May 8, 2010

Things to Resent God For

Creating people who have trouble with a certain kind of temptation, then putting that exact temptation right in front of them FOR NO REASON AT ALL. Then punishing them PERMANENTLY for giving in to the temptation, and not just them but ALL FUTURE GENERATIONS. I wouldn't do that to my kids. Can you imagine? "Hey, Elizabeth, I'm going to put this box of SUPER SECRET AWESOMENESS here on the table right in front of you, but don't touch it! I could have put it somewhere else and never mentioned it, but instead I will put it in the middle of the living room and tell you repeatedly that you can do anything you want EXCEPT play with this box, this wondrous wondrous box. Now I'm going to turn my back and switch on this video camera. ...You touched the box? Then I'm kicking you out of the house, and your kids and grandkids can't ever visit either!" And all this in, like, the first five minutes after humans were created. Creation: FAIL.

The thing with Job, where God got into a pissing contest with a former employee and killed all Job's kids. But he gave Job NEW kids after proving his point, so THAT'S okay. Compensation: FAIL. Why not bring the dead kids back, since that was ENTIRELY POSSIBLE?

The whole Noah's Ark thing, which is for some reason considered a cute nursery theme. Aw, two of every animal, the only two who weren't wiped off the earth by God's tantrum! Adorbs!

Some little kids call Elisha bald, so God sends bears to rip them to shreds. Er? Proportionate discipline: FAIL.

All the TESTS and TRICKS. Geez, a person could get JUMPY with all the set-ups. Touch the ark totally by accident? SMITE! Express doubt that someone who leads people for 40 years aimlessly through a desert knows where he's going? EXCLUDE! Follow the rules set down by God himself in the Old Testament? PUBLIC SHAMING BY JESUS!

All the "women are soooooooo unclean" things. Yes, IF ONLY SOMEONE HAD CREATED THEM DIFFERENTLY, huh?

OMG, all the "virgins as loot of battle" crap. Totally God-sanctioned! Take the girls for your own pleasure, as many as you want! But only the virgins, because Used Girls are ICKY! Kill those ones, ew.

How hard is it to set down some consistent rules? Seriously. If something is forbidden, say so don't pussyfoot around with arch hints and contradictory statements and tiny little mentions and inconsistent anecdotes. We have ONE MANUAL, and it needs a MUCH better writer.

"I'll call you," followed by more than 2000 years of waiting by the phone.

106 comments:

Kate said...

I love you, Swistle. This post is awesome.

Marie Green said...

I think I'm keening over here, I'm laughing so hard. But see, I woke up w/o a voice, so I sound extra-REDICK and my husband is still sleeping in bed bedside me, but I want to wake him and make him read this.

Recently, one of our very good friend just wrote a letter to the editor of our paper- our Tiny Town paper- in response to one of the "Pastor's Corner" articles. He wrote how claiming that resurrection was "fact" was in fact bastardizing the word "fact" and confusing people as to which parts of our history were fact and which were not.

I thought for SURE his home would be torched and he would be driven out of town. But the response was actually not that bad.

Anyway, I'm at a religious cross-roads right now, so none of this stuff bugs me. Meaning, I don't get caught up in whether or not the bible is "true".

donna said...

Girl, you crack me up. This is great.

Jessica said...

I have come to the conclusion that it's more "Things to Resent the Stupid Humans Who Interpreted God and Wrote Shit Down and Then Spent Thousands of Years Trying To Get Other Humans To Violently Bend To Their Will For."

P.S. I love you.

Farrell said...

Your last line is my favorite.

Farrell said...

You know what else I hate? When people say "God never gives you more than you can handle." Yes He does! All the time! My friend's neighbors just lost two children in two months to the same rare, genetic disease. Can you imagine? Sure, maybe the parents are still ALIVE, but just living is different from surviving, you know what I mean? I really don't know how one comes out of something like that.

Amyella said...

One of my favorite-ist posts!!

Sarah said...

