Great Moments in Hyperventilation

All up in our Nietzsche.

Tuesday’s award for Best Harbinger of Apocalypse goes to Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, who in the wake of the Vermont veto override coughed up a holy hairball:

Vermont legislators’ futile attempt to replace God by vainly redefining marriage eerily follows how that first man and woman acted on the first temptation — and the root of all temptations — to act as if they were gods. That one decision by Adam and Eve to believe that they could ‘be like God’ separated them from God, destroyed the peace that they had experienced, and ushered in what some would call ‘unintended consequences’ of pain and destruction.

We’re fascinated by her choice of Genesis 3 as the scripture du jour. Among other things, that’s where the Lord created Zombies, since he cast Adam and Eve from the Garden before they could nosh on the Tree of Life. No death, no undead.

But we’ll save the Zombie Exegesis for Sunday.

More to the point, we find it noteworthy that “Concerned Women for America” would highlight a chapter that proclaims women’s subjugation to men: “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (3:16). We look forward to the CWA’s announcement of a new campaign to overturn the 19th Amendment, and we’d be happy if Sarah Palin would STFU as well. Tell her the Lord says it’s cool with him.

But let’s get to the heart of it. The “temptation” Wright decries is not a hand in the divine cookie jar, but the source of our humanity: the knowledge of good and evil, “a tree to be desired to make one wise” (3:6). Maybe the Lord had his reasons to warn us away from that, but he doesn’t divulge them. Instead, he gets all pissy that we’re catching up to him:

And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and live for ever:

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. (3:22-23).

In other words: We do not act “as if” gods. We are gods, equal to our creator but for everlasting life. We carry within us the knowledge of gods — of good and evil — and the obligation to wisely exercise that knowledge.

Or, as celebrated biblical scholar Uncle Ben says: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

The “peace” Wright laments is the peace of ignorance, which we left behind in the Garden of Eden, or the savannahs of distant Africa if you prefer, and to which we cannot return. But we remain capable of a more sublime peace: the peace of justice, of wisdom well-exercised. The peace of the gods.

So, as one god to another, we herald Vermont’s decision Tuesday, a victory over the evil represented by Wendy Wright, who would license her bigotry to deny happiness to others. But alas, we’re just a yellow-belt god, and we haven’t figured out yet how to consign souls to hell.

Legislators create urgency for other states to pass marriage amendments [Christian NewsWire]

I’m waiting for the wingnuts to pull a Cartman and say “Fuck you guys, I’m going…”

The problem is where do they go? Placing fundies into a place is much like placing a nuclear waste dump. No one really wants it, no one is sure if it can be contained for a long time and we’re going to have a wait a long time for it to become inert.

Very good piece, nojo.

But isn’t she theologically confused? There are, of course, two stories of creation in Genesis, one right after the other. In the first, Adam and Steve are created at the same time from dust, blown upon and told to go off and be fruitful and multiply – implying, of course, that the Lord was down with sexytime. It’s in the second that Steve is created from Adam’s rib and they are expected to be chaste. (The order of what is created when is also slightly different). There are similarly two trees: one is the tree of knowledge and the second is the tree of immortality. What Adam and Steve do is to challenge the godness of God, which is why he gets so pissed. There are details I now can’t remember and I’m not going to go and look it up, it’s too depressing. But it’s all so very different from this pabulum the fundies are forever spilling down the front of their dresses.

What I wonder is, when they don’t have us to kick around who will be next? What will be the next outsider group? Blondes?

@Benedick: There’s always the old standbys of the Mexicans and the Jews.

Vermont legislators’ futile attempt to replace God by vainly redefining marriage eerily follows…[blach, blah, blah]

OK, first off: there’s no rule says you must preface every word in your sentence with either an adjective or an adverb. Drop the “vainly” and the “eerily.” They don’t convey a heightened sense of indignation, as you suppose. They convey that you’re an idiot who’s trying to sound like she’s not, but failing.

Next: if the attempt was “futile” then why are you even bothered enough to get all worked up over it?

