Dorothy F. (Psalms 80-89)

Biblical times must have been rough. A lot of these psalms that I’ve been reading seem to focus on how God can punish the various writers’ enemies, or at least keep them at bay. These enemies, who lay “crafty plans” (Psalms 83:3), need to be “put to shame and dismayed forever” (Psalms 83:17). Everyone who’s written a psalm has gone on about their enemies. This got me thinking: who are my enemies?

Is there anyone out there who really, truly hates me? If there is, I’m unaware. I’m slightly saddened by this thought because I think that if your friends in some part help define you then surely your enemies must as well. If I trawl my history the one person that comes to the surface is Dorothy F.

Dorothy F. and I went to elementary school together. She hit her peak in popularity in Grade 5 before some girls started to grow boobs and get their periods, and a new hierarchy emerged. She had Aryan blue eyes and blonde hair and sharply defined bangs, mathematical in their precision. She was the first of us to sport brands like OP and Vuarnet and wear bike shorts like regular shorts. Her parents had more money then rest of ours.

Dorothy F. was a mean little girl.

I once used a tri-syllabic word in her presence and she responded by asking me, “Are you a fucking dictionary?”. That hurt. I once took a trip to London and Paris with my parents and not wanting me to have the cultural upper-hand, lied and told me that she’d done the same over a weekend (did I question her? No. I didn’t have the strong grasp on time zones that I do now). But the worst? She got to slow dance with the object of my desire Marc D. during our Grade 5 parties (to “More Than Words,” as I recall).

Now that I’ve listed her slights against me, they don’t seem all that bad. Mind you, they seemed like huge injustices at the time. Maybe I’ll look her up on Facebook. Okay. I just looked her up. It appears that she’s married with kids and likes Mexican resorts.

This song holds up, doesn’t it?

Published in: on June 23, 2013 at 12:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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Will God F*#k Us Over? Natch! (Psalms 71-79)

King David has stepped aside as Psalmster and Asaph has taken his place. Maybe he can breathe some life into the joint. I hope so because I’m bored, yo!  I’ve been finding it difficult to muster a single comment that sounds more engaged than, “That psalm was very interesting”.

But first – who was this Asaph guy anyways? I looked him up in Wikipedia. Apparently, he was the son of Berechiah, one of the Asaphites (and how is that pronounced exactly?) who were a bunch of musicians in Jerusalem temple. Like the biblical equivalent of the Partridge Family or the Jacksons (but probably with more sexual abuse).

Anyways, as Psalmster, Asaph goes on and on about how the wicked are going to get theirs in the end before posing the pointed question of: “Will God fuck us over?”. That’s me paraphrasing, natch. [Sidenote: Not so long ago, I was out on what I thought might have been a date and I could not stop saying “natch” to signal agreement. What’s wrong with me?] This is good. This is the kind of critical thinking that excites good teachers and annoys bad ones. Asaph asks, “Has God forgotten to be gracious?/Has his anger shut up his compassion?” (Psalms 77:9). Cuts right to the core on that one.

Unfortunately, that’s where the critical thinking ends. Asaph rehashes God’s treatment of Moses and his people to provide a context in which God doesn’t look all that bad. Remember the locusts and the frogs and the flies and all that jazz? Remember when he turned the rivers to blood and killed all the first-born in Egypt? C’mon, guys. That stuff was way worse. Sure God gets pissy sometimes but we don’t have it that bad. Hooray for God!

Admittedly, he has an anger problem. But just look at all the nice things he buys me! Isn’t this dining set to die for? 

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Published in: on June 16, 2013 at 10:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Flesh-Eating Dogs (Psalms 66-70)

I’m hoping Psalms turn the corner soon because they are bo-ring. David blathers on about how his enemies are going to get their comeuppance, and how God is going to be the one to deliver it. I think we’ve all heard that Old Testament God is a like a schoolyard bully and New Testament God is like the facilitator of a yoga retreat or a Landmark forum. On second thought, I think we’ve probably heard the former but not the latter. The latter is clear to me and my brain though.

Here’s some cool stuff that Old Testament God does:

“…shatter the heads of his enemies…” (Psalms 68:21) WHOA!

“…trample underfoot those who lust after tribute…” (Psalms 68:30) NO WAY!

Here’s some cool stuff that Old Testament God says:

“I will bring them back from Bashan/I will bring them back from the depths of the sea/that you may bathe your feet in blood/that the tongues of your dogs/may have their portion from the foe” (Psalms 68:22-23) WAIT – WHAT!? 

If you’re at all unsure of which God to believe in (Allah, Vishnu, Tuoni… Finnish god of the underworld who greets you with a frosty mug of frogs and worm upon arrival), this God would allow you to feed your dogs the flesh of your enemies.

