Aramink

Engaged with the World

Tag: bible

How Did You Arrive at Non-Belief?

Sometimes I am asked how I came to be atheist. The short answer is that I was born that way.

No one is born with a religious belief system – our parents and others have to tell us the stories and indoctrinate us with their religion. That’s why there are so many Hindus in India, so many Jews in Israel, so many Muslims in Arabia, and so many Christians in America. We are indoctrinated into the religion of our parents. No Buddhist kid surprises his Christian parents with his full-blown understanding of the sutras as soon as he can talk, just like no Christian preschooler tells his Hindu parents that the only way to heaven is to accept Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior. We all have to be taught religion.

I think some kids are born skeptical. I think I was, and I see those traits very strongly in my oldest and youngest nephews and in my oldest niece. My youngest niece and middle nephew are plenty smart, as is my son, but they don’t have the attitude of “Nuh-uh, you’ll have to prove that to me!” and the excitement inherent in “That’s so cool! How’d that happen?” that the other three do.

DA Presbyterian Church

Presbyterian Church, Des Arc, Arkansas (Source: Kevin Stewart)

My mom is Presbyterian and my dad was Catholic. There was no Catholic church in Des Arc, Arkansas, where I grew up. The Presbyterian Church had been founded by my mother’s ancestors when they first came to Prairie County in the 1800’s, so naturally, that’s where we were taken as kids. The ceiling was pressed tin, and I cannot begin to guess how many times I counted those decorative squares out of sheer boredom.

In Sunday school, we were taught all the usual stories. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in the Sunday school classroom coloring a picture of Daniel in the lion’s den and listening to the teacher explain that God had closed the mouths of the hungry lions so they wouldn’t eat Daniel. I remember thinking, “Nuh-uh. They just weren’t hungry, or there was some other reason.”

By that age (probably by about 6), I already knew the truth about Santa, and had ruined it for my sister and one of our friends. My sister and our friend Mischelle will say how mean I was – truthfully, I think I was just so delighted and excited to have my suspicions confirmed that I couldn’t wait to tell them. They were about 4 or 5 when I ruined Christmas for them forever, and neither one has ever, ever forgiven me.

When I was a little older, I realized that the weekly sermon was supposed to be based on the Bible readings that were part of each church service. I started opening the Bible and reading the verse along with the minister, then reading the passages that led up to it and beyond it. So many times I wanted to raise my hand and tell the minister that he was wrong – if he had read the verses that came just before or just after, he would realize how off-base he was. He was taking the verse out of context and building a brand new story around it, and assigning it meaning it didn’t have.

Then I started reading other parts of the Bible in church just so I didn’t have to listen to the inane ramblings from the pulpit. I came across Judges 19, and at that point I could not accept that there was anything good about these stories at all. A few years ago, I reinterpreted the atrocities of that chapter in a short story set in the modern era. It won a scary short story contest.

Concordant readings and the hymns were excruciating. Eventually, I decided I wouldn’t say or sing the words I thought were silly or that I didn’t agree with. I refused to say out loud that I was a worthless sinner (I didn’t think I was) or that I wanted divine intervention in anything (because I didn’t think it would happen). Then I realized that the whole thing was vapid and insipid. It was just another Santa Claus story.

Illustration by Dori Hartley

Illustration by Dori Hartley

When I was about 9 or 10, I threw a major hissy fit over church. It was a Sunday morning. We were ready to walk out the door for Sunday school and I had had enough. I remember screaming at my mom, telling her that the whole thing was stupid, that God wasn’t real, that God was really mean and horrible, and that going to church was pointless because praying was stupid and the words we were supposed to repeat every week were stupid and made no sense – hey, I was 9 or 10, so everything I didn’t like was “stupid,” right?

My Catholic dad stepped into the middle of my meltdown and suggested that Mom go ahead to church with my brother and sister. He said that he’d have me watch church on television while they were gone. After I calmed down, he started telling me about the Mover of the First Part. (It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized he was teaching me Aristotelian philosophy and basically regurgitating Thomas Aquinas’s apologetic Summa Theologica.) Of course, my question was, “Who made the Prime Mover, then?” Dad didn’t have an answer, but he said we had to watch church on TV since he had promised Mom.

Oral RobertsHe told me that there was a TV preacher named Oral Roberts who started every broadcast by saying, “Something GOOD is going to happen to you!” That’s who we would watch. Sure enough, he turned on Oral Roberts, and sure enough, those words came out of the preacher’s mouth the very first thing.   As soon as the words were said, Dad switched the channel over to a John Wayne movie.

John Wayne Maureen Ohara

Dad and I spent many Sundays watching John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and Henry Fonda while mom and my siblings were at church. I developed a great appreciation for Westerns (including the spaghetti variety), and was introduced to all-time favorites like the Cheyenne Social Club and Paint Your Wagon, World War II standards like Mister Roberts and Donovan’s Reef, and straight-up classics like The Quiet Man.

fonda-kelly-stewart-social-club I still had to go to church fairly regularly, but after that I always sat next to my dad, and we always found something to giggle about during the hymns and whisper about during the rest of the service. We made an effort to twist things to the absurd. Having a secret, fun co-conspirator made me feel better about having to go in the first place.

I don’t think Dad was atheist. He may have been agnostic, but I suspect he made Pascal’s Wager, because he always told us to get him a priest if we knew he was dying. Not a Presbyterian minister, even though he eventually joined the church and even became a deacon – he wanted a Catholic priest. As it turned out, my father died very suddenly, and there was no time to get a priest. Atheist me insisted that we call one, though, just to satisfy that need he had – because that’s what he had always said he wanted. It was a matter of respect.

When I was about 12, Mom insisted that I take Catechism classes – part of the training for joining the Presbyterian church, even though I insisted that there was no way I would do that. I dutifully memorized the Bible verses and the doctrinal responses. The Presbyterian Church in Des Arc had a tiny congregation, and I was the only student at that time. I spent more time questioning the sense of the verses and the responses to the doctrinal questions, asking “Why?”, and demanding answers to the unanswerable than anything else. The minister’s answers never satisfied me, mostly because things like “God’s ways are mysterious” and “We aren’t meant to know” are completely unsatisfactory answers to someone whose brain thrives on and revels in knowledge. When I was given an answer that rested on convoluted or circular reasoning, it drove me further away from belief, not closer. I never joined the church.

ASES Green Hall

Green Hall, All Saints Episcopal School, Vicksburg, MS

My sis and I were sent to an Episcopal boarding school for high school. During the course of the curriculum, and especially in our senior year, we had to take a class that entailed reading the Bible and being tested on it. I actually looked forward to having this class, because the priest who taught it, Father John Babcock, was very approachable, friendly, and related well with all of us kids.

Unfortunately, a different priest taught that class my senior year. He was more academic than Fr. Babcock, and had us write long, college-like essays on exams. For the midterm, he asked a question that started, “Why do you think…?” Silly me took the bait. I told him exactly what I thought about whatever the topic was. I got a C, which, if you know anything about perfectionist me, you will understand really upset me. When I went to talk with him about it, he told me that I was wrong, so he couldn’t give me a better grade. I was totally pissed – my opinion was only worth a C because it didn’t match his ridiculous opinion.

fearandtremblingAt Colgate, one of the first classes I took my freshman year was the Philosophy of Religion. Aristotle, Kant, Kierkegaard, Aquinas – this is the class where I read about the Prime Mover and remembered my dad’s explanation from a decade before. None of the explanations that any of the religious apologists offered were satisfactory. The reading selection in that class that hit me the hardest was Kierkegaard’s explanation of the Isaac story in Fear and Trembling. It seemed to me to be the stuff of tortured logic. If religion was the source of morality, then how could Isaac’s sacrifice be morally wrong but religiously right? There was no answer to this except the “leap of faith.” Nope – not only was that answer not good enough, it was ethically reprehensible.