Finally: No, no it does not “eerily” follow “how the first man and woman acted on the first temptation.” In fact, any parallels between the garden of Eden, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the actions of the Vermont legislature are forced, at best. I don’t recall the serpent of the book of Genesis tempting Eve to re-define anything. I don’t recall Genesis saying anything about teh gayz. And I don’t recall the Vermont legislature eating any forbidden fruits.

So put a sock in it lady, and come back when you’ve got something constructive to add to our national conversation about civil liberties… which I suspect will turn out to be: never.

ManchuCandidate: “The problem is where do they go?”

Oh, I think you know precisely where they go. And thusly Alberta shall rule over you, take away your communist health care system and your support for the arts and the multi-culti / hockey games simulcast in Punjabi (yes, friends: the CBC actually does that) / two-languages-one-nation worldview. We will be eternally grateful, and profoundly sorry.

Meanwhile: I am waiting with antici…. pation for the calls to boycott Vermont. Go ahead and do it, wingers. Christmas in Vermont will be so much better for it.

@chicago bureau:
Heh. Alberta’s in a bit of a financial pickle right now. Unless the fundies can devine oil they might not be welcomed with open arms.

They actually do Raptors games in Punjabi. I was there at the game (free tickets) when they announced the first ever game–against the Clippers (ugh–the Clippers not the Punjabi.)

Serolf Divad: Yo, check your regs in re Adam and Eve. If this is to be believed, Adam and Eve became Abel and Eve, and then Seth and Eve, who begat (CB begins snoring already). And thus we are all inbred backwards doofuses (or is it doofi?) who are one genetic switchout from extinction. Don’t believe me? Then you don’t believe everything in the Bible is true, hmm? Socialist.

(Seriously: anybody know precisely when Woman No. 2 gets mentioned in the Bible? I don’t have it handy.)

Let Wendy and her ilk cower inside their ignorance and fear. They already have condemned themselves to tormented hell.

I for one have had a simply marvelous time telling straight women who comment on a piece of jewelry I’m wearing that ” Every woman should have a wonderful wife like mine to buy them jewelry” Their double takes are priceless.

National Review (both blog and dead-tree, apparently) are trying to have it both ways. In talking about a possible bill in New Hampshaaah, they speak thusly:

New Hampshire, which already has civil unions for same-sex couples, is considering treating such couples as though they were married. The Democratic governor, John Lynch, has said he may veto a same-sex-marriage bill. We hope that it does not come to that, but that he will follow through if it does. Governmental recognition of marriage is pointless except as a way to nurture the vital but delicate relationship between sex and the raising of children. Same-sex marriage does not expand the institution so much as empty it of content.

There it is! Bitching and moaning about Iowa’s gay-marriage-by-judicial-fiat / legislating-from-the-bench turns rapidly into “you know what, we don’t like it in any form which it comes to us. So screw y’all.”

Consistency, hobgoblins, etc.

Oh, and Maggie Gallagher is pissed off. Poor thing. And thus: an ad from her brute squad ( “you are the brute squad!” ), with rejects from extras casting earnest young breeders on camera. First few seconds of script: “There’s a storm gathering. The clouds are dark, and the winds are strong. And I am afraid.”

Just precious.

[ADD: Letter-to-the-Editor writers, unite! One such offering from the Burlington Free Press, in which a guy from Winooski offers this tidbit in mid-screed: “People who are in Montpelier and are openly gay should not be allowed to vote because it is conflict of interest.” It’s just wonderful to be shown how delightfully fucked-up some people are, isn’t it?]

@chicago bureau, manchu: Did you see that the son of a Hanson Brother scored his first NHL goal last night?

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The son of one of the notorious Hanson brothers from the movie “Slap Shot” scored his first NHL goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Christian Hanson, the son of Dave Hanson, lifted a rebound of a Jason Blake shot past Martin Brodeur at 15:56 of the first period to give Toronto a 3-0 lead.

Hanson signed a two-year, entry-level deal with Toronto last week and was playing in his third NHL game. The 23-year-old from Venetia, Pa., recently completed his college career at Notre Dame, where he had a 16 goals and 15 assists in 37 games.

redmanlaw: It’s garbage time for the Maple Leafs, of course. Were totally out of it by Februaryish (mathematically eliminated only a couple of weeks ago). And so he goes to the AHL for some seasoning.

