July 7, 2010

Blessing or curse. Life or death. Republican or Democrat. Smart or stupid. Mayo or Miracle Whip. Penis or vagina.

The black and white rhetoric of the most vociferous religious entities in our culture is absolutely the No. 1 reason I passed on religion for the first 20 years of my life. I came to understand faith and spirituality by cautiously moving about their lucid parameters, but back away from both as soon as they fall into the fold of religion as defined by institution.

I am not alone. I’ve spoken with several friends and acquaintances about this Bible quest. Surprisingly (at least to me), all of them spent time in religious institutions when they were children and all of them have faith in a higher being. Interestingly, most of them are removed from and bothered by the emptying institutions hell bent on preaching archaic extremes.

I realize the squeaky wheel grabs the camera, particularly as it pertains to religion and politics, but the in-betweens — the Objectivist Party, the average Joe (Joe the Plumber excluded) — remain quiet. They have no interest in out-shouting the Billy Graham’s of the world. They’re not extremists. They don’t see in absolutes. They just want to do and be.

At the end of Deuteronomy, Moses recites the following:

“Today I am giving you a choice between good and evil, between life and death. If you obey the commands of the Lord your God, which I give you today if you love him, obey him, and keep all his laws, then you will prosper and become a nation of many people…

“But if you disobey and refuse to listen, and are led away to worship other gods, you will be destroyed …”

“I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make.”

One or the other. No middle. This is absurd. Parents often pretend to operate in absolutes, but how many really do it? What about the courts? Education? Relationships?

The Lord threatens termination of entire nations incapable or uninterested in choosing his life. By not choosing life (as defined by his terms), we choose death. So how the hell has any HUMAN population survived?

I’ve read and noted some “exceptions” to these many rules, but so far this text is a boomerang of extremes.

When does the loud extremist make room for a quiet, middle of the road being capable of measuring the Lord’s extremes and making human life not only possible, but enjoyable?


Stopping Point: Book of Judges

3 Responses to “Either-Or-Nothing”

  1. Nathan said

    Extremism is more memorable. Our brains tend to reject ambiguities. It’s a basic human shortcoming that hopefully we can at least start to take into account. That’s why I like Zen Buddhism – the teaching cannot be captured definitely in words, it is infinite. You can write a book about Zen, but there is no authoritative text that we’re all left to interpret.

    Really language in general is much less precise than we’d all like to believe. We round off the edges (for practical purposes), but every concept is imprecise.

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