Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapters 14-16: God hates potters

Chapter 14

Solomon tells us a story about a group of idiots who can't sail but who go out on a crappy boat anyway, then get into trouble. They pray to god to save them and he does. Don't try this at home. Also, don't make things by hand or god will punish both you and your handiwork. Did they have Wal-Mart in the 3rd century BCE? Or is this some weird plug for Moses' extended family?

Gentiles are spiritual fornicators, which does not sound nearly as fun as regular fornication. And don't make pictures of your children, even if they die, because then you might start to worship them as gods. Some people did that once with a painting of a far-off king, but pretty soon they were worshiping the portrait instead of god, and then they started murdering they children, committing adultery, and perjuring themselves in court.

Chapter 15

If you sin, it's okay, because you're still one of god's children. But Solomon promises not to commit the sin of worshiping false idols. He accuses the potters of shaping clay for clean uses one day and maketh a vain god of the same clay the next (v. 7-8). Our fictitious potter is only trying to outdo all the metalsmiths, but in the end his life will be worth less than his clay. Why do I suspect that one of his thousand wives has a nephew who's a potter and needs work?

The enemies of the Israelites are stupider and unhappier than babies for believing in false idols and worshiping beasts, and all their tchotchkes are ugly.

Chapter 16

To punish the idol-worshipers, god made a fine stew of mystery meat and quail to tempt the heathens. It just so happens that they were hungry, suffering a temporary spell of poverty. But when they arrived for the feast, they were set upon by wild animals and serpents which stung and tortured them to death. Luckily for these sinners, they've wandered into Mormon heaven, where they get a second chance to accept god into their hearts after enduring torture and death.

God is a little less merciful to his own people, sending venomous dragons (v. 10) to torture them if they get out of line, but in the end he'll forgive them too. Of course, he can also send them to hell, especially murderers.

All those terrible things that keep happening to you? Rain, hail, fire that won't quit, beasts attacking you in the form of Guy Fieri? That's god scourging the heretics. No explanation as to why true believers all experience the same things, and if there was one it would just be, 'Well, you weren't doing it right.' But if god does like you, the reward is free bread.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapters 11-13: Stupidity talks, vanity acts

Chapter 11

Solomon recaps the book of Exodus for us, except in his version, the Israelites worshipped some stupid serpents and god sent wild animals to kill them. These particular beasts have sparkle eyes. Best line of the chapter: For thou lovest all the things that are, and abhorrest nothing which thou hast made: fo never wouldest thou have made anyt hing, if thou hadst hated it (v. 24). It's quite clear Solomon has never actually read Exodus, in which god kills the first-born children of the Egyptians, which I believe he created in Genesis.

Chapter 12

Things heathens do: witchcraft, wicked sacrifices (v. 2), child murde, cannibalism, feasts of blood (v. 3), killing souls. And god's punishment: wasps. It didn't work, at least not at first, because it was a naughty generation (v. 10). But in the end, they'll get what they deserve.

Chapter 13

People are vain and don't know that god exists. They think the things around them were caused by fire, wind, the stars or water, and think those things are the real god. They're closer, at least.

Other people go looking for god in things of beauty, like gold, silver, jewels, art or antiques. A carpenter cuts down a tree, carves it into a jug, which he then sells, and uses the proceeds to buy himself a nice meal. Then he takes the bits of wood that he rejected for the jug and carves a sculpture of a man, or some vile beast (v. 14), whatever. Then he paints it red. Then he sets up a shrine in a room and nails his figurine to the wall. Then he prays to it. That's about right.