Of course, why bother with the Son of the Hansons when you have the real thing in Sean Avery? (Observe.) Oddly, the Hanson Brothers were over the top, and funny. Sean Avery, however, is a USDA Certified, Grade AA douchebag — harassing everybody in sight but going all turtle like when somebody challenges him. Punkass.

@chicago bureau:
Hey now! Any time during the season is Garbage Time for the Loafs.

@chicago bureau: There was a schism that addressed the problem of the two creations that came up with the solution of Adam’s first wife, Lillith, the dust wife. Eve being the rib wife and hence the trophy version. And, yes, Adam was a divorced man. Then there is much about talking snakes and such as (if viewed as metaphor I can cope, if viewed as literal fact, well…) then a great fog of vagueness till we hear mention of Cain and Abel’s wives. Who were presumably their sisters. I always enjoy hearing fundies exegite their asses around that and work out somehow that it was a good thing. The same problem rears its ugly head with the second creation myth, the Flood, where we run into the problem of just who did Ham and Tripp and Trig marry. I know they had wives on boarding but all those kids marrying first cousins and brothers and sisters.

Oh God, I see we’re on to hockey. Oafs on Ice.

@Benedick: That, as ManchuCandidate helpfully reminds us, should be “Loafs.” Fixed.

@chicago bureau: I want to sponsor a ballot initiative that would outlaw marriage for non-breeder heterosexuals like me or infertile heterosexuals or old people who are post-menopausal or in possession of tired sperm.

Because apparently 7 billion miracles in this world aren’t enough and our only function as humans is to make more babies for Jeebus. Oh and consumers for Sprawl-Mart.

@SanFranLefty: How about supermodels + Googlegeeks and drunken pop stars + high school flames?


Not to be an apologist, but what looks like two separate creation accounts in the Bible (two accounts I mocked viciously in the ZB) is actually a literary device called concentric narrative, used to drive the truths of the text into the mind of the reader. It isn’t a technique used very often outside of religious texts (as a rule we tend to be more interested in good ol’ linear narritive, but it was a favorite technique of the Hebrews particularly. You find it all over the Old Testament, and there are examples in the new as well.

ADD: Lillith, incidentally, is one of those strange figures that appears in several ancient mythologies. She is mentioned in the bible (although her name is usually translated as “screech owl”), but you don’t find her as Adams’ first wife even in the Talmud. I think she was a Persian storm goddess, something like that, at first. Her association with Adam comes from non-canonical Jewish folk tales. And I think the modern Kabbahlists make a big deal about her, although I may have her confused with Kirstie Alley.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Forgive me but I don’t think so since the two accounts flatly contradict each other. I think it is an instance of an early editor not knowing which to choose so including both to avoid lightning bolts in case he picked the wrong one. Ideas such as Concentric narrative are ploys to make the Bible look more cohesive than it in fact is. Plus, early writers of said book were not so lit savvy. Compared to Homer – which is contemporaneous with some OT – it is laughably crude.

As for Lillith, she’s not canonical. She was dragged into the mix by early commentators trying to make sense of it all. And yes, she’s an earlier goddess: like so much else of the Christian pantheon.

Kirstie Alley? I think you mean Bebe Neuwirth. Are you sure you’re gay?


Contradict each other? Flatly? You should support your thesis with examples. Saying a thing does not make it so. And as for concentric narrative, it is the commonly accepted lit. crit. term for the way in which several parts of the Bible are written- so your argument wouldn’t actually be with me, it would be with the entire western academic establishment. ;-)

I thought Kirstie Alley was a Kabbahlist? Ah well….

ADD: As for Homer, I think that it really depends on the translation, don’t you? The KJV of the bible is quite beautiful in its’ language- it is rumored that Shakespeare worked on it- and I think rivals a lot of translations of Homer- some of which, you must admit, are a bit staid and dry.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: I, for one, have no problem disputing the entire western academic establishment.