I basically agree with Jessica. I too have had every single one of the thoughts you listed above, as well as several others- example: Abraham nearly sacrificing Isaac just to prove his fidelity?!
I spent years in Baptist churches and school, and though I've had various stories and event sequences explained to me in all kinds of various ways, in the end I've just kind of shelved the whole Old Testament business. I find Psalms and Ecclesiastes comforting because they kind of reflect the same confusion and frustration and elation I often feel re: spiritual faith. The rest of it I have kind of come to view as a strange oral history that I can only assume got BADLY mangled over time. Either that, or some people were SERIOUSLY taking some liberties interpreting God's voice and will. Which certainly hasn't stopped happening over time, as we know.
I still believe in God, and I believe in Jesus. I have a hard time believing that every word of the Bible is literal truth, though. And I am just heretical enough to think I can still call myself a Christian, despite years of having people drill into me that "every word is inspired" and that you can't pick and choose what to believe out of the Bible or you might as well chuck it all out the window. That seems a bit militant and frankly unreasonable to me. I must believe that every word of the Bible is literal truth because... the BIBLE says it is? HMMMM.
I guess I have come to the conclusion that God is much bigger than a book.

Lindsay said...

The whole, everyone who believes in God is such an idiot schtick is so lame. If belief in God gets some people through life how is that a bad thing? Jihadists are nuts, clearly. But extremists in any vein are, usually. Perhaps your post is just a whimsical bit about how taking the bible literally, would reveal God to be kind of a jerk but it's the kind of post that invites commenters to just have at 'er and sure enough, mocking the resurrection of Jesus Christ comes up a few comments in. I love most of what you write, but unlike the first few comments this is not my favorite post.

Bethsix said...

I'm with you. And Farrell. And pretty much all the other commenters, except cranky people. Mwah.

Erin said...

This post is so full of awesomeness I don't even know where to start. The "women are so unclean" part hahahaha! So funny.

Nicole said...

Yeah, forty years wandering the desert...not cool.

Theresa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
d e v a n said...

There is quite a bit of "messed up" with organized religion, but, basically I agree with Sarah.

Sylvie said...

This made me laugh!

Marie Green said...

Farrell- people used to tell me that all the time when I was pregnant with twins, and then when I was pregnant a 2nd time and hoping it wasn't twins again. "God doesn't give you more than you can handle."

Well, thanks for the comforting words- and yes I COULD "handle" twins again- but I want to do more in my life than "handle" things. I want to be happy and learn things and go places and thrive and be fulfilled... not just "handle" my life.

Theresa said...

I really like and agree with Sarah's comment, but that said, this post just made me laugh because I can't even count how many times those same thoughts have crossed my mind.

sara said...

Just another reason for me to think, "Isn't Swistle dreamy?!"

Mairzy said...

I've asked God for His comments on most of these things, but haven't really gotten much of an answer.

Some I'm willing to grant belongs to an older, more violent time when blood, sacrifice, and war were part of life. Some reminds me that while I learned that the Bible was basically Handed Down In King James Version From God, it actually was written and collected over a few thousand years, so it's jumbled together. And some... well, some I just plain don't understand and it is bothersome.

However, since realizing how much I don't understand about my own God, it at least reminds me how much I don't even understand about my own world and the other humans around me. It was hard getting my self-sufficient worldview kicked out from under me, but I can't say that's been a bad thing.

-- Mairzy

CAQuincy said...

OMGoodness--I love you!

Anonymous said...

An alternative scenario: The tempting little treat sitting there within reach of God's first children wasn't a little box of awesomeness but a little box of death, isolation, sin, and despair. And while God could have kept that box out of the reach of His children, it would have been at the price of their humanity. A bird or a squirrel could have eaten the fruit of that tree but there's no indication that God would have condemned them for it. They have no rational capacity to choose between good and evil. Cows aren't evil, but they aren't particularly good either. But humans are both. Without the option to rebel against God, humans would have remained innocent forever, but innocence is such a precarious position to be in. It couldn't have lasted long. In His foresight, God had a better end in mind. Is it so bad that God kicked them out of the Garden and wouldn't let them or their offspring back in? After all, there was a snake in that garden. Now, I've often wondered, if there were two children playing in a garden, how could the Gardener let a snake in? I don't think there is an easy answer to that question, but on one level, God chose to involve humans in the process of destroying evil. He kicked them out of the garden, where the was a temptation and a tempter, because He had already begun the preparations for a City where we would not just be innocent of evil, but conquerors over it. As we know from our children, innocence is such a precarious position to be in. There are so many ways to fall, so many ways for innocence to vanish. God did alienate us from himself, but let's not forget who's fault that is. But now, he has provided a road to reconciliation.

And as for the phone call... isn't the fact that you resent God proof that he is there? Isn't your disgust of the Bible proof of it's power? A young person in love isn't passionately disgusted by the lies of email spammers, but even the smallest suspicion of a slight untruth by their lover will produce the most horrible reaction.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- Ha ha ha! And would you say your response to my post is PROOF OF ITS POWER AND TRUTH? I'm disgusted by the lies of email spammers, too!

