I’ve had a busy day that’s precluded writing, but I have been thinking — and what I’ve been thinking about is government coercion. Three things floated across my radar, all of which touch upon the topic.
I. Government Coercion and Religion
The first thing that got my goat was a much lauded video in which Dutch people were read a violent religious text that they were told came from the Koran. The big surprise, of course, was that the text came from the Bible.
“Hah!” said all of my Progressive friends who gleefully linked to that story. “All religions are equally violent and Christians are just hypocrites to call out the Koran for excessive violence.”
As far as I can tell, the only thing that little video shows is that, as Shakespeare rightly said, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”
Yes, there are some bizarre and weird passages in the Bible. Jonathan Kirsch has written a rather fascinating book, The Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible, that discusses many of these tales in the Old Testament. He posits that many of these tales, such as the one about God attempting to kill Moses until his wife, Zipporah, used a stone knife to circumcise their son. (Exodus 4:24–26.)
The standard interpretation is that circumcision is really, really important, but it’s definitely a short, wacky little interlude in the Exodus story. If I remember correctly Kirsch posits that it may be a fragment of an ancient tale far pre-dating the Jewish Bible that then somehow got intermingled with the rest of the oral history.