Friday, March 8, 2013

James, Chapters 1-5: Your tongue will condemn you to hell

Chapter 1

Finally! A chapter of the new testament that isn't all about Paul and his creepy sexual predilections. James informs us that he's writing to the Jewish diaspora about how to get wisdom. Namely, ask god and he'll give it to you. I check the statistics to see if that is the most abused bible verse of all time, and yup, it is. Also, if you don't get wisdom, it's your fault, because your faith wasn't perfect.

The poor will be rewarded, and the rich punished, but not until everybody's dead, of course. In fact, the very best thing to be is tempted, because if you can resist it, you'll get the crown of life (v. 12). But don't say you're tempted, because god can neither tempt nor be tempted, nor does he ever change. Your temptations are because of your sinful, human, god-created lusts, which will eventually kill you. So be good, and better yet, do good works. What might those include? Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (v. 27). If only more christians followed that verse and didn't obsess about what happens in other people's bedrooms.

Chapter 2

A parable! I don't think we've had one of those in a donkey's age. So this is about a rich man dressed in  the gay clothing (v. 2) and a poor man, who both come into the temple. The rich man is offered the best seat in the house, whereas the poor is told to stand or crouch under someone's footstool. Lesson: don't judge a book by its cover, because god is taking the poors to heaven while the rich exploit us and sue us and blaspheme Jesus' name. 

If you do everything right, and then screw up one little thing, you're going to hell. But also if you were a merciless prick in life, you won't be shown any mercy in the afterlife. 

You can only get to heaven through good deeds, not just through faith. So if you see someone in need and wish them well, that's not enough. Also, devils believe in god.

Chapter 3

Don't become a preacher because you will be judged more harshly than others. A person who can control his own tongue is perfect and perfectly in control. He compares the tongue to a bit in a horse's mouth or a ship's rudder: a small instrument that controls a large and powerful thing. Likewise, your tongue can get you sent to hell. We are told that men can control any animal, but not his own tongue, which can be used equally well for cursing and blessing. It's like a fig tree that grows olive berries, or something. Anyway, control your tongue and you'll be saved.

Chapter 4

People suck: we fight wars, fuck people we aren't married too, and want things we can't have. Oh, we sure ask for things we want, but we don't get them because we asked in the wrong way. 

Next, James calls us adulterers because we try to hedge our bets by praying to various gods in hopes of assuring a good harvest or recovery from illness, but doing that will send us to hell. So resist greed, purify yourself, act sad and don't badmouth other people and you'll get into heaven. Finally, you are just a little speck of dust to god, and the only way to get noticed is through your good works.

Chapter 5

God is going to punish the rich by tarnishing their silver in the end times, so hold off on your jealousy now. And the end times are nigh. God is right outside the door. So don't take oaths, but pray. If you're happy, sing a psalm. If you're sick, as the others to pray for you and you'll feel better right away.  

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