But I’ll sit out Dueling Creation Myths, although I would be wary of the presumptions underlying an ex post facto contextual argument. There’s no requirement that the Bible be internally consistent except our own sense of propriety.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Oh God don’t make me read Genesis!!! I’m begging you. I’d rather watch the Oafs on Ice Sport event. But as I remember it has to do with the animals; when created; Adam got lonely; blammo rib Eve. Other yarn animals created earlier (or later) does it matter? Adam doesn’t get lonely. Blammo dust Eve. But the very fact of the God telling them to be fruitful and multiply contradicts the whole Eve/serpent/sin yarn and the Innocence that has brought so much joy into the world.

I’m happy to take on the western lit-crit crowd because almost none of them know how stuff gets wrote. They just have opinions about it. The Bible makes me think of Star Wars: ie. a big ramshackle yarn that has to be amended along the way to fit with new developments because no one bothered to think it all out in advance and actually construct a cohesive plot. (See Norse myths for example on how this is done with many thrilling yarns along the way) So the old stuff gets revised to fit the new: and the new stuff gets revised to fit the old. And everyone wants to show how his version is better than any of the others. It was all given a gloss of respectability by academics fronting the church but I still say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.

BTW. When I finally read the Gospels and read what Jesus had to say about his own ministry I was mightily impressed. And of course it has nothing to do with what we are now told was his mission. And John has some fine naturalistic passages. Not to mention the hot boy on boy action.

Shakespeare did not work on the KJV. Trust me. Girlfriend was putting out one of them monster plays under his own name about every 6 months plus collaborating with others; there was no time. Plus, his Bible was the Wycliffe which predates the KJV and caused all the trouble. And I don’t hold with the Bible as literature meme. I think most of it is crude and devoid of ideas. Apart from Jesus in his own words. He is interesting. I only know a couple of translations of Homer. The Fagles is pretty terrific.

@nojo: What you said. If we were allowed to embrace and enjoy and, just throwin’ this out there, think about the contradictions in the Bible we might achieve a better understand of how and why it was written. And appreciate it for what it is.

Now I must get some work done.

If I recall, Genesis says something about the sons of Adam marrying “the daughters of men”–presumably those who evolved from monkeys.

Lillith…. is mentioned in the bible (although her name is usually translated as “screech owl”

And thus Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket has fully explained — quite elegantly, I might add — the 1990s phenomenon that was Lillith Fair. Kudos!

Meanwhile, same said commenter suggests: @I thought Kirstie Alley was a Kabbahlist? Ah well….

If memory serves, her religion seeks to bring her into harmony with other Thetans. (Yes, that’s right. That quasi-religion. Uh huh.)

@Benedick: There seems to be a big disagreement between bibilical specialists and lit critics, then, because almost everything I have read on genesis speaks of different authors and different tales simply mashed up. What with Y and J, and what was that to-do 20 years ago, the theory that J was a woman?

I know much more about the gospels than the OT, and there are many many instances of repetition with minor variations in them. The exegetes have it down to an absolute science, with a list of a dozen or so indicia of authenticity, my favorite is the “embarrasment principle,” and my other favorite is the one about twisting the story to fit some OT prophecy about the messiah, its so obvious when it is done.

I was amazed and awed, even, by parts of jesus’ story, but kinda scared by others, he taught love, yes, but also believed in demons and possession and magic.

The obvious effort to woo the followers of John into the Jesus camp is just too blatant.

The funnest part, though, is the galilee ministry, when it becomes clear he was like the beatles, there are several stories about him having to run from clamoring crowds that started following and chasing him, I would love to make a movie about it and film it like the scenes from Help!

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Madonna’s the kabbalist. I know, it’s hard to keep track of Celebrity Cult Fetishes.

Holy war?

Besides Genesis was pretty much lifted from the Sumerian and Babylonian creation myths.

Holy Jesus, I’ve been in deep briefwriting mode and have been missing out on some great threads. This job thing can be a real pain in the ass.

Anyone else see that Obama is hosting a seder? Do you think they’ll sing “Dayenu?”

@ManchuCandidate: Who got it wrong according to the tales of my parents’ tribes.

@Dodgerblue: Congratulations on your and your livestock not being slain by the Lord this year. One year I had to listen to a kid do a “passover rap” at a seder.