If none of these religious stories and doctrines made sense to me, how could they make sense to other people? WHY did they make sense to other people? I decided to try to find out. I went to different religious services on campus, both Catholic and Protestant. I talked to a friend who went from Colgate to Harvard Divinity School to be a rabbi. (He told me a few years later that the rabbi thing didn’t work out, because anyone who pays attention in Divinity School ends up atheist. He’s a doctor now in Springfield, Massachusetts.) I spoke with a cousin who is a Presbyterian minister. I’ve spoken with friends who have strong faith.

When I ask people why they believe, they tend to get defensive instead of explaining their rationale. My asking them why they believe is not meant to be antagonistic – I really want to know, because to this day I don’t understand why normally rational, compassionate people would buy into this whole faith thing. “You’ve just got to believe,” they tell me. No. No, I do not.

My mother once remarked that because I went to Catholic and Episcopalian services, I must like the ceremonial flavor of the more ritualized  “high church” sects. I wasn’t going to church so I could get religion. I was going to try to figure out what other people got out of it. What I concluded was that the ritual seems to calm and comfort the people who attend these churches. Ritual is comforting. We know what to expect, we know what we are supposed to do. Ritual, like meditation, has a calming effect on the human psyche.

Rituals need a purpose, though, and I have never found purpose in a purely religious ritual. I see the point of the ritual in a wedding. I can see the point of ritual when it comes to memorial or funeral services. I see the point of other rituals that mark life transitions, like the naming of a baby or graduation or the passage to adulthood. I understand why human beings want these rituals to formalize life transitions. It doesn’t mean they are any less real if there is no ritual, but it does recognize the transition publicly, and we all want our major life changes to be recognized by others. Recognizing those life transitions is one of the main reasons I got ordained with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and filed my credentials with the Pulaski County Clerk. Those rituals need to be recognized regardless of religious persuasion or non-belief.

When I got married, I agreed to a church wedding. Mostly that was because a church wedding was important to my beloved mother-in-law, who has a very strong faith. She knew this was the only wedding either of her children was likely to have, and it needed to be right for her. Skip and I would have been perfectly happy – and just as married – to have a judge say the words and sign the certificate on our front porch, followed, of course, by a kegger for our law school buddies. Instead, we were married in a giant church and had a reception at a country club.

We had our child baptized for the same reason – not because I wanted to do it, but because it was important to his grandparents. We took him to church when he was about 5 or 6 because we thought he needed to have had that experience. In retrospect, that was an exercise we didn’t need to put him through. I enjoyed the young adult Sunday school class that we went to there, though, and a few of those classmates I still call friends.

I’ll never forget the Sunday the minister of that church decided to teach our class. We were reading something attributed to Paul, and I was challenging at least half of what the blessed apostle wrote.

“Good! It’s good to question your faith!” the minister said to me, and the entire room erupted into laughter. My Sunday school classmates all knew I was atheist, but evidently word had not filtered up to the pulpit.

“I’m not questioning my faith,” I answered. “I’m questioning yours.”

So, I never “arrived” at non-belief. Truthfully, I didn’t have to. I never found a reason to leave non-belief in the first place.

Patriotic Atheist American Heritage

Recently I posted some hate mail on Facebook that the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers received. This email said that atheists have no heritage in the United States, that we aren’t real patriots, and that we don’t have the courage to step up and play with those who are.

Carey Dove

 

Dear Carey Dove:

I’ve studied constitutional law, history, and my own genealogy. I know what my heritage is. Apparently, you don’t know me at all.

Carey Dove

So, let me give you a little introduction to me, my knowledge about the constitution, and whether or not I have any American heritage.

We’ll start with the constitutional lesson.

GeorgeMason-painting

George Mason (1725-1792), portrait by John Hesselius (1728-1778)

George Mason wrote the first bill of rights to be adopted in the Americas. His Virginia Declaration of Rights, written in the spring of 1776, influenced revolutions on two continents. The Declaration of Independence drew heavily from it. The Bill of Rights plagiarized it. The French Revolution’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen tracked it. Its final provision was to grant religious freedom to Virginians.

Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, by Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952). See the three men huddled off to the right, looking on disapprovingly as the Constitution is signed by the other delegates? They are George Mason, Elbridge Gerry, and Edmund Randolph.

George Mason was a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, when fifty-five men from twelve of the newly formed states argued about how to replace the unworkable Articles of Confederation. Mason dominated the discussions. Ultimately, he was one of three delegates who voted against it, primarily because it did not contain a bill of rights – there were no constitutional guarantees of personal liberty.

He would be vindicated four years later, when the bill of rights was adopted. The first of those rights was religious freedom.

BillOfRights-1024x673

So, now we have established that our constitution, and the history that preceded it, includes religious freedom. That means the freedom to dissent and to reject religion, because without the freedom to dissent and reject what we find to be wrong with religion, there can be no freedom in our practice of religion. And if we ultimately reject it all? That is the ultimate freedom.

So now I’ll embark on explaining the pedigree I have in this country.

A few years ago I was chosen to be on the Board of Regents that oversees the maintenance and operation of George Mason’s historic home in Virginia.

Gunston

Diorama of Gunston Hall

I was invited to sit on that board because of who my ancestors were. My European ancestors not only lived in colonial America, but they gave their time, talents, efforts, and money in public service to their colonies. They were politicians, military officers, doctors, judges, ministers, founders of schools, and founders of towns. They spoke out. They acted. They were patriots.

Who they were and what they did has shaped our country and its government. They shaped our states and our institutions. Their words and actions are this country’s heritage, and this country is their legacy.

On a very personal level, who they were and what they did has shaped who I am personally, and what I do. Their behavior, values, strengths, words, intelligence, and deeds are my heritage, and I am the culmination of their legacy.

anne21

Anne Marbury Hutchinson (1591-1643)

My favorite ancestor is my 11th great aunt, Anne Marbury Hutchinson. Anne Hutchinson was a well-liked and respected mother of 15 children. She was brilliant, charismatic, and a passionate intellectual. She was also the polestar of a controversy that nearly shattered the religious experiment that was the infant Massachusetts Bay Colony.

john-cotton1

John Cotton (1585-1652)

Anne and her husband Will came to America in 1634 with a Puritan minister named John Cotton, who would eventually become the most preeminent theologian in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Unlike the Puritan ministers already in Boston when he and the Hutchinsons arrived, John Cotton believed that a person had no control over his own salvation, but had to depend on God’s grace. This was Calvinist predestination in its purest sense, but it was contrary to what other Puritan ministers were teaching. They taught that the good works done by a person were the only ticket to salvation.

Boston 1634

Boston was a small town in 1634. Click to embiggen, and note that every single household is listed. Will & Anne Hutchinson and their large extended family stayed with friends and relatives while their own home was being built. The population of the entire Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Plantations was about 5,000 people. (Map from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection at the Boston Public Library)

The Hutchinsons were wealthy in England, but even wealthier in the colony. They built one of the largest homes in Boston. After church services, Anne Hutchinson would invite other women to gather in her home to discuss the sermons and the Bible. Anne’s meetings were very popular with the women of Boston, and soon men joined in.

Anne-Hutchinson-preaching howard pyle

Anne Hutchinson Preaching at her House in Boston (Howard Pyle, 1901, from the Library of Congress)

Like her mentor John Cotton, Anne emphasized the importance of a state of grace over good works. People liked what she had to say. They were focused on feeding their families and running their businesses; they didn’t have time for unlimited acts of charity. As the number of people at her meetings escalated, Anne’s philosophy quickly leaked back to the Puritan clergy. Boston was a very small town in 1634.

The ministers claimed that Anne’s “unauthorized” religious gatherings “might confuse the faithful.” They argued the theological point of predestination – good works versus inherent grace – among themselves, and ultimately Anne was charged with heresy.

John Cotton, however, was not.

anne hutchinson trial

Anne Hutchinson on Trial (Edward Austin Abbey 1901)

Anne was a woman, so was not authorized to preach.

