Thursday, December 5, 2013

One of the glories of our governmental system, I always thought, was that those who served did so out of a desire to help their fellow beings, and not for fame, loot, or power. I had in mind Washington and Jefferson, aristocrats who devoted themselves to a noble cause; Lincoln the self-made man who ruined (and lost) his life serving others; and a host of other figures whose creed was to serve. It didn't bother me too much that the Brahmins in office usually regarded those they helped as being little better than peasants. Their vision was still one in which the populace, the unwashed, the proles, hoi polloi, were still bettering themselves.
I would contrast this vision with the reality of government in other countries, when political office was the key to the bank, and corruption was the rule. The people? Let them eat cake.
I guess, though, that we are catching up to the rest of the world. I am a resident of the state of Utah, based on a set of governmental postulates (in turn based on a set of religious postulates) which make service to one's fellow beings the highest calling one can have. One of the state's highest elected officials may be, in blunt terms, a crook who sold influence and shielded the very people he should have been putting in jail. He resigned just ahead of a lynch mob, but waited long enough to be sure he got his pension funded.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bible City musings

Utah, or Salt Lake City, or maybe Mayberry, has been designated "Bible City" for 2013. To celebrate this, a group of dignitaries and other high-minded people gathered in the rotunda of the capitol (I think) to read passages from the Bible. I wasn't invited, and didn't attend, but you can be sure that the passages read from the Bible were all 1) very familiar, 2) uplifting, and 2) G-rated.
The truth is that of the 1590 pages in my version of the Bible, only about 50, total, are worth reading or something you'd let your kids look at.
Let's suppose for a minute that I were invited to the read-a-thon in the rotunda, I think it would be nice to read something that really represents the spirit of the Bible. Here are my selections, both from the Book of Numbers:

11:1 And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.

21:2 And Israel vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then, I will utterly destroy their cities.
     3 And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.

Some interesting things here. In the first selection, there is the puzzling fact that only the "uttermost" parts of the camp were burnt. That shows, clearly, I think, the danger of living in the suburbs.
In the second section, the King of the country that the Israelites were travelling through took some of them captive. The gall of the man!  I am assuming, by the way, that the they and the them in verse three refer to the Israelites and Canaanites respectively.

These two typify the Old Testament much more exactly than "The Lord is my shepherd." The whole Old Testament is a dreary parade of murder, rape, genocide, slavery, and brutality, interspersed with excruciatingly tedious genealogies.