Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Eat the Beans

Imagine opening a steel can of beans.  You find the can you want in the pantry, set it on the counter, and fish around in the drawer until you come up with the can opener.  Set the opener on it, twist the crank and the can turns in steps under the cutter until the top is completely severed, and there you are with an opened can of beans.  Dump the beans into a pot, ready for heating and eating.

Now eat the can.

What was the point of all of that effort?  The can was made specifically for the purpose of conveying the beans from whatever canning factory to you with the beans intact, in good condition, so you could eat the beans.  But now you're eating the can.  That's dumb.  Really dumb.  Fo' real.

In a previous post I mentioned the "If It Ain't King James, It Ain't Bible" bumper sticker.  I love that sticker, I love those people.  For one thing, the people are passionate about their faith and that's great.  Everybody needs something to believe in, including atheists (atheists have placed their faith in the absence of a god, so they are in effect believing in something which would have to be the absence of something else.  Hilarious good fun).  I like the sticker because it means that person is serious.  But the sticker's message is bad.  Bad bad bad.

If it ain't King James, it must be something else.  New International, Good News, the Torah.  Whoops, my bad - that last one's only the first one-fifth of the Bible.  What the heck, roll with it.  But to imagine that the King James version is the be-all end-all of Christian authority is laughable.

First of all, the King James version is a Johnny-come-lately Bible.  It only goes as far back as the 1600s, so it's preceded by such translations as the "Great Bible" and the Tyndale Bible.  The "Great Bible" came about so some bits the Church of England didn't like about the Tyndale could be changed.

What's that, you say?  Someone would tinker with Scripture?  Oh, yes.  In fact we can find different versions of events within the Bible itself.  Read about Jesus' interaction with the hemorrhaging woman (Mat. 9:20 and elsewhere) and there are subtle differences between Matthew's description of the encounter, Mark's and Luke's.  Not enough that the message is lost, but differences.  And that's just differences between descriptions of an encounter those three apostles were supposed to have also witnessed; various translations have other differences added, removed, changed or mistranslated for assorted reasons, including political ones.  People take their Bibles seriously, adding stuff to it for any reason isn't something to be taken lightly.  Churches have split over single lines in the Bible, this kind of thing can create a whole new sect.

Why would it create a whole new sect?  Because they're eating that can.  The point of the message is that Jesus healed somebody, not because he intended for it to happen but because her faith was so strong that she couldn't help but be healed.  It was and is Jesus' entire point of existing, to heal people of the wounds upon their bodies and spirits, and the mechanism by which that happens is faith.  The lady approached him with only one thought on her mind: "I don't even have to touch him (which would have been illegal under the law as she was "unclean"), just his cloak would do."  And lo it came to pass, and Jesus noticed, et cetera.  That's the beans, her faith in the savior healed her.  Boom, done, who's next.  Whether the beans are Italian or frenched, lima or pinto, eat the beans!  The can just gets them to you.

Then there's the whole "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" passage.  That's in Exodus 22:18.  It lands in a list of other things thou shalt not suffer, but oddly is separated from the list of religious transgressions that thou shouldn't suffer either.  It's between a ruling on dowries for daughters and no nooky with animals.

Well, that last one's just gross.  I guess when you don't have cable TV people get bored, but man...

But if you start reading up on Ex 22:18 you find its history is a little convoluted.  It goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks, when they were saying thou shouldn't suffer a poisoner - maybe.  It could have been they were saying not to suffer a druggist.  By the time you get up to King James' translators, they were probably just as confused as I am, decided the word meant "witch" and went with that.  The popular story is that King Henry wanted shut of Anne Boleyn and had the passage interpreted in such a way that he could point to her extra breast and extra finger, declare her a witch and that was the end of her.

Interestingly, there appears to be no maxim stating that wizards had to be put to death.  It's only the female magicians that get singled out, Harry Potter need never fear.  There's a lot of fear and loathing of the distaff sex throughout history, but that's not today's topic.  Whether Anne had an extra breast or finger isn't the topic, either.

So which is it?  Witches, poisoners, pharmacists?  Tough call.  It's been a long time since the Bible first got written down, even some of the original apostles sat on their memories and let them stew a few years before they got around to writing about their experiences at Jesus' side.  Is it divine, the True Word of God, or is it history - written by the winners?

I don't think it matters.  What do you care, if the can is aluminum or steel?  What difference does it make whether the label is in King James English or New International?  The point is that the beans inside are good for you, and they're what you opened the can for in the first place.

Eat the beans.

1 comment:

  1. "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the frangrance of His knowledge in every place."
    That's 2 Corinthians 2:14.

    I think God was saying "Amen" to "Eat the Beans."