Left to her own devices, Anne Hutchinson, the first female defendant in any trial in America, defended herself at her heresy trial, which was prosecuted by John Winthrop, her neighbor and the governor of the colony. Governor Winthrop was most displeased with Anne’s religious dissent, because his wife, Margaret, was very fond of attending the meetings in the Hutchinson home, and brought home with her ideas he found unbecoming in a woman.

And like the Reverend Dimmesdale in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, who was modeled after him, John Cotton essentially betrayed Anne to the powerful citizens who brought the charges against her. When he was called to testify, Cotton denied that he had incited any dissent in Anne, and smiled and shrugged, claiming he did not remember the substance of any of his conversations with her.

Atheist-A

It is no accident that this red A, the icon of the secular movement, evokes the scarlet letter Hester Prynne was required to wear in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel.

Upon hearing his repudiation, Anne Hutchinson did something she had been forbidden to do: she began to teach the men. While her teaching had been in private before, here, now, at her trial for heresy, she took off the gloves and came out punching. “If you please to give me leave, I shall give you the ground of what I know to be true.” Without waiting for permission, Anne continued speaking, explaining her own history, her dissatisfaction with the Church of England, her search for the truth she knew had to exist.

Governor Winthrop attempted to interrupt her. She ignored him and continued.

“God did discover unto me the unfaithfulness of the churches, and the danger of them, and that none of those ministers could preach the Lord aright.” Scripture fell from her lips as she brazened on, daring to teach, despite an exchange with Governor Winthrop earlier in her trial during which they had exchanged barbs about the ability of women to teach. (“What, now you would have me teach you what the Bible says?” she mockingly exclaimed to him.)

I don't know who painted this image of Anne and her persecutors. If someone else does, please notify me. I've found it in several places on the Internet,but never with attribution.

One of my favorite quotes from Anne is:
“How did Abraham know that it was God that bid him offer his son, being a breach of the sixth commandment?” Nevemind that, chronologically speaking, Abraham knew nothing about any commandments.

Governor John Winthrop was also, conveniently, one of the judges, so naturally Anne Hutchinson was convicted, and in November 1637, she was banished from Massachusetts.

Anne was 43 years old at the time of her trial. She was also pregnant, and during the trial she suffered a miscarriage. The superstitious Puritans allied against her saw the severely malformed fetus as proof that Anne had fallen from God’s grace.

Anne’s youngest sister was my 10th great-grandmother, Catherine Marbury Scott. Catherine and her husband, a shoemaker named Richard Scott, came to America on the Griffin with the Hutchinsons and John Cotton in 1634. They left Boston with Anne, first joining Roger Williams at a place he called Providence, in the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations secured by Williams as a separate colony. Williams had himself been banished from Boston in 1635, the year after the Hutchinsons and Scotts had arrived, for preaching that one did not need a a church in which to worship.

richard-scott-signature-on-providence-charter

Richard Scott’s signature on the Providence Compact that chartered the town

In Providence, the Scotts, along with many other of Anne’s followers from Boston, created a new community. Richard Scott wrote the Providence Compact, which was then signed by each of the 39 heads of household to come to that place. They became Baptists for a while, then Quakers. Then, in 1660, Catherine returned to Boston to protest the punishment of two young Quaker men. For her efforts she was stripped to the waist and flogged in public. Even though Boston had been unspeakably cruel to her sister 23 years before, Catherine did not hesitate to speak out when she saw the government do something wrong-headed. She was a worthy bearer of her sister Anne’s torch.

Anne herself was afraid to stay in Providence, especially after her husband’s death. Massachusetts had rattled its saber at the Rhode Island settlers, claiming it had the right to govern them, so she fled with her children to Long Island. There, in 1643, she and all but one of her children were murdered by natives. How long might she have lived had she not been run out of Boston? How much more might she have contributed to the ideas of women’s rights and freedom of conscience had she remained in Boston?

Far from being dour, rigid Puritans, Anne and Catherine were firebrands.

anne hutchinson

Statue of Anne Hutchinson and her youngest child, Susannah, at the Massachusetts State House. Susannah was the only survivor of the family’s massacre by natives at their New Netherlands home in what is now Pelham Bay Park, NY.

Anne Hutchinson is a key figure in the development of religious freedom in the U.S., and in the history of women in ministry. She challenged authority, and she didn’t back down. A monument to her at the Massachusetts State House calls her a “courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration.” She is easily the most famous – and infamous – Englishwoman in colonial American history.

Anne Hutchinson was a freethinker in the truest sense of the word: Dogmatic as she was in her own way, she seriously contemplated her religion, a deity, and the teachings of those who claimed to know, and then she drew conclusions for herself. The conclusion she reached was not the one that was favored in Boston in 1637. Nevertheless, she did not back down. She had the courage of her convictions, and today she is admired and even revered for her steadfastness.

I admire her enormously. Her courage in the face of adversity, her sustained intelligent wit, her sublime sarcasm – right to the face of the most powerful man in Massachusetts! This – this is a woman I can only hope to live up to as I exercise the courage of my own convictions.

600_183814952

Firebrand atheism: an in-home “revival,” with Sam Singleton, Atheist Evangelist, at my house in December 2012

When I speak up and speak out, when I hold meetings in my home, when I dissent from religion, when I give my time and my money and my talents to my community and to issues I care about, I am following the legacy of my heritage. I am doing exactly what my ancestors have done ever since they first came to this continent.

For the 392 years that we’ve been in America, it’s been my family’s tradition to speak up and speak out, and to act on our convictions.

And that, Carey Dove, is a very proud heritage, with full knowledge of where our religious freedoms came from, with full knowledge of when they did not exist here, and with full knowledge of what happens when dissent is not allowed – and why it most definitely and wholeheartedly is.

Heavenly Pizza Pies Wants Mass Murder of Icky Homofags

Heavenly Pizza Wants to Massacre Gays

So sayeth the sign with a picture of a pepperoni on the pizza. (Leviticus 11:7)

When it comes to picking cherries, Heavenly Pizza fills a whole pie.

Heavenly Pizza posted a reference to Leviticus after the Supreme Court decisions last week. Looking it up was an exercise in excess caution. Leviticus 20:13 says exactly what we predicted it would say:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

In other words, those LGBTQ abominations just ought to be killed, that’s all. End of story. God has spoken.

One would think that the authorities would frown upon a business prominently displaying a sign that advocates murder, but this is Searcy, Arkansas. Searcy is dominated by the Churches of Christ. It is home to Harding University, but instead of the tolerance and openness that one tends to expect from a college town, Harding’s worldview mimics that of the town: Harding is a Christian institution, and by Christian, it means Churches of Christ, not those sinful not-really-Christian Presbyterians and Catholics and such. The congregants of the Churches of Christ believe that the bible is the inspired and completely inerrant word of God, which means

  1. They haven’t read the book to see all the contradictions this “inerrant” work contains;
  2. They accept what their preachers tell them is dogma when they need to clear up perceived inconsistencies;
  3. They have read the book, but they have seriously deficient reading comprehension;
  4. They know nothing about the history of the copying and translation of the bible;
  5. They cherry-pick their bible, even though they say they don’t; or
  6. All of the above.

Aside from encouraging hate crimes, Heavenly Pizza has a few problems. Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21 all prohibit cooking cheese and meat together. Therefore, clearly, nothing says “I hate Jesus” like a steaming slice of pepperoni (a sausage made from a blend of pork and beef) served up with extra cheese (beef and cheese together? Not kosher, guys!) and helping of bigotry. If we’re going to abide by Old Testament law, we need to abide by all of it, because after all, this is the inerrant word of God.

Let’s worry about Heavenly Pizza’s sinfulness. Please assure me that their employees aren’t required to wear uniforms made of a cotton-polyester blend, nor that the restaurant’s owners allow anyone wearing such a sinful fabric to enter the place. Can anyone confirm whether Heavenly Pizza pays its employees’ wages daily, not weekly or bi-weekly like sinful employers might? I wonder how many times the cashiers at Heavenly Pizza have accidently given incorrect change, only to find the person they shortchanged to give them the right amount plus an extra 1/5 to make up for the error – and how many times, when an honest customer has told them they received too much change, the Heavenly Pizza employee extracted another 1/5 from him? God requires that, you know.

