Saturday, May 25, 2013

5 most common ways to missinterpret the Bible

Look, I insist on not getting all religious on you: each of you's got a choice to make, or not make or whatever. But I've been studying the Good Book a lot. A lot of people hold this book as an immediate solution to all of life's problems. In those people's homes, I would not be surprised to find a dusty, unread Bible in some basement somewhere.

Basically this book, or rather collection of books, is in a foreign language, from a foreign culture, from more than 1500 years ago. So  it's not like you can start reading at the start of a train commute and get it before it stops. Because frankly, there's a lot to get. In the spirit of this, here's the 5 most common ways the Word of God can fly right over your head.

5)Ignoring all the jewey parts

This might be the single most common mistake. I've seen people who up and up declare that the only parts of the Bible that concern them start in the New Testament with the birth of the prophesized Messiah, and his sacrificial death. They say all the other parts, the ones about not eating bats and keeping the Shabath holy are for the Hebrews.

First of all, wise-guy: What did you think Jesus taught? He was a Rabbi. Without the teachings of the Law, he'd have had nothing to teach. He explicitely explains that he did not come to undo the law. What is the law? Well, the Torah, and all it's commandments.

Basically adopting this mindset is like only watching the last episode of a series. How can you even know why stuff is important if you you don't even know what they're talking about?

4)Reading everything literally

This one is a big problem in America, where there's a big fuzz about evolution vs what's on the Bible. I mean, the Bible says that the Earth is only 6000 years old, right? Well, no, but for a lot of people it's inferred (it's not.)

But you know what I mean: How can God be wrong about where humans came from? The Bible says humans came from the earth, not from monkeys!

Well, basically my answer to that is that I wasn't there, so I obviously can't vouch for millions of years of monkey-fucking or thousands of years of miracles. What I do know is that, often time things stated in the Bible are not strictly meant to  reflect A UNIVERSAL TRUTH ABOUT THE NATURAL WORLD.

The Bible is not a  dry history book. Parts of it is poems. Part of it is songs. A lot of it is fables and allusions. You can see this in the way Jesus taught. He would talk about a man who gave his son his inheritance, and he squandered. He wasn't trying to establish that once an actual dude actually really for real did this. And you should not assume all parts of it actually went down, lest you get caught up in tales of Tree Monarchy.

The Bible uses a lot of phrasing. Many versions use the term "Uncover the nakedness" of a person. Uncovering the nakedness in this case is a phrase that means "cheat the person out  a partner", in the same way today we might say "pulling some bullshit" when there is no actual  bull feces being pulled. If you take it literally it says you can't look at Grandmas ass. It might seem funny, but what if she's dying and needs ass-to-mouth?

3)Ignoring the context

A lot of people say that the Bible justifies and glorifies genocide and war, because genocide and war happen in it. However clever people who say this  think they are, they clearly are ignoring one little fact: There wasn't no Geneva convention in the year 3000 BC.

Essentially we made the law that you can't kill a bunch of people and take their land relatively late. But in Biblical times, to call it something, this is how it was done, not JUST by the Hebrews, but by everyone. Or did you think guys like Alexander the Great and King Agamemnon got there by kissing babies?

The Historical parts of the Bible are not always meant to reflect what we'd call a "right action" or a "wrong action". Sometimes, it's just a bunch of stuff that happened.

One time a lady got raped. The guy who did it then turned to her brothers in an attempt to marry her. They convinced him to circumcise himself and all his crew for her hand in marriage. During that night and capitalizing on their dick-pains, the brothers of the raped lady killed all the guys. A biblical patriarch bemoaned the fact that his own people got him in trouble.  Who was right in this story? Yeah, didn't think so.

2) Taking opinions as cannon
I'm learning a lot at my church, and often you can learn just as much by what the other people don't know.We where discussing the part where it says that a Congregation with no gifts is dead and could not stand. He was discussing that, and came to the conclusion that perhaps that part was not true, for he knew many congregations of sucky ass-suckers that have subsisted for a long time, for example the Mita congregation.

More than 70 years ago there was a lady who claimed the Spirit of God resided in her more so than in other people. She was called Mita, and soon worship  truned from God to her. She claimed that she would die and then come back to life. But she only did half of that. Desperate to keep the faithful, they devised a new story: that the spirit of the lady, which inside it had the spirit of God, had resurrected indeed...inside all living member Aaron. Recently it's been found  Aaron had a baby and sort of hid it for forty years. The congregation remains.

So is the Bible wrong about that? Well, no, silly-bones. That part of the Bible happens to be A LETTER sent from one church to another. The author is clearly lecturing the people, and that part was not some all encompassing canon, but a mere opinion, meant to enforce particular values.

And if you say to me all the scripture is inspired by God, I'll tell you that Pain and Gain is "inspired by true events". Inspired isn't meant to mean it's all 100 percent true. Just that each part has a message to convey, in some way, at some point, to someone.

1)Assuming the message of a story is what you think it is

A lot of people have access to a pulpit and access to biblical teachings, and only  use one of those. Understanding what the Bible actually says takes time, and you can't waste time when you've got to warn the people about gay marriage. And that's how a lot of wrongful interpretations of what's in the Bible are born: when people who know nothing of the Bible base their interpretation of the Bible on that of other people who know nothing of the bible.

Take the story of Onan. It's become so synonymous with masturbation that it's  practically  it's own verb. I was told this story as a kid as a warning never to jerk off. And you know what, the story isn't about  that.

Basically God had said to this guy that he was gonna have a son. But when he was about to shoot his sperm into the lady, he pulled out, and then he threw it to the groooound! And God was angry. Because, again, context: The guy was basically denying God in his face. It's not that God gets angry if your semen can't find a home.

But the nice lady from the Church was a fuckin' prude. She was settled into the idea and just the "popular wisdom" of that verse was all she needed.

Another one is "The story of the adulterer woman", which has become a shorthand for " "Don't judge anything ever". And really,  if Big J.o.N. says "Don't Judge" then what else is there to say?

A lot. First of all, yes, the story is about Jesus showing the hypocrisy  of some religious people who are just as sinful as those they persecute. But no, it's not a barring on  judging actions, attitudes, situations, and character, as in, to analyze them based on their actual merit and arrive on a conclusion. You ARE supposed to do that. What you are NOT supposed to do is to clamp down on  and persecute others if you yourself have no moral high ground, lest you end up hurting the cause with your hypocrisy. Like, say, being a big anti-gay proponent who also is very gay, and often with kids.  Also, Jesus totally tells that lady to not sin anymore. NOT that she's right and that it's all cool. NOT THAT WE'RE ALL SPECIAL AND BEAUTIFUL AND DON'T FEEL LIKE A PLASTIC BAG.

Got it? Good.


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