The Book Of Amendments is quite possibly the most popular book in the bible. Of course, it’s not in the bible in the literal sense. The Book contains sayings that perhaps people think are in scripture, or they act as if there is some scriptural basis for what they say. Now, I know that there is an admonition in the Book Of Revelation against changing or adding to scripture, but that that doesn’t stop people from adding bits of folk wisdom or twists and contortions in interpreting the Word of God. In so doing, we ascribe to God our own biases; after all, we create God in our own image. If I got to edit the bible, I think I’d get rid of that piece-of-shit Book Of Revelation. “But Rufus, that’s apostasy!” you protest. Yeah, sure. But I can live with that. Who’s to say that some Pope in the Dark Ages knew what the hell he was doing when he decided to include it? That decision seems subjective and arbitrary to me. Lord knows he was human. Anyway, what’s a little heresy between friends?
Mainly, many believers believe that there are uniformly embraced official Christian positions on social issues of the day that are anything but uniformly embraced. Prominently, issues regarding sexual behavior come to mind. Sorry, but Christians are not unified on much besides that Jesus is divine. If that.
I would like contributions to this book. Please send submissions to my site-related email account, email@example.com. If you want attribution, I am more than happy to oblige. In fact, I would prefer to do so (unless I really did think of it first). But if you wish to remain anonymous, I will still indicate when items are submitted rather than products of my own ‘intellectual processes.’ Perhaps if it gets voluminous enough, I’ll edit it into Chapter and Verse form.
So without further ado, The Book Of Amendments:
- Prayer changes things. — I used to drive past a sign along a freeway that said this, and my thought was, “Like what, for example?” Now, before I launch into an anti-prayer tirade, I’ll say that I do intend sometime to write more extensively on the subject, and that my stance has softened. I’m less cynical than I once was.
Indeed, there are several passages regarding prayer in the bible; how to pray, when to pray, etc., but I remain a prayer skeptic. I do not believe in an intervening God that answers prayers based on criteria found in scripture (or not, as the case may be). I don’t, for example, think that God is up there counting, “One, two, three… Yep! There’s the threshold. That prayer is getting answered!” Oh, how I wish it worked that way, but it doesn’t. It just doesn’t, dammit!
Neither do I believe in an aloof God that doesn’t listen or care. I believe that God does care. But for reasons that are beyond our comprehension, bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, and some things happen that have no relationship to our lives at all. I do understand that some things that destroy and kill are vital to life. We would not have land without seismic activity. No one prays for earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, hurricanes, fires, floods, etc., but they all serve their purposes in nature.
But if God counted the Prayer Warriors (whatever the hell that means) and bestowed Shazzam! Power to His faithful followers, my daughter would be alive today. Her brain cancer would have been cured or she never would have gotten it in the first place. Or I would have gotten it in her stead. (That was my prayer; give it to me, not her.) However, her health deteriorated incrementally over a period of five years until she finally lapsed into a coma and died. It was not for a shortage of prayer on her behalf. Many, many people prayed for her. Nor was there a dearth of sincerity of the prayers. She was beloved. She was atypically young for her type of cancer. Neither did she lack for medical interventions: Two surgeries, proton radiation, several kinds of chemotherapy – oral and infused — physical therapy, and several other medications. So we did our part, too, whatever our resources allowed.
Prayer changes things? All right, well then, we did that.
- God never gives you more than you can handle. — Seriously? Hey, my daughter had brain cancer and died. So she ‘handled’ her affliction by enduring five years of deterioration and dying. Okay, so maybe there’s the technicality that God did not give the cancer to her. In that case, the saying is totally worthless. If you’re going to let God off the hook for horrible problems that come into your life, then maybe they are too much for you to handle. Which way do you want to have it? You can’t have both.
And how did her parents (and her brother) ‘handle’ her illness and death, you ask? Not too well, in my estimation. More than two years later, our grief is still strong and our ability to function has been affected.