I hope Heavenly Pies doesn’t have a pizza with shrimp on their menu, because that would be a sin. I hope that when they say the blessing over their pizza, they aren’t sporting zits or bruises or rashes or cuts, they don’t wear glasses,and they aren’t limping, because if so, the blessing just won’t work. And I am shocked – shocked, I tell you! – that they have what they call a “Hog Zone” in their restaurant. While some might think that is a special place for fans of the Arkansas Razorbacks, you and I recognize it as a place to keep unclean animals from polluting the rest of the restaurant.

It is an abomination that Heavenly Pizza is open on Saturday; it’s against God’s law to be open for business that day.  According to their Facebook page, they are open on Sunday for lunch, too. I fear for their immortal souls, what with all the work they do on the various and sundry sabbaths.

My guess is that the only verse in the whole chapter in all of Leviticus the good Christians at Heavenly Pizza bother to remember is the one about gay-bashing. I’m so glad that they are all about promoting (in the words of Harding University) “an all-encompassing love for God and a corresponding love for people.”

Except for those homos. Because homos aren’t really people. And treating them like real people entitled to equal rights is one of Satan’s many schemes to lead us down the path of sorrow.

Come have a slice of pizza…..the extra toppings of bigotry and hatred are free!

Gay rights in Leviticus pic

Surely the good Christians at Heavenly Pizza aren’t hypocrites. Let’s examine Leviticus for possible problems, just to be sure. Now, a lot of Leviticus focuses on the exact rites and beasts and plants that are used to purify offerings and sinners, but there is a lot of good stuff in those 27 chapters that tells us how to live and all. I’m going to assume that all the good Christians at Heavenly Pizza obey each and every stricture of that particular book of the Bible, just like they do all the rest of the chapters. Because inerrant word of God.

I’m sure no one around there has ever told one of their friends, family members or colleagues that they don’t want to testify in court, despite knowing what happened in the case being litigated. That happens a lot, especially in divorce cases – people just don’t want to get involved. They don’t realize that refusing to go to court is a sin, and that to purge themselves of that sin they need to sacrifice a female sheep or goat according to Leviticus 5:6.

They have to do the same if they break any kind of promise, according to Leviticus 5:4. I wonder if there is anyone there at Heavenly Pizza who has not broken a promise, and I wonder how many sheep and goats have died for their sins.

All of the people there surely have a priest check their acne and boils for leprosy as directed by Leviticus 13, too. Don’t they?

What will you bet that some of those folks at Heavenly Pizza are hunters, or know hunters, and have eaten a rabbit or two? Leviticus 11:6 says that’s a sin. I bet they’ve chowed down on tasty crawfish, yummy oysters, and succulent lobster, not to mention some good southern fried catfish. They’re in deep trouble, according to Leviticus 11:9-12.  And if those folks have ever tried alligator or rattlesnake meat – delicacies in the rural south – they’re likewise doomed.

Have the women at Heavenly Pizza who have borne children  purified themselves after giving birth by sacrificing a lamb in accordance with Leviticus 12:6, and sacrificed two pigeons or turtledoves after every irregular menstruation pursuant to Leviticus 15:29? I hope so. They don’t want to be seen as cherry-picking what parts of the inerrant word of God they want to follow, after all.

I’m sure none of those godly people have ever read their horoscopes, because if they have they are being shunned by the other godly folks thereabouts, and whoever wrote those horoscopes has to be put to death immediately. Likewise, I hope none of them have ever had sex with a menstruating female, because that results in shunning, too. I hope they check the community carefully to see who’s having sex and who isn’t, who’s on her period and who isn’t, and that they keep the sexes strictly separate during that terribly unclean time.

No one at Heavenly Pies has ever had an extramarital affair, because their colleagues already would have put them to death pursuant to Leviticus 20:10, just like the gay people they want to kill. That verse is right before the one they cite to promote the massacre of gays, so you know they totally abide by it. Likewise, if any of the boys around those parts have had sexual relations with an animal, they are murdered immediately, too. I’m not saying any have, naturally, because I’m not aware of the community rising up to stone any cow-, chicken- or pig-fuckers.

Death comes to us all, and when the good, holy people at Heavenly Pies lose someone, I’m sure they immediately stop shaving, and no matter how the death of their loved one distresses them, I’m sure they don’t pull out their hair or scratch or cut themselves in their grief. Because that would be wrong. Likewise, I’m sure they don’t call a coroner or undertaker, because Leviticus 21:1-4 tells them they have to deal with the dead bodies themselves. They don’t tattoo anything on themselves, because Leviticus 19:28 strictly and expressly forbids it, and they treat immigrants just like anyone born and raised in Searcy, because the bible tells them to – why, I would imagine they completely ignore laws against hiring illegal immigrants because they know biblical law supersedes anything Congress tries to say.

I’m sure all the wives of the religious leaders who lead the flock at Heavenly Pizza were virgins when they got married, and that none of them were divorced or widowed, and that all of them are related to their husbands. God doesn’t like second marriages, because cooties or something, and priests have to keep it in the family. And if any of the daughters of these pastors ever slept around, surely her father burned her to death stat, just like Leviticus 21:9 tells him to do. There’s just no killin’ like an honor killin’. These pastors never go near a dead body, either. Funeral rites for the blessed Heavenly Pizza crew are conducted by their close families, not by their church or by a funeral home.

Heavenly Pizza Pies has its ardent supporters in Searcy, of course. Looky what one of Jesus’s peaceful, loving followers said:

heavenly pizza commentSo…much…fail.

First, “sodomites are waging a war of death and misery”. Sure, they are. For years the news has been full of hetero-bashing hate crimes and lynchings like the one committed by that awful Matthew Shepherd, discrimination against heteros in the workplace, denial of adoptions and foster parent qualifications to heterosexual parents, denial of spousal benefits to heterosexual couples, … what? No? I got that backwards? Oh. Then on to the next…

“This Holy Christian Nation.” Exactly! The First Amendment clearly established Christianity as the official religion of all the United States and its territories, and that was confirmed by Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli (ratified by both houses of congress unanimously and signed by Founding Father and 2nd President John Adams) and Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists…. what? No again? Backwards again? Damn. Okay, on to the next point.

“Self-hating baby killers will not stop…” Damn right they won’t. Not until every baby is dead, by golly! We hate babies! They are almost as icky as lesboqueers! Except… no. Those without the guilt imposed by religion don’t hate themselves, and no one kills babies except criminals. Furthermore, “self-hating baby killers” is so off-topic as to be ludicrous in this situation. So, another fail.

“Will not stop until their Atheist religion has ruined everything for everyone.” I can’t even pretend on this one. If atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color, an empty bowl makes a meal, and not collecting stamps is a hobby. By definition, atheism is the absence of religion. And it doesn’t ruin anything, because there is nothing to ruin. If the commenter wants to hang on to her delusional fairy tales, she can. She can believe in Santa all she wants to, and she can assume that when he doesn’t come down her chimney on Christmas morning it was because she was such an awful person. Because she is.

“They don’t want equality, they want everyone under their control.” Ouchies for the missed semicolon opportunity there. And if she wasn’t sure about the semi-colon, she should have used a period, because that misplaced comma hurts my feelings. And that’s not me wanting to control her; that’s just proper punctuation. The whole idea of “control” is making other people conform to what you want, not what they want. If you don’t want to get gay-married, honey, don’t get gay-married. But you shouldn’t have the right to control gay people’s happiness and basic human rights any more than they should have the right to control yours.

“It’s time we as a country impose God’s will on them…” See the paragraph above. She really doesn’t get it, does she?

