Friday night, the Muslims. Saturday, the Jews. Sunday, the Christians. Monday through Thursday, the rest of us. For how long has this religious fantasy gone on? More importantly, when will the ruse at last come to an end? What startles me is how long it has been going on among us humans. Well, that not as much as the fact that here we are, a dozen years into the 21st century, and the sham continues to move forward quite nicely for a whole cluster of our fellow citizens.
One doesn’t need to have studied anthropology to understand why our very early ancestors needed to ‘believe’ in beings greater than they. The natural world was a terribly frightening and dangerous place in which to live. That Garden of Eden myth was far from the real world in which Paleolithic and Neolithic people tried to survive. Iron Age people living in the Levant were continually fearful of being ‘smitten’ by another tribe wishing to conquer them and their land. Praying to the ‘right’ god perhaps gave these people some strength to endure. According to the Israelites, they had ‘him’ all to themselves.
That Jewish ‘god’ interestingly is the same ‘god’ to which millions of our fellow Americans citizens are praying to this morning in churches all across the land. The Iron Age god of The Levant. How curious. How enduring the myth. This god is referred to as Yahweh, aka YHWH. This god was a self-centered, aggressive war-god who instructed people to commit murder and whole-scale ethnic cleansing of other tribes of people wandering around The Levant. That god.
Or, it’s pure bologna, kosher of course. That’s the prospect- bologna, myth, epic folk tales, Midrashic literature. Made-up stuff like we are seeing on the right side of the political spectrum these days. Is it any wonder that the GOP is referred to as God’s Own Party?
Made-up stuff to enhance one’s resume or portfolio. Or an entire people’s history. Enter a man with an unusual name- Israel Finklestein. A Jew, as his name suggests, Finkelstein in an archaeologist who has come to the conclusion that much of the books of the Hebrew Bible are nothing more than Midrashic literature- fables that teach lessons but are not at all historically accurate. He is not popular among Hasidic Jews. Especially his declaration that the Israelites were simply Canaanites who developed into a distinct culture of their own. Gulp!
His book, The Bible Unearthed, finds very little archaeological evidence of most of the historic events stated in the Hebrew Bible. Isn’t that a load in the pants! Most of the stuff of the Israelites wandering around, being captured by the Egyptians, the Exodus, the great kings and warriors of Israel is pure bull. Cities and towns mentioned in that book have never been unearthed. Kings, epic battles, stunning victories are nothing but fables taught to enhance the character and prowess of the tribe.
Yet this weekend, June 2011, people in churches, synagogues and temples are praying to and worshiping and emulating this fanciful god and the associated fictitious characters who spoke for him. Not only that, but an entire major political party here in the United States is wedded to this Jewish Midrashic tale. Many are eagerly hoping to incorporate elements of this Neolithic fable into the laws of this republic. Imagine- Neolithic ideas as part of the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America.
Does your mind swim at this thought? It ought to. Yet, belief in this fanciful tale is a litmus test of the Republican Party of this nation. That thought ought to scare the Hell right out of us! And it does to me.