Want to Justify Today.”
As a culture we are very iconic and yet not. We set up facades whether in Facebook or through text messages and we convince ourselves that we are what we say we are in those mediums. To quote Newton Minnow ” The medium is the message” If I am superman on Facebook, I am superman, right? Well, no, actually you are still you and Herr Nietzsche would not ensconce you into supermandom based on a Facebook post. So, we create icons but fail to create in them the deep meanings that real icons contain. We are not creating windows through which to view God but rather windows to enhance our own self image.
Sporting a T shirt which puts the Bible in the same category of guns and trucks shows a lack of both mental and moral competence. Yes, the Bible has been used to justify,even the excommunication of Galileo, slavery and segregation but trucks and guns? Good Lord have mercy upon us.
Hopefully, we can as a people move beyond “got a Bible in case nothing else works” If not then terrorists, deranged mass murderers and alligators are the very least of our problems. Scripture cannot be used literally. I’m sorry but i am convinced that until we place the scriptures in their Jewish, liturgical context we will continue to be a people not of the book but rather of the book as we prefer it to be.
Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya
May there be abundant peace from Heaven
v’chayim aleinu v’al kol yis’ra’eil v’im’ru
and life upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
|(Mourners and Congregation:)