last year i enjoyed reading A Year of Living Biblically, by A. J. Jacobs. Jacobs spent the year learning about and trying to adhere to every minute ridiculous letter of the law in the bible, and even though i'm not religious, it was fascinating (if not slightly shallow). now i'm interested in this guy, David Plotz, who dedicated his book to reading every word of the bible. now just to be clear i've read the entire bible, just not recently. it's been a few years and i don't really remember much that matters.
slate interviewed him and i thought he had a few really interesting thoughts, including that all high schoolers should be required to read the bible- NOT as religious text, but as part of a literature class. we require students to read the classic writers (Shakespeare or the Constitution or Mark Twain) because they influence us today and plotz makes some great points about how even a non-religious person's life is influenced every day by the writings and sayings that have originated in the bible and we aren't even aware of it. it might be better than reading beowulf for a 5th time. i'm just sayin.
but, what was even more interesting to me was the conclusion he came to:
You notice that I haven't said anything about belief. I began (reading) the Bible as a hopeful, but indifferent, agnostic. I wished for a God, but I didn't really care. I leave the Bible as a hopeless and angry agnostic. I'm brokenhearted about God.and just in case this wasn't serious or polarizing enough, in boston this week Gill v. Office of Personnel Management was filed. the gist of the case is that gay couples, legally recognized as married in massachusetts, are not recognized as married by the federal government. the state recognizes their union but they can't file join tax returns, receive social security benefits. etc etc. everyone has been so focused on california's proposition 8 that it's kind of been put on the back burner that these people are already legally married. many of them for years. what obligation does the federal government have to recognize these individual state laws? people who voted for ron paul (barf) wanted each state to make it's own laws about these controversial type of subjects. and they've gotten their wish so far. but now how does that pan out in the larger scheme of things? is a marriage recognized by the state but not recognized by the feds really as good and equal as mine?
After reading about the genocides, the plagues, the murders, the mass enslavements, the ruthless vengeance for minor sins (or none at all), and all that smiting—every bit of it directly performed, authorized, or approved by God—I can only conclude that the God of the Hebrew Bible, if He existed, was awful, cruel, and capricious. He gives us moments of beauty—such sublime beauty and grace!—but taken as a whole, He is no God I want to obey and no God I can love.