I’m just warning you both that in my experience, arguing the established meme with the existing academic establishment can be a bit of a slog….


Which is to say that all such myths are symbolic representations of a higher truth: We came from somewhere or something, and at a certain point gained self-knowledge and acquired language, culture, and morality.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: One doesn’t “argue” with the Academy. One steps to the side and throws spitballs.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Thus the Monolith. Makes a wonderful modernist abstraction, and goes with the coffeetable.

@redmanlaw: Thank you. Indeed murrain (cattle and sheep disease) has passed over Santa Monica this year, although certainly not because there are any observant Jews in my outfit.

Amazing that some anthology-type book published thousands of years ago and revised over the centuries into a kind of “best chapters” edition by bloodthirsty warmongers can still engender heated debate. I’d like to see the same treatment given to Flesh and the Word, Vol. I.

Arguing about the Bible is an instant soft-on for me. I just can’t reconcile my (admittedly fragile) grip on reality with the concept of some omniscient omnipotent guy-in-the-sky. It is really asking too much.

And even as a “work of literature”, well, I would argue it’s a crashing bore.

@Mistress Cynica: Word. On the monkey-men. Made me laugh.
@Prommie: I’m not so much with the miracles but when he actually says what his mission is it’s pretty awesome (Matthew and John): he says loud and clear that his purpose is to temper the Mosaic law with love. That’s it. So they went after him for blasphemy which is what he was arrested and crucified for. And he does really clever things. He says to the disciples, listen to what I say, eg Sermon on the Mount: what I talk about is important, what I don’t mention you can forget. In that way he can avoid the blasphemy charge. But of course they get him in the end.

@Benedick: Its one of those little elements of a real personality that shows through, that Jesus apparently had a little verbal tic, he often began sentences with the aramaic equivalent of “hear me now.” By the way, the only word of aramaic everyone knows would be “amen,” which just means “let it be.” The other real bit, which is likely true under the embarrasment principle, is his nasty temper.

When was it that judaism became monotheistic? After the babylonian captivity? It certainly wasn’t when Genesis was written.

@Prommie: Jesus apparently had a little verbal tic, he often began sentences with the aramaic equivalent of “hear me now.” So Hopey’s “ya know” is further proof that he is the Messiah ™?

@Benedick: @Pedonator: @Dodgerblue: @nojo: @Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: @redmanlaw: With this knowledge base, I’m expecting Great Things out of the ZombieBible project.


Isn’t one Native American creation myth about how the world was literally shit into existence by a Raven? Am I remembering that right?


Karen Huges wrote a great book about the subject A Short History of God, I think it is called.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Karen Armstrong, sir, Karen Armstrong.

But if you want to get your mind blown simply by a book’s sheer depth of cross-discipline research and rigorous logical analysis, read any of John Dominic Crossan’s books.

He’s the one who pointed out that “turning the other cheek” is an aggressive act of insolence. In mediterranean cultures there is a frequently occurring practice that one wipes one’s behind with the left hand and eats with the right. If someone strikes you on you’re right cheek, they used their “dirty” left hand, which is an insult and a sign of superiority. To turn the other cheek, then, is to say “hit me as an equal, don’t condescend to me,” a somewhat revolutionary act, at least quite cheeky.

This is one of the best works of nonfiction I have ever read, everyone should buy it through Nojo’s Amazon link, immediately, and it can be our first Stinque Book Club assignment:


Ah, I stand corrected. And with the Google right there, too.

@Prommie: And now all morning I will be thinking of Jesus saying in a “Hans and Franz” voice, “Hear me now and believe me later…”

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: The Maya believe that Man sprung from an ear of corn, which means they’re cannibals what with all them tortillas tan sabrosas.

@Mistress Cynica: Its been a while since I seriously read on this subject, but I may have not got quite the right nuance on what he said, it was less “hear me” and more “I tell you this,” like Jim Morrison. Kinda redundant, isn’t it? I used to write that way when I had a teacher who would assign 1,000 word essays as punishment for disrupting class, “What it is that I am going to say to you is that it is difficult to say what it is that is so difficult to say.”

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