Tuesday’s Thoughts: I am Grumpy Cat

Continuing my somewhat heretical exploration of scripture by doing artwork right into the Bible and by responding in Haiku. I found that I was Grumpy Cat today. So I went with it. Side note, I have encountered a lot of people that are more than a little disturbed by the way I am using this Bible. I do hold the Bible to be sacred to me however I resist idolizing it. And as you would see reading Joshua, it's all about killing in the name of God. That calls for resisting and pushing against the text.

Yesterday, our resident skeptic, James Cowles, and I were talking online about the way scripture is treated today and in historicity. We both drive through the enlightenment and observe these two things:

  • The enlightenment allowed people to begin to move away from scripture and allows some to place what they read in the wider context of the advancement of thinking about science, etc. And this then means that the God of the mainline church is a far cry from the God of the pre-enlightenment church. That is James' point (correct me if I'm wrong).
  • The enlightenment also allowed people to start seeing science really begin to thrive. And it was the beginning of formulaic thinking. We see it and test it, therefore it is true. For me, this is where fundamental literalism is rooted. We see the words, we test it by seeing God "wipe out sinful Florida in a hurricane," therefore, God's word is true. Fundamentalism was at its peak in the early 1900's.  John Wesley was a man of the "high enlightenment" (I'm Methodist, so Wesley's my dude). He veered away from fundamentalism and literalism and started doing what I am doing...he began marking up his Bible and changing the translation. I wish I could find the photo I've seen of his mark-ups but alas, I didn't save it when I should have.

I think we are both right. The enlightenment is the root of two divergent branches of thinking.

Anyhoo...here's my haiku, "art", and notes on Joshua. I am already regretting choosing Joshua to read, by the way. But I'll get through it! I'm a nasty woman. 😉  If you want to follow the daily postings of my thoughts (although they are not as thorough as they are here), you can find me on Instagram. I'm @cloakedmonk.

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Laid out on the curb

Fragile necks exposed to prey

No survivors left

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Joshua 9–10

There are  interesting things hidden in these two chapters that are mainly about death and destruction in the name of God.

First, we have the folks from Gibeon. They trick Israel, Joshua, into an alliance by pretending to be people from far away. Joshua makes the alliance with them before he realizes what’s happening and before he prays or takes it to God.

When he realizes what has happened, and he still upholds the alliance. This leads to more war.

Then we have the very strange versus: “Sun standstill at Gibeon! And moon at the Aijalon Valley! The sun stood still and the moon stood motionless until he nation took revenge on its enemies. Isn’t this written in the Jashar scroll? The sun stood motionless in the middle of the sky for a whole day it was in no hurry to go down. 10.12-14

From Jewish virtual library: BOOK OF JASHAR (Heb. סֵפֶר הַיָּשָׁר, Sefer ha-Yashar; "the upright [one]'s book"), one of the lost source books of early Israelite poetry.

In my beginning days as a literal fundamentalist, people did gymnastics to do math that proved that the earth stood still one day Interrupting the natural cycles of the world.

Anyway we have a lot of death and killing, weird things happening in the sky, and an unholy alliance is formed! Sounds like the plot to a really interesting movie.

Also I would like to note that they execute the Kings that are coming against Joshua by having them lay down in the streets and putting their foot on their necks. That is one method of gangland killings. The enemy lays with their head on the curb in a street and someone stands with their foot on the neck and stomps down and snaps of her neck. If you want to see what this looks like, the movie American X has a graphic portrayal.

I think the only thing I can come up for leadership is these folks from Gibeon. Sometimes you have to go under cover to survive. That is something we as #queer folk know. I would encourage those of us who can pass, to remember everyone who cannot pass and is oppressed.  It is tiring to be undercover all the time. But at least it is safe in the worst of situations. Be #intersectional.

Note on my “artwork.” I have been saving this grumpy cat washi tape for just this type of Scripture. Everyone is killed. Men women and children. That sucks. And it is in our religious heritage. We have to own that.

#bible #joshua #poetry #leadership #leaders #haiku  #umc #christianity #poet  #pnwumc #scripture #gonzaga #seattle #moral #ethics

16 Comments

  • Ah good … found this again … my comment, which I previously posted elsewhere:

    I think it fundamentally misconceives the relationship between the Enlightenment and pre-Enlightenment thinking to say that the Enlightenment led to “formulaic thinking” — unless you equate “formulaic thinking” with “reason” and “scientific method”. The former and the latter 2 are polar opposites.

    My position is that the Enlightenment drove to the surface the conflict between the 2 and forced European culture to deal with it. The conflict had been festering since at least the 1500s, probably since the printing press made it possible for the public to read (the Bible and other texts) and to increase the literacy rate in Europe.

