Brothers: Just Like the Movie “Brothers” (Deuteronomy 24-25)

I’m really getting to like Deuteronomy. It’s a real cache of weird rules.

For example, if an ox walks all over your grain, you’re not allowed to muzzle it. This is a good rule because most folks get a little nervous when they see a muzzled animal. It’s usually pit bulls and those “miscellaneous” dogs that street kids tote around who have muzzles on them. Those dogs probably get a bad rap. Everytime I see one I remember how that woman who got that face transplant was originally attacked by a golden retriever. Who was probably wearing a bandana around its neck and named “Sandy”.

Deuteronomy 25 completely contradicts something in Leviticus. I’ve mentioned in past posts one particular passage from Leviticus that I’m overly familiar with thanks to the 1969 Hal Wallis classic Anne of the Thousand Days, a movie I watched pretty much every day when I was twelve. Henry VIII is able to divorce his first (barren) wife, Catherine of Aragon because she was formerly his brother’s wife and Leviticus calls this an “unclean thing… they shall be childless”. But in Deuteronomy 25 it says, “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her” (Deu 25:5).

I was looking for a relevant clip to show from Anne and I noticed a certain penchant for Tudor enthusiasts to create montages with Anne Boleyn to – for whatever reason – the music of Evanescence, which I find hilariously inappropriate because it sounds nothing like court music. I’ve come across this phenomenon many times.

So Deuteronomy 25 means that Tobey Maguire’s character in Brothers shouldn’t have gotten so pissed at Jake Gyllenhal’s character because he was just trying to do what was right. As a brother.

This trailer proves that even shitty movies can look good when backed by the music of U2.

Another weird rule in Deuteronomy 25 is that if a woman sees that her husband is in a fight and she tries to help him by grabbing the other guy’s junk then she’s in big trouble. Her punishment is her hand gets cut off. Yikes.

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Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 2:12 am  Comments (4)  
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Poop (Deuteronomy 23)

There are just so many things to be ashamed of.

Next on the list: pooping.

Here we go: “You shall have a place outside the camp and you shall go out to it; and you shall have a stick with your weapons; and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it, and turn back and cover up your excrement” (Deu 23:13).

The reasoning here is that because “the Lord walks in your midst,” it follows that you literally cannot soil your home and are under strict obligation to keep it poop-free so he doesn’t step in it. This is before the advent of indoor plumbing, of course.

Moving on, I’m not sure what “the assembly of the Lord” is but I’ll assume that it stands in for “church”. Okay, so you can’t go to church if you’re a man and have crushed testicles or your ding-dong cut off. “He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord” (Deu 23:1). My question is: who’s going to know?

Something I liked in Deuteronomy 23 was that the Bible permits you to go into your neighbour’s vineyard and eat as many grapes as you want. I might consider this stealing but then again, what’s a few grapes between neighbours? This ought to apply to all fruits. I have a delightful memory when I was a child of sitting by the chain-link fence that separated my parents’ yard from our neighbours’ and reaching through to eat the raspberries that they grew. I cleaned that thing. Then I would wait a few days until the green ones ripened and clean it again. They probably thought crows did it but it was just my chubby nine-year-old self, perpetually frustrated by small dinner and dessert portions.

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 12:31 am  Comments (1)  
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You Can’t Get Raped in a City (Deuteronomy 22)

You know who would enjoy reading Deuteronomy 22? Feminists. Here’s why:

If you’re a virgin who is engaged and you’re raped then you and your rapist both get stoned to death. He gets stoned because he raped you and you get stoned because “[you] did not cry for help though [you] were in the city” (Deu 22:24). Who said you didn’t cry for help? The assumption here is that if you’re in a populated area and nobody hears or helps you it’s because you weren’t shouting loud enough and probably wanted it in the first place. Maybe you were yelling rape instead of “fire” or “sale” or better yet, “fire sale”.

If you’re a virgin who is engaged and you’re raped in the “open country” then only your rapist gets stoned to death. Fingers crossed you’re raped in rural Oklahoma.