Now here’s a dog food commercial from the Netherlands that made me laugh a little. Look for the moment when it seems the woman is so taken with the aroma of the canned dog food that it looks like she’s actually going to chow down on it. [Sidenote: my pal Ken who has negative 5% body fat once convinced me that the new trend in exercise nutrition was to eat canned dog food. “Better than protein powder,” he said.]

Published in: on June 13, 2013 at 1:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Put A Bird On It! (Psalms 50-65)

These psalms by David continue on in their usual mean-spirited way (e.g., “O God, break their teeth in their mouths” (Psalm 58:6). Ouch. Some of them are classified as miktams and others as maskils, if you’re interested (I’m not).

According to a random, non-legit-looking website I consulted via a Google search, a maskil – FYI – is a particularly “skillful, poetic, or didactic psalm”. Didacticism in the Bible?! Get outta town!!

The heading to Psalm 56 caught my eye. It reads: “To the choirmaster according to The Dove on Far-Off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him at Gath”. “The Dove on Far-Off Terebinths”? I got excited for a moment, picturing a talking dove. I love it when animals talk in movies (G-Force, Hotel for Dogs, etc) and I half-expect it in my day-to-day life (I’m surprised that when reprimand my rooommate’s dispeptic cat Mugsy for upchucking – yet again – he has nothing to say for himself).

Anthropomorphism was the cornerstone of my former decades-long vegetarianism, I suspect.

I looked up this sassy, smart-talkin’ dove and was disappointed to find out that “The Dove of Far-Off Terebinths” was likely the title of a popular secular song at the time. Surprisingly, Psalm 56 would have been sung to its tune like a song from Weird Al Yankovic’s ouevre (he deserves that word; he’s underrated; he COMMITS).

Put a Bird On It.

 

Published in: on June 5, 2013 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This Little Piggie is Worth $200 (Psalms 41-49)

Finally – a change of tone. Most of the psalms had been sounding much the same to me; however, in and around Psalm 44 David gets uppity with God. Check it out: “Thou hast made us like sheep for slaughter/and has scattered us among the nations/Thou hast sold thy people for a trifle/demanding no high price for them/Thou has made us the taunt of our neighbours/the derision and the scorn of those about us…” (Psalm 44: 11-13).

And he goes on like that for a while.

I like it; he’s calling God out on his shit. Now this relationship is beginning to look more like a two-way street.

Surprisingly, I also enjoyed Psalm 49, which smacks of anti-materialism (I am a plain-clothes hippie). It reads: “Why should I fear in times of trouble/when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me/men who trust in their wealth/and boast of abundance of their riches/Truly no man can ransom himself/or give to God the price of his life/for the ransom of his life is costly/and can never suffice/that he should continue to live on for ever/and never see the Pit” (Psalm 49:5-9).

I’m guessing “Pit” is capitalized for one of two reasons:

1. It is very big.

2. It is the improv theatre in New York.

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Psalm 49 reminded me of those insurance policies they asked you to buy in high school. They were policies you had in case you got into an accident. They put a price tag on your various body parts. If you lost a toe, you got paid so much money… if you lost an arm, you got paid more (obviously)… there was even a number on decapitation, gruesomely (and hilariously). I remember looking them over and thinking they were incomplete. I thought they should’ve considered combinations, like if you lost two toes on one foot. Each of those toes should’ve become more individually valuable because that would mess with your balance big-time, not to mention giving you shoe-shopping trouble for the remainder of your life (Am I right, ladies?). You should’ve been paid more. That made sense to me anyways.

Published in: on June 2, 2013 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How to be a Crazy Bitch (Psalms 31-40)

This set of psalms follow the general trend: David thanks God for helping him with stuff while imploring God to punish the people who screw him over. Tattletaling, basically. This comes as no surprise to me since I find that the most Christian-y Christians are pretty darn judgemental (“Okay, maybe eight abortions is one too many”).

All of the psalms have a header and the one atop Psalm 34 caught my eye:

A Psalm of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech so that he drove him out, and he went away.

In my experience, pretending to be bat-shit crazy is almost always an effective strategy.

Back in the day when I was sort of an actor, I did these lame murder mystery gigs. Long story short, I prop gun fell on my face, leaving me sporting an impressive black eye. I was in a subway station and some jerk-off stepped on the back of my heels because I wasn’t walking fast enough (apparently). When I turned to see what his deal was, I got this: “Walk much?”. Not cool. Since I have whatever the female version of the Napoleon complex is, I decided to double-back and cut him off in front of the subway doors. He. Freaked. Out. While he was screaming at me, I removed my hat to show off my black eye and calmly asked, “Are we gonna do this?” then thrust my sternum quickly upward in what krumpers would call a chest pump. He walked away thinking – I’m assuming – that I was a loose cannon. Check. Mate.

 

Published in: on June 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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