    Two Enlightenment principles were radically incompatible with the old ideology, neither of which I would describe as at all “formulaic”: (1) you can think for yourself via your own autonomous reason (granted, developing this faculty will probably require training, hence universities); (2) the ultimate arbiter is reproducible, publicly examinable evidence. It is quite possible to have all kinds of personal, idiosyncratic irruptions of personal insight (e.g., Pascal’s “FIRE” experience, my experience at my father-in-law’s funeral) that are personally transformative. But absent evidence, such experiences do not justify public, least of all normative belief.

    “Formulaic thinking,” properly so called, would point to one individual experience or statement and say that personal experience was mandatory for everyone just on the strength of the experience alone (e.g., Lourdes, the Resurrection, etc.) and taking the description of the experience at plain-text face value.

    BTW for some reason I can’t find your original (and latest, I think) post on this.

    GAWD THIS IS GREAT!!!! I MISS LIKE HELL DOING THIS IN REAL TIME IN A CLASSROOM!!!!

    • I think this is my latest post! You’re on the right spot.

      So, hear me out. The scientific method has led to a version (perverted) of enlightenment thinking that can be summarized in the current stupidity around climate change “it’s only a theory, it’s not fact.” Because they think gravity is a fact and probably don’t even think about Einstein. And the way we teach scientific method in schools is pretty shoddy. It becomes the formula, do this, expect that. That is the fundamentalist perversion of enlightenment.

      One of the challenges is that the mass multitudes during the enlightenment weren’t really able to access it. It was very much a thing of the upper classes, isn’t that true? I’m open for correction. But the dudes in the bar that John Wesley was so concerned about were only worried about getting paid, going home, and sleeping it off. 🙂

      Remembering that earlier forms of Judaism and Christianity were deeply metaphorical. Read Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Parker’s Saving Paradise. The enlightenment removed the metaphor from religion, at least by the time the fundamentalists got their hands on it. Scientific method. Dude on TV – Pat Robertson? He does it all the time in his twisted fantasy. Too many queers in California! God sent a drought. Even though we totally know that is stupid, egregious, false, and dare I say, Satanic.

      • I agree … but that’s like saying Christianity is bad because a lot of people used it to justify slavery. Not fair to either Christianity or the Enlightenment. What is much more consistent with the Enlightenment is, e.g., Pascal saying “The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me” or J. B. S. Haldane saying “The Universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we CAN imagine”. Or any of Carl Sagan’s meditations on the “Pale Blue Dot”. Properly understood and practiced, the Enlightenment is a gateway to drool-inducing wonder and awe. But you can’t blame the Enlightenment for bad pedagogy.

  • E.g., an Enlightenment person would ask “What empirical, reproducible, publicly examinable evidence leads you to conclude that hurricane Michael was God’s punishment for FL’s allegedly gay-friendly culture?” “And does your gay-punishment theory PREDICT a hurricane hitting San Francisco, San Jose, and Venice Beach? And Fire Island in NYC? If not, why?”

      • Actually no … Robertson is an example of the Enlightenment poorly taught. Pascal, Haldane, and Sagan of the Enlightenment well taught. Just as pro-slavery was Christianity poorly taught. Again don’t blame the Enlightenment for poor pedagogy.

          • Then your argument is with Luther and the fundamentalists, not with Pascal, Haldane, & Co. Any ideology, however benevolent, can be perverted. I’ll bet you don’t blame Muhammad for the 9/11 hijackers.

          • Luther wasn’t exactly a fundamentalist in his time. Me looking back he is but during the time he was heretical. Teaching people to think for themselves and not trust the priests word on it.

            So this is like purity politics to me. Not all enlightenment products are purely good.

    • I’m not saying that you’re wrong in that they are different, just that they are rooted in the same initial thought process. We don’t teach philosophy any more which is what we need to do badly. Also, teach thinking.

      • Again, no, the thought processes couldn’t be more different. Pre-Enlightenment thought explicitly denigrated reason;’Enlightenment thought recognized reason as fallible but efrective (e.g., Aquinas and that was in the mid-13th century). Prior to that it was predominantly Augustinian. Luther was an Augustinian monk, after all who always inveighed against “the whore Reason”.

        • You are still attached to the purity thinking around the enlightenment when it is not all that especially for minoritized populations.

          The enlightenment gave permission for 1910 style fundamentalists to take root.

        • I don’t think it is fair to say that the enlightenment taught people to think for themselves, which is what Luther was partly trying to do, (and he was at the very beginning of the enlightenment) and then to say “except for these cases where I don’t like the conclusions that they are coming to and the way they have used the enlightenment to create bad bad thought”.

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