If you’re a virgin and your husband has sex with you and is unsure afterward that you’re a virgin (wide pelvis?) then you and your parents have to get your “tokens of virginity” aka bloody bedsheets, round up the elders and show the bloody bedsheets to them at the edge of the city. Gross. Probably not something you want to do at a Chili’s. If your bloody bedsheets are convincing then your husband gets whipped and you’re off to a great start to your marriage.

Deuteronomy also has some non-rape-related ridiculous rules. For example, you can’t wear “mingled stuff,” like poly-cotton blends or anything sold at the store Preloved. You also can’t sow your vineyard with two different types of seed or plow your fields with two different types of animals. You can’t watch your brother’s animals run away and do nothing, even if they’re foaming at the mouth and even if your brother happens to be a jerk. You can’t take a nest with both the mother bird and the baby birds (monster!) but you can just take the baby birds (“Not without my daughter”).

The best part of the trailer below is when the voiceover goes, “He lied…”.

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Why Buy the Cow? (Deuteronomy 21)

Deuteronomy 21 packs a punch.

Let’s say you’re on a power walk one day and you stumble across a dead body. Commonplace in biblical times, I’m sure. What you’re supposed to do, according to Deuteronomy 21, is gather the elders from the city that is the closest (old people have nothing better to do – well, maybe show up somewhere fifteen minutes early). They’re supposed to get a heifer that hasn’t worked much (so, a lazy one) and take it down to a valley and break its neck. Isn’t that hard to do? All I know of breaking necks I’ve gleaned from action movies. From what I understand you have to grab the head on either side and twist really fast like chiropractic gone wrong. I imagine this would be difficult if your target was a large bovine.

Let’s say you’re pillaging a city and you see a beautiful lady and you want to have sex with her. You’re not made of stone. What you’re supposed to do, says the Bible, is take her home with you, make her shave her head and give herself a mani/pedi. Literally, it says “you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and pare her nails” (Deu 21:12). This helps break her spirit. You’re supposed to give her a month of “space” during which she can cry about stupid things like missing her family and not wanting to get raped. When the month’s up you can have sex with her (says the Bible but likely not the lucky lady). If, for whatever reason, you’re left unsatisfied (maybe she just wasn’t into it) you can set her free and let her find her own way. But you can’t sell her. Oh, no. That would be immoral.

Let’s say you’re having difficulties with your son. He’s a problem child. Talks back to you, eats too much junk and drinks. Well, you can just round up all the men in town and stone him. They’re your buddies and should be happy to help resolve this familial problem. It’s probably wise that this applies only to your own children and not other people’s. I’d get a little stone-happy.

Published in: on March 18, 2011 at 8:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Paul Wylie and the Greatest Freeskate of All Time (Deuteronomy 19-20)

I don’t really see the difference between the Israelites and pirates. God wants them to attack other tribes, kill all the men, ransack their villages and take all their stuff. This sort of behaviour is especially okay when dealing with: Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perezzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Oh, and the Chinese.

It’s easy to get a little nervous when approaching battle, knowing that there is a distinct possibility that you might have a sword pushed through your belly and come out the other side of you. So God has a canned pep talk that his people can draw upon in times like these. He says, “Hear, O Israel, you draw near this day of battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint; do not fear or tremble, or be in dread of them; for the Lord your God is he that goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory” (Deu 20:2-4). This is way too dry. Not inspiring at all. God obviously hasn’t seen the Kenneth Branagh version of Henry V. Oh, man. That speech he gives is so good:

Did you see a young Christian Bale?

I feel like I’ve mentioned this speech before. It figured prominently in my childhood. Plus, I’ve always had a lady boner for Kenneth Branagh. What gave me a double lady boner was when Paul Wylie skated his silver medal-winning freeskate in the Albertville Olympics to the soundtrack to Henry V. I can’t remember it that clearly but I’m pretty sure I got a “feeling” watching this in 1992:

This post wasn’t so much about the Bible. But it was about things I like.