Anonymous said...

We're all disgusted by spammers to some degree, but they are simply an annoyance. My point was that we don't usually get all emotionally worked up and resentful towards the spammers because we expect them to lie and deceive. If we feel that we've been lied to or deceived by the prophets and apostles who claimed to be writing with the authority of God himself, I think that is in a different category.

As for my response being proof of your post's power and truth, I think you make a good point. There are a million and one different motivations out there to explain why you responded to the claims of the Bible as you did and why I responded to your claims as I did. I won't try to guess what is going on in your heart, but I can tell you why I responded to your post as I did.

First, I would say that your post had some power and some truth in it. Otherwise, I probably would have just ignored it. My main motivation for responding, though, was that I don't think you are responding to an accurate portrayal of Christianity, particularly regarding it's teachings on why the human race's fellowship with God has been broken. You can certainly read Genesis as well as I can, but the awesomeness wasn't hidden in a box. It was out in the open, everywhere for them to see in the paradise that they were in and in their relationships with each other and with God. God wasn't spitefully withholding the best stuff from them just to make them suffer. The story presents itself in the opposite manner. Life and goodness were there for the taking. Evil and suffering were hidden in the box. Evil and suffering were what they had to go out of their way to get at, even in direct disobedience to God. (I know that I've gone out of my way at times to get at some evil and suffering simply because I demanded to do things my own way.) God warned not to eat the forbidden fruit because that would lead to a loss of what was good. It was not an arbitrary punishment for having more fun than God wanted them to have.

Mary said...

BEST POST EVER!

Swistle said...

Anonymous-

1. People OFTEN get all worked up about spammers, and even write whole posts on them.

2. Why would the lies of God's prophets and apostles be in a different category from the lies of spammers?

3. Why put the box in the garden at all, no matter what is in it? He knew they'd open it immediately, because he made them that way. It was a set-up, dude. Paul got mad at me when I tried to show him via a set-up that he didn't mind skim milk after all.

4. What do you mean, "my claims"? These are the Bible's claims. The Bible is reporting that God allowed the rape of virgins, the devouring of children by bears, etc.

5. Why are you anonymous?

6. Seriously, the things you're saying are why I left Christianity. There is a rationalization for EVERYTHING. God can DEMAND THE RAPE OF VIRGINS and it's just a-okay because he is so incredibly awesome we can't possibly understand him. If the ONLY BOOK WE HAVE for Christianity is full of CRAZINESS, then, well, God must Have His Reasons. Berserk, dude. We'd never stand for a political candidate who tried to pull this crap. But the God of our imaginations? Sure!

jonniker said...

HA HA HA. OMFG. Swistle. I love you. I love your balls and your response to Anonymous. "We'd never stand for a political candidate who tried to pull this crap!"

And yet we (the royal we) SUPPORT political candidates who use this nonsense to prove their own completely skewed points. HA HA HA. It's funny and also sad.

I'm pretty tolerant, religion-wise. But I'm YOOGE into separation of church and state, and my own religious beliefs fall in the "No Christianity, Thank you" spectrum and don't even get me started that I personally believe it's all a riff off of a pagan myth (because, uhh, it is).

I know people think I'm wrong, and that's okay. But man, Bible literalists really get my balls in a tangle.

Anonymous said...

Swistle, I left Christianity too... but I am with Lindsay in my opinion that this post is basically just inviting commenters to go berserk. Religion is so important to so many people. Why write this post? Why now? Are you just trying to upset some of your readers or do you derive some personal benefit out of mocking a religion you admit you've left? If you are going to write an inflammatory post, please at least be open-minded enough to refrain from mocking the few intrepid souls who dare put their own beliefs out there just like you did. Nine commenters out of ten declare their undying love for you and the one who questions you gets ridiculed. UNSUBSCRIBE.

Swistle said...

Anonymous, by which I mean the second anonymous- Answering a questioning commenter is "mocking"? What is it you'd like me to do? Ignore her? Is that the open-minded thing to do?

Joanne said...

I think this is an interesting post, and well written, as usj, but it seems limited. I've been thinking about it today. I think there are lots of good things in the Bible, too. There's 'love one another', and 'before I made you I knew you', etc. These are not perfect quotes, but I am not a big Bible person.