“If the sodomites don’t like the punishment imposed in Leviticus 20:13, they certainly won’t like the heat from the flames of hell.” Sweetie, there is no hell. And even if there were, I’m betting you’d get to visit it, too, because of all the rules in Leviticus you’ve broken in your lifetime. Here – wipe your tears with this cotton-poly blend hanky. There’s a good girl. What? You weren’t a virgin when you got married? And you’ve been divorced? Burn, baby, burn!

I’m not even going to bother with the rest, except to say that I think law enforcement takes a rather dim view of making threats of death, mayhem, and torture to other people.

There’s just one thing that Heavenly Pizza Pies and its supporters are forgetting in their argument. The Supreme Court decision that Heavenly Pizza finds so objectionable was a decision about what the government should do in a country that prides itself on equality. Churches and their members are free to do something more strict, more stringent, as they please. They can be bigoted, discriminatory and hateful if they want to be. They are private organizations and they have a right to free speech, too. The government does not enjoy that privilege, however, because while a church can choose who to serve and who not to serve, a government has to be even-handed in its treatment of all of its citizens.

Today my friend Kevin, whose wit and wisdom I admire to the point of not even wanting to give him credit when I plagiarize him, summed it up beautifully. Kevin happens to be from Searcy. He also happens to be one of those loathsome homoqueers that Heavenly Pizza Pies wants to kill. He said:

There is church and there is state, two separate things.
The state is required to have equality. The church is not.
A church member’s opinion may reflect his church’s teachings.
As an American, you either stand for equality or you don’t.
Go ahead, say the words, “I do not believe all people are created equal.
I do not believe all have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Sounds pretty crappy, huh?

–Kevin 7/3/13

Heavenly Pizza Pies, you and your kind make the baby Jesus cry like you are burning him with your nasty cigarettes.

Stop it.

 

Mike Huckabee Displays Idiotic Christian Arrogance Again

Mike Huckabee was on the Daily Show again last night. He’s hawking his new book, but naturally he didn’t much talk about his book.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Mike Huckabee Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Mike Huckabee Extended Interview Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

“Why does anybody have to be automatically anything other than what they truly believe?” Huckabee asked Stewart in the first part of the interview (6:14). At that point, he was talking about letting black conservatives be conservative without calling them “pawns,” or worse. A good question, which begs the question put to him in the second segment of the interview: why do Christians who don’t believe what their fundamentalist preachers tell them to believe have to be consigned to the fires of hell?

Yes, the second segment of the interview is what’s really important.

Stewart started the second segment by asking, “When [conservatives] keep demonizing these groups, whether it be single women, black people, illegal immigrants, it makes it impossible to work with them as a collaboration. Why would you collaborate with evil people? And when you convince them that they’re evil, why work with them?”

Unfortunately, this question never got answered. Huckabee denied demonizing these people, and truthfully, he probably has not demonized most of them himself. His network and his party certainly have, though he won’t speak for either of those entities. Now, Huckabee has demonized the natures of gay people, but Stewart did not take him to task for that.

Instead, Stewart segued into an abbreviated version of the despicable two minute commercial Huckabee narrated for the Christian Right just before the election. You know the one.

In it, Huckabee quotes Psalm 127:1 and says that “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” He then calls certain things “not negotiable:”

  • The right to life from conception to natural death
  • Marriage should be reinforced, not be defined
  • It is an egregious violation of our cherished principle of religious liberty for the government to force the church to buy the kind of insurance that leads to the taking of innocent human life

Against a backdrop of flames, Rev. Huckabee goes on to say that “Your vote will be recorded for eternity.” He asks, “Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire?”

This commercial is so incredibly offensive on so many levels my stomach still churns with anger to watch it, and the election is over and done with.

Huckabee actually claimed that this commercial did not attempt to send the message that if Christians voted for the Democrats they would go to hell – unless they were biblically illiterate. I really cannot imagine how that wasn’t the message, since I don’t even believe in hell and that’s the clear message I got from it – and I’ve read and studied the Bible extensively. “Oh, no!” exclaims Huckabee. “If they know 1 Corinthians 10, they will know!” Then he claimed that 1 Corinthians 10 was about being tested in the fires of a forge, and coming out stronger or some such.

For the biblically illiterate, let me explain 1 Corinthians 10. There is not one word about forges or fire. It’s all about not worshipping false gods and not participating in idolatry. We all know that since there is only one true god, so there can’t be any other gods, no matter how true their own believers believe them to be, and no matter how false those idolaters believe the one true god to be. Frankly, the arrogance of the “one true god” thing just staggers me, especially when one considers that the adherents of the Abrahamic religions have no better proof of their god than the adherents of any other religion.

But let’s look at 1 Corinthians 10:29, which asks, “Why should my liberty be judged by someone else’s conscience?”

Why, indeed, Reverend Huckabee? Why should my freedom be judged by your conscience? You arrogant twit, I can cherry-pick Bible verses just as well as you can.

I think the Good Reverend Huckabee was actually referring to 1 Corinthians 3:13, which more or less says what Huckabee claimed this commercial meant to say, just without the forge part. Because that’s totally not in there. And the part about judgement day, and therefore hell, definitely is in that particular passage.

Again, this is what pisses me off about Christians. They want to spew their Bible at me, but then I have to correct them – even the supposedly learned ones – because they don’t get it right. If they want to beat me up with their scripture, they should at least know their stupid scripture.

Of course, maybe he really meant 1 Peter 1:7, or 2 Peter 3:7, or some other passage that refers to fire but not hell, even though most of the passages I find pretty much equate testing by fire with the Judgment Day and hell. So Huckabee’s protests that the reference to fire doesn’t also refer to Hell or Judgment hold about as much water as that colander I used to strain my spaghetti last night.

Let’s examine the the three points of that disgusting commercial.

The right to life from conception to natural death

Nowhere in the Bible does any religious authority, real or imagined, claim that life begins at the moment of conception. I’d cite verses where it says so, but there aren’t any.

Let’s face it: The Biblical God is not pro-life. He advocates and permits child murder, infanticide, child abuse, and, yes, abortion.  Fundamentalist Christians rely on such passages as “thou shall not kill” Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 (one of the commandments), and  If men strive and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no misfortune follow, he shall be surely punished according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.And if any misfortune follow, then thou shalt give life for life,eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” Exodus 21:22-24. Although the Exodus passage seems to be a favorite among the anti-choice crowd, I would point out that the harm mentioned in it is harm to the woman, not to the aborted or miscarried fetus.

God’s favored prophets prayed for abortions. Don’t believe me? Read Hosea 9:11-16. This same favored prophet also advocated ripping the fetuses out of the wombs of pregnant women in Hosea 13:16, something the God-favored King Menahem of the Israelites proudly did in 2 Kings 15:16, too. There’s even a ritual to induce an abortion in a faithless wife in Numbers 5:21 (presumably done instead of stoning her, although when stoning and when abortion is the proper course of action, the Bible doesn’t say).

So God is definitely not pro-life, at least for fetuses. But what about hastening death? Apparently the fundamentalist Christians also don’t like euthanasia, mercy-killing, or assisted suicide, either. They want people to suffer. This is where compassion gets thrown to the wind by these Christians. Suicide is tantamount to murder, in their eyes.

The Bible reports several suicides (Ahithophel; Saul and his armor-bearer; Samson; Zimri, who was king of Israel for only seven days; and Judas Iscariot) and men who want to be stricken dead (Moses, the prophet Elijah, and Jonah – twice) but nowhere in the Bible does it condemn them for that. The Bible also reports mercy killings, without reference to judgment, except in the case of the Amalekite who lied to David about killing Saul. Saul himself was not condemned for asking to die. Abimelech begged his armor-carrying servant to kill him in Judges 9:52-54, because he lost a battle and could not bear the indignity of his inevitable murder at the hands of (gasp!) women. There was no judgment attached to Abimelech’s death.

So, there does not seem to be a problem with euthanasia, either. Huckabee’s first point fails, on both counts.