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 3:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Don’t Feed the Seagulls (Deuteronomy 15-18)

Surprise, surprise. More rules from chapters 15-18 of the Book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 15 puts forth the ridiculous rule of – get this – giving to the poor. Not only that, God commands that “you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be” (Deu 15:8). That’s pretty wide open. What if his need is a bottle of Sailor Jerry Rum, a cell phone or a sad (and strangely simultaneously vicious-looking) dog that he can’t care for? That’s what I feel I’m being asked for everytime the bottom strata asks me to metaphorically open my hand. Little do they know, I live off of free samples that I garner from those 20-somethings standing at major intersections in matching smocks.

The number seven figures prominently in the Bible. It’s probably been carried over from paganism. If you own a slave, you’re supposed to release him on the seventh year of his servitude. This is slippery because it’s likely that slaves back in biblical times couldn’t count. “Has it been seven years already? No, no, no, my good man. I think it’s been only five. Now back to your goat-milking (or whatever)”. If, in a lapse of sanity, the slave doesn’t want to be set free and instead wants to stay on with the family, God commands you to nail his ear to the door in some weird, symbolic gesture of bondedness: “…you shall take an awl, and thrust it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your bondman forever” (Deu 15:17). Sure, that makes sense, I guess.

Published in: on March 15, 2011 at 1:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Don’t You Want Somebody to Stone? (Deuteronomy 11-14)

Don’t you need somebody to stone?

Wouldn’t you love somebody to stone?

You better find somebody to stone.

Ahem.

God really hates Egypt. He promises the Israelites that their awaited land will be way better than the so-called “iron furnace” and says that it is “a land the Lord your God cares for,” (Deu 11:12) implying that he does not care about other lands. Recent happenings in Japan might be seen to back up these harsh sentiments, Christian readers (of which I have none).

Anyways, as I said in the last post, Deuteronomy does not offer a lot of new information. I’m getting pretty bored here. The commandments are hammered home and there’s more talk about what you can and can’t eat. New on the list of animals you can eat: the (Sears &) roebuck. Game. Delicious. New on the list of animals you can’t: the little owl. Too bad. Doesn’t seem like a big deal; it’s just little, after all. And you can’t eat any animal you find dead (like roadkill) either. You can, however, give it to a non-Hebrew stranger to eat or, in the spirit of entrepreneurship, sell it to a foreigner. Genius.

Moving on, God wants anyone who presents him or herself as a prophet or “dreamer of dreams” (aren’t we all?) and tries to steer the Israelites away from their faith to be stoned. He’s pretty clear about this when he says, “you shall kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death” (Deu 13:9). Well, not everyone can be first but I guess God wants everyone to be enthusiastic. Get into it, people.

Published in: on March 13, 2011 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Foreskin of Your Heart (Deuteronomy 7-10)

The Book of Deuteronomy is proving to be a disappointment. It just rehashes what happened in Exodus and feels like the writers are stalling big-time.

Let’s make one thing very clear: the Old Testament does not preach religious tolerance. Rather, it preaches active religious intolerance. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not exactly the most tolerant person when it comes to religion. I truly dislike it. But I don’t make a habit of going around town and ripping crucifixes off the necks of little old ladies. In Deuteronomy 7, God endorses the following behaviour: “But thus you shall deal with them: you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.” (Deu 7:5) Wow. That’s intense. P.S. I looked up “Asherim” and it’s a wooden pillar that symbolizes the Canaanite goddess Ashera.

Looking up Ashera led me to one to many “goddess” websites (which I would have really been into when I was sixteen and, for a brief period, a practicing Wiccan). The design of these websites makes it hard for anyone to take them seriously. Check this out:

Sparkly Website

God goes on to command: “And you shall destroy all the peoples that the Lord your God will give over to you, your eye shall not pity them…” (Deu 7:16). Even worse. These lessons seem to be in direct competition with those of the New Testament which is much more warm and fuzzy. How do Christians decide which ones to live by?

God reminds everyone of the manna he gave them to eat when they were wandering around in the desert. Manna does not sound like it tastes good at all but, not to worry, “man does not live by bread alone” (Deu 8:3). That sounds like something from a pro-anorexia website. I was heavily into pro-ana and mia websites in 2005. Pure fascination. I’m fascinated with both ends of the spectrum: the deathly thin and the morbidly obese. I think I remember reading in “Ana’s Grotto” that you could fill yourself up on air by breathing deeply when you were hungry. Tried it; didn’t work.

Here’s a nice picture I found on a pro-ana website:

What I like about it, is that it’s message is very subtle. The black around the eyes is a nice touch, too.

Moving on, God tells his people that they’re “stubborn” because they didn’t listen to everything he said while they were wandering aimlessly in the desert for forty years with infrequent access to food and water. I’d question his leadership skills, too. In Deuteronomy 10, God uses an interesting metaphor that I wouldn’t have chosen myself. He’s trying to get across the point (I think) that they need to just relax and listen to him: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn” (Deu 10:16). Okay. I can’t really see the similarites between a penis and a heart that would give *oomph* to this metaphor but that’s just me.

Published in: on March 12, 2011 at 8:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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What’s the Diff? (Deuteronomy 4-6)

God is one of those annoying people at parties who tell you the same story even if you’ve heard it before and even if you say, “Yeah, I remember that one”. Those people tell you the story not for the benefit of others who haven’t heard it but just to hear their own voice.

In Deutoronomy 4, God deems it necessary to rehash the rule against making and worshipping idols and graven images. He admits to being a “jealous god” and a “devouring fire” (Deu 4:24). Why is it okay for God to be jealous but one of his people can’t covet his neighbour’s wife? In the words of a bratty friend of mine, Tara K., “What’s the diff?”.

A side note: Tara K. was any parent’s worst nightmare. Obnoxious and loud, she always managed to break something whenever she came over to my house and give a lot of sass to boot. One time my parents let me bring her to one of their friend’s cottages for the weekend. She broke a full stack of dishes and a special hammock from Costa Rica. When my parents’ friend criticized her for setting the table wrong (the blade of the knife facing out, not in), Tara simply stuck her hip out and asked, “What’s the diff?”. My parent’s friend full-on slapped her in the face. It was amazing. I can’t say I blame my parents’ friend. Tara had been there nearly thirty-six hours.

Back to God being jealous. He wants everyone to have the following posted on their doors: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deu 6:4). That’s just too many words. Cumbersome compared to “Home, Sweet, Home”. This seems to me to be the Biblical equivalent of God wanting his people to post “In a Covenant” on their Facebook pages.

God keeps bringing up the fact that he brought his people out of Egypt, which he calls “the Iron Furnace” (Deu 4:24). I wonder why Egypt doesn’t use that epithet to promote tourism. Another side note: Cobourg, the town that I hail from, has a sign that reads, “Cobourg, the Feel Good Town”. I’ve always thought this would better fit a place like Cabo, which I imagine having more drinks in coconuts and less pregnant teenagers.

 

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 3:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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God is Natasha from Cycle 8 of ANTM (Deuteronomy 1-3)

I am always hopeful turning the page to read a new chapter of the Bible. “Maybe something exciting or erotic will happen in this chapter,” I say to myself. But I am disappointed once again, much like white trash who buy lottery tickets every single week. The first three chapters of Deutoronomy are dull and serve only to recap the forty years in the wilderness that Moses and his people have been wandering at the beck and call of their flippant deity, God.

One description of their trials and tribulations cracked me up: “Then the Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you as bees do…” (Deu 1:44). I have never been chased by bees but I imagine that it’s terrifying. You probably can’t run in a straight line because you’re running with your arms madly flapping all over the place. Remember how Macaulay Culkin’s character died in My Girl? The bees got him. The movie never showed what happend after he knocked down that bee’s nest (idiot) but they should have. It would have been instructive for its younger audience to see that.

God has an interesting way of glossing over things. Check this out: “For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands; he knows your going through the great wilderness; these forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing” (Deu 2:7). Oh, really? I seem to remember some Hebrews getting pretty vocal about the fact that they had no water a while back. Moses had to do that magic trick where he smacks a rod (you could just as easily call it a wand, Christian fundamentalists) and makes water come out of a rock. God was witholding. Not inessentials, like fancy face creams, but water.

God reminds me of this famously dumb, crazy Russian girl from Cycle 8 of America’s Next Top Model named Natasha. She had an amazing way of taking criticism and turning it into praise. She was faultless in her own eyes. Sometimes it’s good to be dumb.

Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 9:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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