It seems so complicated to me, just like life. It does seem like there are ridiculous consequences to tiny actions in the Bible, but that's also true in life, right?

bluedaisy said...

I don't necessarily agree with every part of this post but I think I get the gist of it. Obviously, people are free to agree or disagree in their comments. And the author of the post is free to respond to commenters. I find it kind of funny when people complain about responses to their comments...if you put your beliefs out there, you can expect a variety of reactions. Stand firm in your own beliefs but realize that not everyone feels the way you do. Healthy debate can be a good thing...Logic tells us that the valid arguments support your ideas/beliefs and avoid attacking the other person.

bluedaisy said...

PS: I don't think that Swistle ridiculed anyone in her responses...but that's just my opinon!

Jodi said...

AMEN! :D

Superjules said...

What about how unicorns were excluded from he ark? WHY? WHYYYYYYY?

Anne said...

Oh, this made me laugh So Hard, I had to run and get my wife and read it to her.

AMEN! :D

Bethtastic said...

I'm a Christian.

I disagree with you. But, it's your blog, write what you wish.

It does seem a little strange to single out one religion for mocking.

Anonymous said...

I'm going anonymous only to prevent the crazies from following me to my own space, but I wanted to say that a lot of this is Old Testament stuff and frankly, I'm not sure I'm an Old Testament gal. I think of my self as Jesus person. I KNOW there are all the arguments about how the God of Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, but Jesus himself? WAY different.

So that's my random, weird two cents.

Stimey said...

A bold post! But awesome!!

Kristi said...

Oh, I love you. I love you. I love you.

C said...

I agree with Bethtastic. Your blog so it is up to you what you post but it seems out of the blue and just mean. I've read when you have been so upset if you hear someone mocking another persons choice but here you are doing just that.

Melissa said...

Have to agree with C up there (who I guess agrees with Bethtastic). I specifically remember you NOT bringing up something you had seen in the newspaper (editorials, maybe?) because you have your opinion, and others have theirs and what good would arguing about it do? You wouldn't even say what the issue was because you didn't want arguing in the comments, if I remember correctly.

It DOES seem out of the blue. I was pretty sure you aren't religious, but this just seems...so UNlike the Swistle I like.

And honestly? It's a little disheartening to see how many people agree with you. Do you think the people who believe in God, in Christianity are stupid? Because that's sort of how it comes across.

Jess said...

Wow. What does your mom think of this post?!

Carmen said...

OMG, Swistle, I love you. That is all.

Swati said...

I had exactly the same problems with my religion when I was a teenager: totally unjust, arbitrary and very 'wordly' stuff happening all over, so I just gave it all up. Including God. Now I am finally ok with the concept of God as such, but that is the universal almighty, not just in any one religion. Beyond that, its all human. You know, man created god in his own image?

Swistle said...

Bethtastic- It's the only religion I'm familiar with; I can't really talk about other religions because I don't know anything about them. And I'm not mocking it. I'm making what I think are good points, but in a light way (like with the FAIL language of blogging). I'm not sure what there is to disagree with. Like, are you saying you disagree that God killing a bunch of children was overdoing it? Or are you saying you disagree that these things are in the Bible?

Anonymous- I getcha. And there are some Christian denominations that basically just focus on the New Testament. I dated a boy in college whose church was sort of like, "The Old Testament was...um. But the New Testament is the stuff!"

C- I really truly don't see how this is "mocking," and definitely I'm not mocking anyone's CHOICES---well, okay, I'm disagreeing with GOD'S choices to, for example, instruct his followers to rape virgins, but how is that mocking another person's choices?

Melissa- Dude, what I think of Christians isn't part of the post. It's what I think of God as he's represented in the Bible. As far as I know (from over 20 years of being a Christian), these items aren't up for argument: even Christians have trouble with these parts of the Bible and agree that they're problems.

Jess- I wrote it in a way I hoped wouldn't bother her. She and I talk about this stuff periodically. She agrees it's a problem. I mean, who wouldn't? God kills a group of little kids for teasing someone's baldness? I assume Christians don't just blindly say, "Well, God did it, so it's fine! If a child mocks MY baldness, I'll slaughter him too!" I assume they are thinking, reasoning people who eventually have to shrug and say, "Well, I don't get it, but there it is."

Beth said...

the universise is infinite and almost all of it undiscoverd and completely unkown. it amazes me that for so many the bible, (or any other religious text written by HUMANS) explains the mysteries of the world and provides the map for their morality.

it seems limiting to me, and also corrupt.

