The sole Biblical tale I'd consider believing...

>> Tuesday, December 18, 2012


And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
and the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
- Exodus 16:2-4


That's it.  The only part of the Bible I'd consider believing.  At all.

And here's why: I have a cat.

Never a bad time to re-run a pic of this handsome feller.
And this cat goes around in the mornings and evenings, a-moaning and a-groaning, supplicating and appealing.  And lo! his prayers and protestations are answered, for here, from above, comes deliciousness from heaven!  The holy vessel, mysterious, hermetically sealed, inviolable no matter how fat kitty paws pad at it and no matter how naked bone-colored claws scratch at it, opens with a sudden hiss and pop.  And there, at the designated spot, a small pile of succulent, nutritious meat appears to be devoured by the faithful Chosen.

And then he'll start complaining again, of course.  Because he gets a can in the morning and a can in the evening, like the vet ordered.

This leads to a theory I'd consider believing in were I the least bit prone to religion.  I think it explains a great deal and wraps up a theological conundrum.

See, if we take the Old Testament at face value, Yahweh is constantly around, having conversations with the Children Of Abraham, whooshing around as a pillar of fire, announcing himself out of the bushes, telling people what he's about to do to the unrighteous world and making deals to save them or their families or their 17.4 million pets, making bets with Satan re: how miserable they'll get before they get upset, etc., etc.  And then Yahweh bails.  Just gets gone a couple thousand years ago, unless you're a Christian and buy into the whole giving up His only son to the mob to die for man's sins bit; and, not to be disrespectful while being irreverent kind of thing, but you have to admit the bit where He parted the Red Sea was a helluva lot more impressive on a whole Michael Bayean level than knocking up some chick he met in Palestine and letting his kid get nailed to some boards, even if we're told the kid walked it off three days later.

But here's what I was thinking, thinking in terms of my cat.  See, a lot of people--and I don't like or approve of this, it's just something I know happens--a lot of people will get a baby pet, I mean a puppy or a kitten (usually), especially around this time of year, because baby mammals are almost invariably cute and cuddly and so, so, so precious when they're stumbling around or rehearsing grown-animal behaviors that might be menacing if their armament was fully developed (e.g. kittens are so cute chewing on a hand while rabbit-kicking the wrist that it's hard to remember not to encourage them because cats doing the same thing will draw an awful lot of blood).

I happen to like adult animals, too; but lots of people don't, is the thing.  So they adopt these precious little infant whatevers, not even thinking about whether they'll want an adult animal around the home in a year or two.  This gets especially bad when you're talking about a puppy that might be no bigger than a gerbil and appears to be all head when it's just opened its eyes and ends up being a hundred pounds of fighting dog post-puberty and now appears to be all jaws and shoulder.  And a lot of people adopt a wee animal who aren't up for the tasks of coping with a well-behaved adult, and the really bad thing here is that these are usually the same people who don't have the wherewithal to train an animal to be well-behaved adult, so the problem ends up raised exponentially; they can't understand why their cute little puppy or kitten grew up to destroy every article of furniture or clothing in sight and then they inadvertently do all the wrong things that lead to a slightly-feral, mildly insane ravager of personal property.

They shouldn't be allowed to have pets, but what are you going to do to stop them?  You can't, except to maybe get word out and remind everyone that little animals grow up to be big animals.  And here's a Christmastime message for you, which is that pets make lousy gifts, okay?

But you're wondering what this has to do with manna, etc., right?  Or you've already figured it out.

Here's my theory, which I don't really believe because I'm an atheist, but it's hella fun to think about: God's one of those shitty pet owners I was just talking about.

So He gets us when we're little and cute, right?  And maybe you're thinking the barbaric, warlike ancient Israelites were hardly what we'd call "cute"--well, sure, but what do we know?  We're not thinking about it from the God POV, and anyway we ought to assume that if cats and dogs had the necessary self-consciousness to be as embarrassed by their awkward childhoods as humans are, they would be.

Like I was saying, He got us while we were young and cute.  Fed us, watered us, took us for forty-day walks through the desert.  Now and again he'd get mad and hit Sodom and Gomorrah with rolled-up newspapers or fire and brimstone or whatever.  And everything is grand for a coupla thousand years or whatever.

Only, y'know, we grow up.

And, like one of those adorable puppies that somehow makes an ugly dog, we're not so cute anymore.

Or maybe it's not even quite just that, but that He finds us a horrible pain in the ass as we get bigger and more demanding.  We're tearing up the furniture more and more.  We bark all night.  We bite strangers.  We shit on His nice things.  We require more attention and He has less time to give it in.

So, y'know, finally, one day, He takes us to a park, takes us off the leash, and manages to wander away while we're sniffing things.  And we've never seen Him since.

This doesn't have to be a strictly theological scenario, of course.  I mean, maybe this version of God isn't exactly a quote-unquote "divine" being as He is one of those godlike beings Captain Kirk was always outsmarting on Star Trek back in the day.  He's an extraterrestrial, extradimensional, so-advanced-His-tech-looks-like-magic creature.  He's Yog-Sothoth with a soft spot for lesser species.  He's a higher-dimensioned intelligence cross-sectioning a lower-dimensional universe, his four or five or nineteen dimensions appearing as a three-dimensional fire-tower emanating from nowhere when it intersects our spherical plane.

Or maybe He's just from outer space, that simple. 

I mean, think about my cat again (or your own pet): I pick Elvis up, carry him across the room and put him down on top of something--booyah!  Magic teleport!  Flight!  How did I do that? he's thinking.  I open a bag of kitty treats--Elvis has no thumbs, the ziploc bag is an eternal enigma to him, but I produced something from nothing.

God is good.
Here's YHWH opening a crumfoddle of Zwiggliziggles for Moses, and Moses is in awe because he can't open crumfoddlia because he doesn't have vergolmoggles on the ends of his porcodornms; much less can Moses comprehend that you can get Zwiggliziggles for vlermfoodles at any neighborhood xerxiblumble, six for the Vlitz on special this quiggle only.  Moses knows as much about that as my cat knows his Fancy Feast is sixty cents a can and all you have to do is pop the lid with the ring tab.

No, I'm not getting all deistic of a sudden.  It's just a fun thing to think about, and I (sort of) regret any offense I might have caused, but the idea that the truth behind the driving monotheistic mythology of our era is that God is a really crappy pet owner who misguidedly brought us home and then was too irresponsible to take care of us and decided we were ugly and gross and why couldn't we have stayed adorable Bronze Age savages forever? is something that makes me giggle.  And if you'd like to focus on the serious bit in the middle there and pretend this never happened, fine: no pets for Christmas, they're critters, not presents.  And if you just have to give someone an animal for a special occasion, Heifer is a gift that will keep on giving to people who'll appreciate and need it.




2 comments:

Dana Teel Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 10:24:00 AM EST  

Well said Eric, it sort of made me giggle too. Give Elvis a chin scratch from me will ya?

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