Marriage should be reinforced, not be defined

This one is so easy it’s almost a no-brainer. I cannot grasp why these wackjob Christians think that the Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Jon Stewart jumped on this pretty fast, pointing out that the biblical definition of marriage is polygamy. Although Huckabee tried to say it isn’t, he cited no biblical authority for his position other than the Adam and Eve story. Lots of biblical marriages came after that one. Furthermore, it’s not real clear that Adam and Eve ever actually tied the knot. They sort of hooked up because of the dearth of others of their same species to choose from, and apparently shacked up, never going that extra step of committing to each other monogamously. They had no other options but bestiality.

So it stands to reason that yes, marriage could stand to be defined. But to say it’s biblical marriage really leaves the door wide open.

Because if you let your servant get married, and he leaves your employment, his wife and children are yours unless the servant agrees to stay and have his ear bored through with an awl. (Exodus 21:6) I’m not clear whether this means the servant’s earlobe gets pierced, or if his eardrum gets pierced. Either way, it’s pretty barbaric. But, that’s one definition of Biblical marriage.

Exodus 21:10 reminds men who take second wives that they can’t neglect the first one. Oops, Mr. Huckabee. Guess there’s a new definition of biblical marriage implied here.

Deuteronomy 22 is a great place to look for definitions of marriage. I like the one where the guy marries the woman and decides he doesn’t like her. If her father can’t then produce bloody sheets proving that she was a virgin at the time of the wedding, well, she gets stoned to death. What a sweet marriage that makes.

One of my favorite definitions of marriage is the rapist and his virgin victim. Yeah, Deuteronomy 22:28-30 is all about that.

Now, Paul is not real keen on marriage at all. Despite the fact that the species will disappear without it, sex is gross, and women are … well, Paul’s misogyny is another issue altogether. Paul thought everyone ought to have a spouse, though, if they really want sex, whether or not he could fathom why they’d want it. My guess is that Paul was so undesirable he never got laid, and therefore had no idea what he was missing.

And that doesn’t count all the various marriages in the Bible that involved multiple wives, concubines, and slaves. Heck, Abraham had a wife (Sarah), his wife’s slave (Hagar), another wife (Keturah), and an unknown number of secondary wives.

Then his grandson Jacob had two sister-wives (Rachel and Leah), and two servants of his wives (Zilpah and Bilhah).

Solomon had 700 wives and 300 secondary wives, in addition to the Queen of Sheba. That’s 1001, for those of you who aren’t good with math.

And the list goes on.

It is an egregious violation of our cherished principle of religious liberty for the government to force the church to buy the kind of insurance that leads to the taking of innocent human life.

Right.  Do I really have to explain this?

Most people in the United States who are lucky enough to have health insurance coverage have it because their employer provides it. If their employer did not provide it, health insurance would be prohibitively expensive. Therefore, people are generally forced to accept whatever health insurance is offered through work, unless they are wealthy enough to afford it on their own – which most people are not.

Limiting your employee’s health insurance options based on your own religious beliefs, whether or not your employee shares your religious beliefs, is totally not forcing your religion on them. (/Sarcasm)

Until there is a single-payer system, or until health insurance is decoupled from employment and made affordable, employers are in a position to unfairly force their religious beliefs on their employees.

It is an egregious violation of our cherished principle of religious liberty for anyone to limit our access to health care based on religious beliefs we do not hold. If the government permits this, the government is complicit in the establishment of religion.

Therefore…

Stewart nailed him on the thinly disguised guilt trip the Huckster attempted to foist on good believing Christians. The commercial was pro-life and homophobic, and it essentially told Christian voters, with the appropriate imagery of their religion of intimidation and threat, that if they were not also pro-life and homophobic, they would burn for all eternity. Sweet message, that.

Among the most disturbing things about these Christians who want to impose their Bible on the rest of us are:

  1. For a number of reasons, foremost among them its bizarre contradictions, we don’t believe their Bible to be reliable, and therefore object to basing our laws on it;
  2. Their Bible contravenes proven science;
  3. We do not agree that some of the crazy shit they think is good is actually, well, good;
  4. As a foundational document, their Bible is inconsistent, violent, bigoted, misogynistic, and homicidal, and none of those things are acceptable in modern society;
  5. If they cherry-pick only the “good parts” of the Bible to apply to modern life, we have to question why, if so much of it is dispensable, they consider it to be a legitimate authority;
  6. Why they think it is acceptable to force their dogma on people who do not accept their dogma.

Dissenting minorities and minorities representing different demographics will always need protection from the will of the majority. And right now the majority seem to be batshit Christians, who want to impose their will on the rest of us.

 

Why I Haunt Them

 

In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite, residing in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.  But his concubine became angry with him and she went away to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there some four months. Then her husband set out after her, to speak tenderly to her and bring her back. – Judges 19:1-3

“It’s Bobby Wayne!”

The shock at hearing my husband’s name was only slightly less than the shock of hearing it spoken with such pleasure by my father.  Exchanging a look with Mama, I moved to the kitchen window. The familiar F-150 was indeed in the driveway, and Daddy, who had been working on his old Camaro under the shade of the live oak, was stuffing a shop rag in his hip pocket and walking toward the truck with a grin on his face.

I couldn’t believe it.  Daddy knew why I had left.  The meth had led Bobby to more and more erratic behavior, and by the time I was able to get the money together to get back home I was practically unable to use my left arm any more.  I think Bobby had broken it at least twice, and the second time he didn’t let me go to the hospital for two weeks.  They said they’d have to break it again and do surgery, and he said he didn’t have the money to pay for it, so it never did heal right. Finally it seemed like the muscles just seemed to quit working in it.

But Daddy was greeting him like a long lost son, not the abuser of his only daughter.

Bobby stayed three days. By Monday morning, Daddy had loaded my things into the bed of the pickup and told me my place was with my husband. Mama didn’t argue about it any more after Daddy popped her in the mouth Saturday afternoon. I had no choice. Bobby had been making sweet promises about how good things were going to be. I thought that if things got bad I’d just walk out again.

We were on the outskirts of the city, about an hour and a half from home, when Bobby told me he had to go see a man there for business.  Since the only business Bobby ever did involved things like guns and drugs, I knew we weren’t likely to go to a good neighborhood.  I was right.

We were in an area that had clearly seen better days. “Urban blight” is the euphemism for it. Porches sagged without anyone standing on them.  Graffiti covered everything from the walls of the homes to the fire hydrants to the sidewalks, and I could understand none of the writing. No one ever taught me this other language or the script in which it was written.

Bobby parked on the street in front of what looked like a store front that had been converted to living quarters. Before getting out of the truck he reached under his seat and removed his pistol. He checked it to be sure it was loaded, then stuck it into his pants at the waist, covering it with his t-shirt. “Stay in the truck,” he said.

As I waited, tough looking men drove by.  I saw no women.  No children played outside. Finally I lay down on the seat and slept.

Bobby had been inside almost three hours when a group of men approached the truck. When they tapped on the window I sat up, confused for a moment. An ugly scar bisected the cheek of the tall man who demanded Bobby’s whereabouts through the slightly lowered window. Wordlessly, I pointed at the building. The tall man stomped off, his followers behind them. There were about ten of them.

They pounded on the door, and although they apparently talked with whomever was on the other side, I could hear nothing.  I saw the angry looks on the men’s faces, though.  I saw two unsheath knives. Another’s gun was poorly concealed in the waistband of his jeans. A man on the edge of that crowd leaned down and picked up a piece of pipe.

While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the city, a perverse lot, surrounded the house, and started pounding on the door. They said to the old man, the master of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have intercourse with him.” And the man, master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Since this man is my guest, do not do this vile thing. Here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do whatever you want to them; but against this man do not do such a vile thing.”  – Judges 19:22-24

The door opened then, and I saw an older man holding a young girl by the arm.  She couldn’t have been more than twelve or thirteen years old and she looked terrified. He shoved the child toward the crowd of men, but the tall one with the scar pushed her back inside.  There was more discussion.  Gesturing, and then loud voices told me that they wanted my husband, they wanted him now, and they wanted him dead.

