Saturday, June 13, 2009

Read Your Bible

I have been wondering aloud with several friends the last day or two since Obama decided to go back on a promise he made to get rid of the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell requirement, which forces gays in the military to bring their sexuality in line with biblical principles, what the hell is with this guy?

Given half the chance (are you listening, Home Security?) I’d run right over to the White House and kick the man in the shins.

Wouldn’t want to do any more harm than that, but I’d like to kick him in the shins.

I’m back to where I was when Obama invited that turd Rick Warren to the inauguration ceremony. I’m trying real hard not to get pissed at Obama, the man who reaches across the aisle. We used to have The Decider. Now we have The Compromiser. In principle, it all sounds so noble, so wise. So necessary.

Trouble is, down at street level, there’s so much about compromising important principles that really stinks. The Republicans aren’t giving anything in return for what he’s giving them. They’re too busy picketing CBS to get rid of Letterman. They're not compromising their principles.

And I’m less and less sure every day bailing out those thieving bankers was a good idea. But I’m trying hard to stay on Obama's side. I remind myself every day of the week how much better off we are since the last guy went back to Texas.

But here we are again. First Rick Warren. Now this. What is it with you, Mr. President? Are you really convinced selling out to the religious right will get us anywhere we want to go? Why do you cave in so easily?

My niece pointed out to me that in talking about abortion recently Obama mentioned this is an issue a woman should talk over with her pastor. Pastor? Why not her acupuncturist? Who says we have to talk about things with (protestant, by the way) pastors? Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

I know, I know. Leave the guy alone. He’s struggling with health care. Robert Reich was on Bill Moyers Journal Friday night telling the world that after health care Obama needs to deal with the meltdown. The bankers are not cooperating. The lobbyists are back to business as usual. The country is a basket case, and we can’t afford to be distracted by things like homophobia in the culture. You can see where Obama is getting pressured and why he might want to screw decency, promise-keeping, civil rights and keep his eye on the donut.

OK. How about this. How about we join hands and ask the right to go along with Obama on fixing the health care system in the U.S.? In turn, we can do a little Bible study. How about that? Joseph and his coat of many colors saves the family. Daniel survives in the lion’s den. Jephthah keeps his promise. Great stuff, those Bible stories.

What say? Don't know that last one?

Open, please, to Judges 11:29.

This guy Jephthah goes off to war for Israel and splatters the brains of every man, woman and child among the Ammonites after “the Spirit of the Lord” comes upon him. Jephthah makes a deal with YHWH. Give me victory and I’ll kill the first thing that comes out the door for you when I get back home, he says. The Bible doesn’t get YHWH’s exact words in response, but it makes it clear YHWH’s spirit was with Jephthah.

Well if you know your Bible, you know the first thing out the door when Jephthah got home was his daughter and apple of his eye. Remember Isaac, whom YHWH told Abraham to kill? Well this time YHWH did not stay Jephthah’s hand.

There’s an interesting twist to the story. The daughter, whose name is never mentioned, curiously, seeing her father is all broken up about this obligation to kill her and turn her into a burnt offering, assures her father he has to do what he promised YHWH he would do. Only please, daddy, could I take some girlfriends up to the mountain to bewail my virginity with?

I’m not kidding. “…and she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had made.”

Don't stop there. It’s in the next chapter where the word shibboleth comes. You know, that story linguists love because it’s all about slaying your enemies because of bad pronunciation. And the chapter after that has this Nazarite fellow who can’t cut his hair if he wants to beat the crap out of the Palestinians for Israel. So much to learn, so much to understand.

Stephen Prothero has a book out called Religious Literacy He claims we owe it to ourselves to know the Bible as a way of joining forces to support a common culture. He's got a point.

I mean think of it. If you saw a bumper sticker with things like "My son played Jephthah in his school play. (We really miss our granddaughter.)" And "Get rid of your virginity now before your father gets home," would you catch the reference?

Let's get back to the Bible.

Compromise is always possible. You just have to know where to look.

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