Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Of red lights, green lights, thumbs and big toes

One of the greatest obstacles to rational discourse on the subject of religion is that the word itself acts like a traffic light, signaling GREEN to folks who are attracted to the subject, RED to folks who are turned off by it, and YELLOW to the folks who are tolerant but not intrigued. The trouble is, there exist no natural intersections at which to direct oppositional traffic. All the traffic is moving in the same direction. We are all moving toward the only conclusion to life that we can all agree on, that is, death. And so the RED LIGHT folks and the GREEN LIGHT folks keep banging into each other as some stop and some go, while the YELLOW LIGHT folks mosey at a steady clip but eventually tip over into the RED or the GREEN.

People who love their community of faith cannot imagine those who despise the thought of "organized religion". People whose communities of faith are centered around non-religious commonality (eg., those who believe in The Academy, or those who believe in A Political Party) can't imagine those whose church is an extension of their family.

My daughter Emily agreed to study a passage from the Bible with me today even though she hates the Bible or so she says. I had a need to discuss some random passage with someone who doesn't believe it is revelation. We chose the opening text of the Book of Judges because Mike mentioned that it wasted some good opportunity for character development. I've probably not looked at the Book of Judges in 20 years or more.

In the passage, Judah and his men win a victory in battle against some Caananite king with a name like Albibezer. Albibezer gets his thumbs and big toes chopped off by Judah & Co. The now-thumbless king turns around and states that God has given him what he deserved, since prior to this he had entertained himself with a dozen conquered kings whose thumbs and big toes HE had lopped off who spent their time crawling around under his table looking for scraps of food.

I wonder if Jesus was thinking of this when he talked about plucking out your eye or cutting off your hand if either lead you into sin. And chopping off the body parts of enemies is still a custom among some denizens of the Near East.

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