Bobby had taken the keys with him when he went inside. I locked the doors of the truck and sat in the middle of the seat.  I was afraid, but I didn’t panic until I heard the thundering demand from the tall, scarred man: “If he won’t come out here and answer us like a man, he’s a pussy.  We want the pussy. If you don’t give us that pussy, we’ll take his other pussy!” He was pointing at the truck.  He was pointing at me.

The men surrounded the truck.  Terrified, I refused to open the doors.  The man with the pipe struck the window on the passenger side.  It took him several tries, but finally it shattered and he reached inside and unlocked the door.  They pulled me out of the truck.  At first I screamed my husband’s name. Then I simply screamed.

They more than raped me.

Every man in that crowd had his turn, and several of them had more than one turn in more than one place on my horrified body. I lost track of the number of times each took me, and the way each took me. My abdomen felt near to exploding, then was numb. Two at once, three at once, there were more than I could count. I knew I was bleeding because they pulled away from me drenched in my blood.

Apparently their access was not easy enough, because they pulled my legs apart to more easily get at me from front and back at the same time. My hips and thighs cracked audibly, and I knew I would not be walking again any time soon.

When they forced my mouth open to defile me there, too, I bit down. Mercifully I felt only the first few of their blows to my head.  After that, I lost consciousness.

As morning appeared the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light. In the morning her master got up, opened the doors of the house, and when he went out to go on his way there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. – Judges 19:26-27


“Get up. We are going.”

I lay on the pavement at the door to the house. I couldn’t answer.  My jaw was probably broken, and the teeth on the left side of my mouth were gone. Painfully I lifted my head slightly and dropped it again. I could only see out of my right eye, and Bobby looked blurry even out of it.

He reached down and yanked on my arm. I screamed wordlessly.  It was obviously broken and the shoulder was probably dislocated as well. My legs had no feeling in them.  I couldn’t walk.  Bobby dragged me whimpering to the truck and threw me in the passenger side, ignoring the fact that I was naked and the broken glass was ripping my skin to shreds.

I died on the way home.

When he had entered his house, he took a knife, and grasping his concubine he cut her into twelve pieces, limb by limb and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel.  – Judges 19:29

What I found to be humorous about the whole affair was that he packaged up the parts of my body and mailed them to the men in that crowd.  He also mailed a piece of me to the man in whose house he had hid.  He sent my head to my parents. Daddy opened the package and vomited. I laughed.

I haunt them all. The pieces of my flesh that were sent to each man allow me to stay with him.  The fact that their flesh is part of me because of that awful night allows me to stay as long as I wish. I have learned to give them boils, to call lice and fleas to their hairiest regions, to drench them in a stench so powerful none can stand near them, to afflict them with breath so fetid even their vicious dogs turn away from them. They don’t sleep at night, these twelve men who wronged me.  The man whose seed created me, the man whose seed claimed me as his wife, and the ten men whose seed defiled me against my will do not sleep because of the wrongs done to me.

The thirteenth man, the one whose seed never became a part of me, is haunted by his own daughter, whose reproachful eyes remind him of the woman he sacrificed, and remind him that he nearly sacrificed her.

She prays to the bit of finger she saved from the rotting flesh that was delivered to their door by an unsuspecting postman.  She prays to me to help her escape the madman she calls her father.

She will kill him soon.

I will help her.

Prostitutes or Virgins?

I am distressed to report that I have to reevaluate the whole Virgin thing.

I have recently been directed back to the series Blogging the Bible, and a rather upsetting thing was brought to my attention in the entry on the Book of Hosea. According to David Plotz, the author of the series, God’s first instruction to the prophet Hosea is to go forth and marry a prostitute.

WHAT? I got whiplash on that one. A whore? God told his prophet to marry a WHORE? You gotta be kidding me.

Then Plotz reminds me that there are lots of prostitutes in the Bible.Tons of them. Gobs. Plotz says, “There’s scarcely an unmarried woman in the Bible … who isn’t a prostitute, or treated like one! There’s Tamar, who turns a trick with her father-in-law Judah. The Moabite women, who whore themselves to the Israelites. The Midianite harlot who’s murdered by Phineas. Jacob’s daughter Dinah, whose loose behavior sparks mass slaughter. No wonder they call prostitution the oldest profession—it’s the only profession that biblical women seem to have.”

Crap.

Where are the Virgins? I thought the men of the Lands of the Bible were into Virgins! What’s the point of the Virgin Training School if we aren’t going to be trading camels for our Virgins? I thought I had an entrepreneurial opportunity here!

I mean, I guess I should have realized something was up when the last time I blogged about the Virgin Training School Neither Habib Aktar nor Hachbar Vinmook showed up. Habib has found his Virgins and evidently returned to Cleveland or wherever, and Hachbar must still be in the Land of Bigfoot and Unicorns. Neither of them show up to hang out with me any longer.

I’m desolate.

Lonely.

~~Sniffle~~

I have gotten all revirginated. I have studied the Pop-Up Kama Sutra and I have practiced the positions with my anatomically correct Virgin Barbie and Camel-Rider Ken dolls. I have danced the Dance of the Seven Veils until the silk chiffon has fallen to pieces from over-use. I have listened carefully to the critique of my assigned Navy SEALs. I have diligently practiced getting the 69th comment on the blogs of as many friends as possible (without making it look obvious, of course).

Where have I gone wrong?

Are you guys interested in buying my Virgins or not?

And where the heck are Hachbar and Habib?

Jeremiah and the Lustful She-Camel

When I was 12 years old, before my bar mitzvah, even, the God of my Fathers spoke to me telling me I was chosen to spread a warning about how unhappy he was with the behavior of the people of Judah. I was hesitant to be a prophet. The pay isn’t great and generally no one much listens to you until it’s too late. Then you’re forbidden by the deity from saying “I told you so,” which would be somewhat rewarding. In fact, I told him I was just a kid and I didn’t want to do it. He insisted. I refused to listen.

Boy, should I ever have listened. This is what happened.

“Jeremiah!” yelled my mother. “Have you finished your chores yet?” For some reason she sounded exasperated.

“All except for milking Susannah,” I replied. I always put off the camel milking for last. I knew it made Susannah more cranky, but even when she’s in a good mood a lactating camel is no barrel of monkeys.

This time it was Susannah from whom we got the milk. That was somewhat better than when the Lilith, our other female camel, was the target of the evening milking. Whenever I had to deal with Lilith I’d hide for extra hours to avoid her. I would always hope that my brother would be assigned to deal with her, or even one of the girls. Lilith was, I swear, possessed by demons.

They say there’s a lot in a name. Lilith was already named when my father bought her from Adam, who claimed to be a wandering Edenite. Riiiiight. Old Adam said he had a new camel and keeping up with two was just too much work in his wanderings. I think he had trouble finding fodder for them both. I could have told him that wandering in the desert was no way to feed a lactating camel, but I was just a kid and he wouldn’t have listened to me.

My mother was pleased because we had to rely on goat’s milk when Susannah wasn’t producing, and she thought the strength and endurance of a camel was preferable to that of a goat. She said that children raised on camel’s milk would be strong and able to withstand the life of a Bedouin better. Since we lived in a city, I found that somewhat difficult to reconcile, but I was told to honor my father and mother or suffer the wrath of a nasty, vindictive god, so I did. It didn’t make milking time any better, though.

Lilith is the name of the first demon mentioned in our holy book. She was a bitch, that Lilith. She didn’t want to be with her husband, interestingly enough also named Adam, and refused to return to the Garden of Eden when Adam’s god (also my family’s god), sent some angels after her. That pissed the god off, so he made her eat her own children or something. I forget exactly how the story goes, but I know that if any woman doesn’t want to be married to you, you might as well put her aside because she’ll make your life hell on earth otherwise. And bad things will happen to your kids.

