Friday, February 5, 2016

Kids on the rocks

Get off that damn Bible, kid.  It’ll kill you.

If you’re a Babylonian, at any rate.  Or, I should imagine, anybody else who has pissed God off.  He’s got quite a temper.

Came across this image on Facebook this morning and I thought to myself, aw, isn’t that cute?   Maybe I ought to have a closer look.

Fascinating, the Bible is.  Started out as a history of the Hebrews, a tale told by Hebrew people writing with a heavy Hebrew slant, creating a God who loves them above all others.

Check out Isaiah 12, for example.  Beautiful inspiring words.  If you’re a Jew or a Christian who has assumed the Jewish tradition and are inclined to see America as some kind of “Zion on a hill,” Old Testament style, especially.

“…O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away and thou comfortedst me…”

Lovely, don’t you think?

But read on.  In the very next chapter, in which the writer turns to “the burden of Babylon,” we read:

“And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth…  Behold the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate…”

Now here’s the part that jumps off the page at me:

“…I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity…Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes... Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.”

Now if you’re going to create an imaginary friend who lives in the sky and loves you, do you have to make him out to be somebody who blames babies for what their parents do?  Even supposing that pissing off the Hebrews deserves a death sentence, I mean?

This child brain bashing is spoken of not only in Isaiah.  They actually sing about it!

Psalms 137, Verse 9 reads, in the King James Version:

“Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

The NET Bible puts this into modern language:

“How blessed will be the one who grabs your babies and smashes them on a rock.”

Wow.  Some serious stuff going on here.

Better not mess with Jehovah, looks like.

Glad I read my Bible.  I might have missed that.

Thanks Facebook.


jchai said...

LOL. So glad I have lived into my 70s without one of those manuals.

Alan McCornick said...

It’s not that the Bible is all about killing your enemies (it is much about that in the OT, but not all about that). It’s just that what it’s really about is indoctrinating your child into religion, not about raising a child to be a healthy, happy, moral being in the modern age. To imply that it is a manual for raising children is simply ridiculous.

Check out: , for example. There’s lots of good wisdom in there that non-religious people will agree with – never striking your child in anger, for example, and modeling with love, rather than with harsh discipline. Nevertheless, this site does focus on discipline and authority.

"Proverbs 22:15 says, Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him."

and runs counter to the belief most of us hold that a child, to be mentally healthy, needs to have a good self-image. Not too proud, but not unduly humble, either.

This site argues with this idea:

"They do not need help developing more self-esteem! They need encouragement to grow in humility and servanthood. Since as sinners, we’re all rebellious at heart, kids need to learn submission to proper authority as a part of godliness."

This is debatable. We may have raised a generation of coddled children with egos out of control. And more focused on rights than on responsibilities. But the traditional authoritarian nature of religion has done great harm in the past, and swinging the pendulum all the way back to “submission” and “servanthood” is a bad idea, it seems to me. I’m far less in favor of respect for authority and the squelching of rebelliousness than I am for being aware of how easy it is to be misled by authoritarians who do not have your best interest at heart. One needs critical skills to recognize the difference, and mostly one develops those skills by learning how to question and challenge authority when it hits you with notions that don’t ring true or are not substantiated.

You can model obedience, respect, kindness, cooperation, compassion and love for your children, I think, without turning them into submissive servants by nature. Religion of the right kind can help. But so many who use the Bible (or the Qur’an) take from it messages nobody in their right mind would want their children to pick up.

And none of this is obvious from reading a book filled with admonitions to smite one’s enemies, aided by angels with terrible swift swords. And to submit unconditionally to a creator whom you should fear and obey at the risk of burning in hell. The Bible is non-toxic only when you know what to throw out. Calling a history of people living in the iron age a manual for raising children in 2016 is a message directed at people who have trouble distinguishing between what they know to be true and what they want to be true.