How do people ‘handle’ homelessness? Terminal diseases? Debilitating mental illness? Violence? Disaster? God never gives you more than you can handle? This trite saying isn’t very well thought through.
- The Lord helps those who help themselves. — It seems to me that scripture advises that God wants us to help others. Jesus is especially emphatic on this point. I’m scanning through my mental files and memory bank to seek an example of when God suggests ‘help yourself’ is the way to go. I’m drawing a blank.
The Firesign Theatre offered a variation on the theme: “The Lord helps those who take a big helping for themselves.” Of course this is also scripturally unsound, but that’s the point.
- It’s ‘Adam and Eve,’ not ‘Adam and Steve.’ — Ha-ha! Isn’t that clever! That’s the first line of defense against those who think that homosexual queer fairies of the gay persuasion should have equal protection under the law. Who could even think that same-sex couples are anything like people who are married to one person of the opposite sex at a time?
Yes, there are passages in the bible that condemn homosexual acts. The Apostle Paul (nee Saul) in the New Testament was so judgmental that I suspect he was closeted gay. You know, like former Senator Larry Craig (R-ID). Other passages are found in the codes of Leviticus, where we are also admonished not to shave the sides of our faces or the tops of our heads, work on the Sabbath, get tattoos, touch a woman during her menstrual period, and a host of other transgressions we seldom take seriously today. For some, we must slaughter a goat or sheep without flaw at the east end of the altar at dusk to atone. For others, such as homosexual acts or working on the Sabbath, a stoning is in order. Up for that?
All the passages in the Bible that do mention homosexuality are specific to male homosexuality. You’d be hard pressed to find any condemnation of lesbianism. Look all you want. You’ll only find it in the Book Of Amendments, if there… I mean here. My hypothesis is that God has a special place in His heart for lesbians. He just loves that lady-on-lady lovin’! And it’s apparently healthy, too. Remember when the bible-thumpers were shouting that the HIV/AIDS epidemic was God’s punishment for homosexuality? Well, lesbians were and are the lowest-risk group for sexually-transmitted diseases in the population. So lesbians are God’s special people. It stands to reason.
Curiously, you won’t find Jesus making any mention of homosexuality. Not a word. But you just know – don’t you? – that Jesus is a family-values kind of guy. Okay, so he traveled and hung around with a bunch of guys, but if He walked among us today, I’d bet He’d have one wife (at a time) and kids and a sensible SUV, and he’d condemn gays to Hell right and left.
But wait a gol-darned, ding-danged, rootin’-tootin’ minute! God does so love Steve. God created Steve and all the other non-heteros. Steve is part of God’s creation. Steve is a Child of God!
If God hates homosexuals, why did He create so many of them over the course of human existence? Homosexuality has been documented throughout the history of civilization. It exists in communities where it is accepted. It exists in places where it is punishable by death. It exists wherever there are people. And if homosexuality is unnatural, why does it exist in other species in nature as well? Homosexual behavior has been observed among other primates, other mammal species, birds, reptiles, insects…. And don’t get me started on the perverse sexual behaviors of mollusks and barnacles. Barnacles change genders daily! Back and forth, back and forth… freaky!
Hey, Steve! God loves you. Never mind the sign from the bigot. Give my regards to Adam.
So there are my proposed amendments so far. Not to the actual bible, of course, but rather examples of people’s… let’s say, enhanced interpretations. And as I mentioned before, feel free to propose your own amendments. (firstname.lastname@example.org). Unlike the U.S. Constitution, the amendment process here is much simpler. Instead of requiring passage in both chambers of Congress and ratification by 75% of the states, I am the sole arbiter. That’s not to say I’m God – after all, God would not solicit contributions from others. … But come to think of it, perhaps he should! “For starters, get rid of that Book Of Revelation End-Of-Days nonsense that frightens believers and inspires crackpottery. That was probably meaningful only to the persecuted Christ-followers in the era of the Roman Empire. And purge the irrelevant bullshit from Leviticus and Deuteronomy while you’re at it.”
But I digress.