I don’t think the camel Lilith wanted to be a member of our family. On this particular day I recall that I trudged grudgingly to the barn to milk Susannah and the first thing that happened was Lilith spat upon me. I hate camel spit. It’s slimy and it stinks. I wiped my neck and shoulder off and glared at Lilith. I swear that camel-bitch was laughing at me.

I brought the bucket and milking stool into Susannah’s stall and set myself up for a twenty-minute session. I had to keep Isaiah, Susannah’s new baby, away from me while I milked his mother, so I opened Lilith’s stall door to put him in with her for the time being.

Mistake.

Biiiig mistake.

As soon as the stall door was open Lilith pushed out to make a break for freedom. I cursed under my breath and headed after her. I grabbed a rope to attach to her halter as soon as I could catch her. She was out in the barn yard and the first thing she did was antagonize the billy goat. She was nosing around him like she might eat him alive, and he was butting her for all he was worth. Even with those sharp horns on his head, Lilith didn’t seem to care. She just kept tormenting him.

I finally managed to insinuate myself between Lilith and the fence and slip the rope through the loop hanging from her halter, but tug as I might she wasn’t coming with me.

“Jeremiah!” my mother yelled again. “I need that milk now!”

I didn’t answer. It was talking all my energy and breath to try to tug Lilith away from the goat. The last thing I wanted was to have to dress Lilith’s wounds if those nasty horns penetrated her skin. Lilith was oblivious to me, though. Of course, a twelve year old boy, and I was a small twelve year old boy, is no match for a full-grown she-bitch camel.

Herod, the king of the yardbirds, decided that was the prime moment to dive at my face. I threw up my arms to protect myself and Lilith took that opportunity to pull completely away from me and gallop to the other side of the barn yard. Slapping Herod and kicking his harem of pullets away from my path, I decided to go milk Susannah and leave Lilith for later, after I had taken my mother the milk.

Of course, when I got back to the barn Susannah had kicked over the stool and had one of her big nasty dung-covered feet in the milk bucket. Cursing again, I growled and took the milk bucket over to the well. The well was to one side of the barnyard. Unfortunately, it was the side of the barnyard where Lilith was placidly chewing her cud. She stared at me as I groused my way over toward the well, muttering under my breath about camel demons and buckets of shit. I glared at her for good measure. I could have sworn she was laughing at me the way she curled her lip. I hoped she wouldn’t spit on me again.

It was taking several minutes of rinsing and scrubbing to get the camel-foot shit stain off the inside bottom of the bucket. I had to a good job because if I didn’t, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach drinking the milk with my supper and Mama would want to know why, and when I told her she’d accuse me of trying to poison the little ones. I could lie and say I wasn’t feeling well, but then she’d just send me to bed early and I wouldn’t get to go play with my friends afterward, and she’d probably want to stuff me full of foul-tasting potions until I really did feel sick. Mothers.

So there I was, scrubbing away at the bucket, when Delilah, the barn cat, decided to chase a rat under my feet. Why Delilah chose that moment to become a mouser I will never know. Why the damn rat chose the safety of my feet I will surely never know. I hate rats. I yelped and jumped. I jumped in a direction intended to take me out of the path of the rat. That means I jumped closer to the well. Since I was already leaning up against the well, there wasn’t far for me to go. I sort of landed across the well.

I was unbalanced, half into the well which was pretty deep – we were in the desert after all and water doesn’t exactly grow on trees near the surface. I had a bucket in one hand and a rag in the other and had to drop one of them in order to hold on and not contaminate the well water with my corpse. Unfortunately, I couldn’t decide which to let go of in that split second, and I ended up with the bucket still in one hand and my rag-covered fist against the opposite side of the well. I couldn’t see the bottom. I looked, and it was nowhere in sight. At this point, if I dropped the bucket I’d be bringing milk to the supper table in my cupped hands. IF I could get out of the well intact, that is. And IF Mama would let me even darken the door of the house.

I did the only thing I could think to do. I started yelling for help. Of course, my head was pretty much down in the well so my yells weren’t doing me much good. They were sort of echoing and reverberating off the well and not going much of anyplace at all.

That is when Lilith decided to be helpful.

At least, I hope that’s what she was doing. Frankly, I doubt it, but I still, to this day, do not allow myself to dwell overly much on what her thought processes must have been. I’ll share with you my deepest fears, though.

I think my yells, echoing and reverberating as they were off the walls of that deep well, bouncing off the water at the bottom and bouncing their way of the walls back to the top, must have sounded like a male camel in must. You know, horny.

Lilith was drawn to me by those yells, I think, and started licking at my backside.

Now, it was during the hot months of summer, and I wasn’t exactly wearing a lot of clothing. I mean, I had ditched my normal Bedouin-style robe for the loincloth I wore while tending to dirty chores, especially those dirty chores that had me mucking out camel stalls and such. Robes drag in the dirt and get, well, dirty. And if there is camel shit for them to drag through, they’ll drag through that. Did I mention that camel shit really stinks? It stinks worse than camel spit, I’m here to tell you.

So I’m naked except for a loincloth, stretched across the opening of the well, my nearly bare ass poking out, and my yells making me sound like a bull camel ready for action. My voice was changing in those days and sometimes the higher-pitched yells came out as a lovely basso. Lilith, naturally, was curious. She started licking my backside, as I mentioned.

Did I mention that camel spit is sticky? She was bathing all my parts in sticky, stinky camel spit and of course, my reaction was to yell harder. Lilith’s reaction was to lick harder. I thought she was going to remove my parts entirely with her stinky, sticky camel spit and her really long, nasty camel tongue.

Have you ever tried to suck your manly parts completely inside your body while a camel is licking them? By the time Mama sent my little brother Solomon out to see what was taking me so long, I thought my parents were going to have to change my name to Jemima and hold a bat mitzvah for me the next year.

Solly poked his head in the well where I was yelling. “Hang on, Jerry,” he said. Right. Like I had much choice. Solly was eight, and realized he wasn’t strong enough to get me out of the well by himself. He got my dad.

My dad, Hilkiah, busied himself with scholarly pursuits for the most part and left the running of the barnyard to his kids and the hired help. Dad saw me there, spread-eagle over the well, that she-devil Lilith licking me between the legs for all she was worth, me yelling for all I was worth, and apparently he thought I was enjoying myself.

He found the rope I had dropped earlier when I was trying to catch Lilith and put her back in the barn and started whacking me with it. That had the fortunate side effect of making Lilith’s demon tongue stop slobbering my privates with stinky camel spit, but did nothing to help me get out of my precarious position over the well.

Fortunately our neighbor, Zedediah, happened by at that moment and helped Dad haul me out of the well. Both of them were laughing. I failed to see any of the humor and told them so. I was rewarded with another whack with the rope, but fortunately it wasn’t a very hard whack. Dad was laughing too much to haul back and hit me really hard. Solly was looking a me pretty wide-eyed.

I’m not sure who milked Susannah that night. I know it wasn’t me. I went into the house and Solly brought me bucket after bucket of water and I spent about two hours scrubbing camel spit off my manly parts. The next day they bred Lilith to Zedediah’s bull camel, Rocky. It seems that she was in heat.

A few days later I meditated on my experience. Sort of simultaneously I was looking for the deadliest insult I could muster for the sinning people of Judah, just to make sure they listened to me. Yes, I decided I really had no choice but to take up the staff of a Prophet of God. To be effective, I knew I had to get my point across in the most graphic way possible to let my people know that this shit they were doing was not going to be tolerated any longer.

Naturally, given my experience, I came up with the notion of using the words “Lustful She-Camel.” There is nothing worse. I included it in the first sermon I gave. It’s immortalized in Jeremiah 2:23-25.

Believe me, if God gets a Lustful She-Camel to fellate you, not only will you listen, you will do anything he asks just so it doesn’t happen again.

© 2017 Aramink

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: