Hi, My Name Is… And I’m an Existentialist (Chronicles 16-18)

King David is pleased with himself for bringing the ark of the Lord into Jerusalem and housing in a tent and making offerings and appointing a whole bunch of people to watch it. Division of labour isn’t David’s strong suit since he appoints about a million gatekeepers and he probably needs only one. They probably stand around talking about their relationships most of the time. And he appoints one guy to clash some cymbals together while another guy plays the trumpet in order to create “atmosphere” around the ark.

Kissing ass, however, is David’s strong suit. He sings a long, boring song about how wonderful God is. Nothing is ever said about such songs being prepared beforehand so I imagine that it’s all improvised, kind of like religious scatting. I had to go to church every week until I was sixteen (and unruly); it would have made it so much more entertaining if the priests had to make up the hymns on the spot. I bet there’s some really cool priest out there somewhere named “Father J” who does just that. Maybe he even raps.

It dawns on David that he lives in a nice, fancy house and the ark – a very important symbol of the enduring relationship between God and the Israelites – is in some crummy tent. So David sidles up to God and says things like, “You’ve been too good to me” and “I’m not worthy” and other nonsense. He really doesn’t know how to keep his mouth shut – he’s got a good thing going. Nothing really seems to come of this. Maybe it’s simply a lesson in how to be a groveller, which is a baseline expectation of Judaism and Christianity. Various existentialists have pointed out over the centuries how the overriding motif in these religions is “God is everything. You’re nothing. Deal.” I remember reading something from the second year course I took in existentialism that asked something to the effect of, “Why can’t we be our own ‘little gods,’ empowered and in control of our own morals, values, choices, etc.”. The phrase “little gods” really hit home with me but then again, I’m an only child.

If the existentialism doesn't get ya, the syphilis will.


Published in: on August 31, 2011 at 2:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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