Can’t See the Lord for the Trees (Chronicles 2 31-33)

In Chapter 31 Hezekiah goes on a rampage. He was due for one. He tears down all places of worship devoted to other gods, including the Asherim, which are just circles of trees. Seems a tad unnecessary since you could probably repurpose those trees for fun stuff like treehouses and hanging laundry to dry.

After that episode, Hezekiah divides up all the priests according to the jobs they do (and won’t do – get it?). He also contributes a bunch of his own stuff for a variety of burnt offerings, some of which are for the new moons. New moons? Sounds vaguely pagan. I know this because I used to consider my religion to be Wicca when I was sixteen. What I liked about Wicca – what I still like about Wicca – is that it has this real bitch-slap of a karmic rule: whatever you do comes back to you times three. In Hinduism, it just comes back to you but in Wicca, it comes back to you times three. Makes you think about all the times you were too lazy to recycle.

Anyways, Senneacherib, king of Assyria invades Judah next. Hezekiah tells his forces not to worry about those huge, hulking, hoarding Assyrians because the Lord is on their side. Whatever. That wouldn’t calm my nerves. In all honesty, every single time I go to Wonderland I bring an extra pair of underwear because I’m convinced that it will be too much and I’ll wet myself. Hezekiah’s eventual victory has more to do with the fact that he’s smart enough to cut off the Assyrians’ water supply, not God.

After Hezekiah kicks it, his son Mannaseh, who is twelve years old, takes over. That’s a great idea. Of course, it’s a hot mess, with Mannaseh bringing back all the idolatrous worship of other gods and cavorting about with mediums and wizards. Plus, he does a little soothsaying of his own on the side. Scandalous. A soothsayer has always been one of my backup costume ideas for Halloween since all it involves is a billowy robe and a bad attitude. What’s more, if you’re bloated from eating too much dairy or something then you can hide your bloat and NOT hide the fact that you feel badly about yourself by expressing general negativity. Win-win.

Beware the aisles of dairy.

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Published in: on October 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Time to Take Out the Trash (Kings 2 21-23)

“Time to take out the trash” is one of my favourite expressions. I used to say it a lot while pretending to pull my pants up like some Chris Farley character. The expression is relevant to these chapters in Kings 2 because once again, the reigning kings revert to doing “what was evil in the sight of the Lord” until Josiah comes along and sets things right.

Manasseh reigns in Jerusalem and consorts with soothsayers, augurs, mediums and wizards, which God says is bad form even though this kind of company would make for a great party. These are the kinds of folks who, if you happen to be planning a wedding, you’d want to spread out amongst the tables in order to facilitate scintillating conversation. Augury, in case you didn’t know, is a practice of divination which involves interpreting the movements of birds as various omens. Augury is also a progressive death metal band from Montreal. They are very good (I don’t really know; I hadn’t heard of them until I searched “augury”).

Manasseh’s son Amon succeeds him and is no better. His reign is shorter, however, because he’s killed by his servants. This reminded me of one of my favourite old BBC series “I, Claudius”. I love John Hurt’s performance as Crazy Caligula, especially when he’s being assassinated by his German guard. He’s indignant: “You can’t kill me; I’m a god…. I’m a god, I’m a god, I’m a god!”. When he comes back as a ghost to visit his uncle Claudius he says, “Uncle Claudius, I wasn’t a god after all! You could have knocked me over with a feather when they told me!”. I found this uproariously funny as a twelve-year old because on the inside, I am an old lady. 

Anyways, Josiah eventually takes over. He gets one of his posse to make a visit to one of the priests and he finds the “book of the law”. Josiah flips through it and is like, “We’re not doing any of this. Shit”. He goes into overdrive. He spends most of his time going around and knocking down altars and trashing statues of other gods. He takes out the male cult prostitutes, too (they’re back…). None of this happens before he “rent[s] his clothes,” of course.

Fitting. Augury has a song called “Becoming God”. Enjoy.

Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 11:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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God Gives You Cancer (Samuel 5-7)

Now we know it’s got nothing to do with cigarettes or drinking out of plastic bottles.

God is pissed about his ark being stolen by the Philistines and he lashes out in a weird, weird way.

The Philistines take the ark to Ashdod, to the house of Dagon where, appropriately, a guy named Dagon lives. They set it down in front of him and immediately, he falls down, doing an unexpected faceplant. Interestingly, there are a lot of faceplants in the Bible – I take them to be indications of either awe or extreme drunkeness (too much Shiraz – oh, hello – what have I got here on a Thursday night? My writing partner, Mr. Jackson Triggs). Um, anyways, the next morning Dagon is found decapitated and “only the trunk of Dagon was left to him” (Sam 5:4). Gross. The Bible doesn’t mention any foul play amongst the humans in the house of Dagon so one can only conclude that God is the guilty party here. After all, he is a vengeful God.

Well, if that doesn’t prove it, God decides to give everyone cancer. That’s right: “The hand of the Lord was heavy upon the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory” (Sam 5:6). It’s pretty crazy how God covers his bases here by nailing not just Ashdod but the Mississauga and Etobicoke of Ashdod. You know, just in case. Better everyone gets cancer than to miss a few.

The Philistines are panicky and rightly so. They want to appease God so they fashion a “guilt offering”. You know what that is? Five golden tumors and five golden mice. What? I know. I had to re-read this passage a few times to make out where the mice figured in. It’s mentioned (in a kind of ad hoc way) that mice are also ravaging the land so I guess that makes sense. But what does a golden tumor look like? Like a slightly misshapen ball, I imagine. Whatever. The Philistines should probably just be quick about returning the ark. Eventually, they get it together and cart the ark to some place called Kiriathjearim. Twenty years pass and the Philistines and Israelites go to war again. This time, however, God is squarely on the side of the Israelites and helps them beat the Philistines at Mizpah. Then Samuel says some special speech about how great God is, which is ironic since he gave a lot of people cancer. 

Tumor.

 

 

Published in: on June 3, 2011 at 2:36 am  Comments (1)  
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