Monday, January 9, 2012

Mark, Chapter 7: Plug your ears to cure deafness

In a show of unconventionality and, now that we have a germ theory, nastiness, Jesus & Co. don't wash their hands before eating or after coming in from the market. Nor do they wash their dishes, cooking pots or tables. And these four verses crystalize perfectly why this book is and ought to be completely irrelevant to us except as a literary and historical curiosity, because I doubt there are any Christians out there who eschew hand washing and claim they're 'following Jesus' teachings.'

Of course the Pharisees don't have a germ theory, because all this 'happened' two thousand years ago, so to them this is just a pissing match about religious customs, which Jesus escalates by pointing out that the Pharisees don't kill disobedient children, even though it's written in Mosaic law. He raises his voice to address the crowd: whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? (v. 18-19) except again, we now have germ theory. Oh, and apparently this is why we can now eat things like shellfish and pigs. Just make sure you wash them first. Then we get a list of things that do defile us, like fornication and foolishness, at least until we discovered germs.

Jesus tries to pull a Greta Garbo and sneak off to Tyre to be alone. Invariably, people find him and start asking for faith healing. First is a Greek woman with a possessed daughter. Jesus initially refuses, saying he needs all his mojo for his fellow Jews and comparing her to a dog, but she argues with him and he decides to save his energy and just save the girl.

His cover blown, he next seeks some peace and quiet in Decapolis, but no, someone is waiting for him with a deaf guy who also has a speech impediment. Jesus cures him in exactly the way you would expect if you come from a society that values science: he gives him some hearing aids and speech therapy. Oh wait! That's not what happens at all! In fact, he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue (v. 33). Gross! And not likely to work at all! But have at it, true believers, more science for the rest of us. Jesus swears everybody to secrecy, which as we all know is the best way to make sure everyone in the world hears about it.

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