Buster said...

Heh. Love.

Elizabeth said...

Yeah - there is plenty of crazy, cruel, impossible-to-understand stuff in the Bible - especially the Old Testament.

So many people (in America especially, if I may so) who have been exposed to Christianity, have been exposed to the "every word of the Bible is literally true version." However, most biblical scholars who have been well trained (not the kind who went to your local Bible college) would have a different view - a view that takes into account oral histories, difference in genre, ANE culture, textual criticism and a whole lot of other things that I can't claim to comprehend.

Probably none of them would think that the Garden of Eden/fruit/snake/Eve thing really happened the way it is recorded in Genesis. The ancient Hebrew used for those first 11 chapters, btw, is a very different kind of language than is used for - say, Nehemiah.

So, yeah - I get what you are saying in your post. However, just because something is recorded in a certain way, doesn't mean God is giving it a seal of approval: descriptive, not prescriptive.

Most honest Christians would admit there is piles of stuff in the Bible they can't begin to understand or defend.

I don't know much about all this but it is very sad if the 'mis-represented crazy part' drives someone away from the 'hope and love part' that is personified in Jesus.

Love your blog, Swistle.

Angie said...

Hugs Swistle.

Sam said...

Dude. I starting to read the post written after this first, then read this post, then that post. And I'm still confused and really thinking "Fuck them with a stick" if they are so offended by your post. Or two sticks, if I think that is needed. Very big sticks with thorns.

Jan said...

I can't believe anyone would get too worked up about this post. I thought it was quite funny and clever. Something I would have thought up, if only I had the energy.

Having been brought up as a Christian, I have to say that my understanding of the New Testament is that it was meant to replace (or at least supercede) the Old Testament, which was a covenant between God and his people (the Jews). When Jesus died for our sins, the old testament was wiped away and we entered into a new covenant with God, in which belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God is the requirement for entering heaven.

And I think there's quite a bit in the New Testament about loving each other and being Christ-like. Maybe the so-called Christians out there should focus on these concepts a bit more instead of having such thin skins about details that don't matter very much.

But that's my understanding of what Christians are supposed to believe, not my own actual beliefs anymore.

Beth A. said...

In my years on the Internet, it's been fairly common for me to encounter obnoxious atheists who like to point out flaws in religions as a way of making fun of the believers of those religions. Clearly, you're not one of those people, but since most of us haven't known you your whole life and don't know any of the things about your religious upbringing you just wrote (to be honest, from the things you've written before, I had assumed you were raised by fundamentalists), I think the default when reading things pointing out flaws in religion is to assume your motives are in line with the obnoxious atheists. And a lighthearted tone when seen through that lens becomes mocking. I'm glad to know you're not, because it seems so unlike you.

2Forgetful said...

This is an awesome post and shows what a clever, funny writer you are. I can't believe people get so sensitive about stuff. I didn't bother to read the comments but was saddened by your 5/9 post.

This is the type of post that keeps me coming back every day. AND, I forwarded to a bunch of my non-bloggy friends and now a whole bunch of THEM are going to start reading you. So, even if you lost one or two, I'm betting you GET a bunch more people.

Hope you're having a good Mother's Day!

Ginny said...

I first read your recent post, there was no comments allowed. Sorry you had to deal with all that, this post is so true! I'm Atheist & have found you cannot say anything negative about Religion at all, EVER! People will come out fighting you for it. I think because the stories make so little sense, Christians have to really fight anyone that disagrees. It keeps them too busy to realize how absurd their religion is.

You didn't have to say that Christians are dumb or that you are mocking them. I think they get it so much, any type of "negative" comment is assumed by them to mean that. It is all a shame.

I myself enjoyed your post, hope to see more like it! I've been a long time reader of yours, even though I hardly comment. I will be reading even more then ever though after this post. If you lose some readers, don't even stress about it. No loss to you!!!

Angella said...

I read this post and chose not to comment because I was a little offended. But it's your site and you can say what you want and, so.

But then I read your current post and just had to say something.

I'm a Christian and yes I joke about stuff that seems out of whack but...I also try to find out if there's a bigger story behind it all. Have you read "Disappointment with God" by Philip Yancey? Explains the book of Job.

I think the reason that I get so testy when people write posts like this is because like you said, we don't know the whole picture.

(Side note: I've read the Bible in its entirety a number of times and don't remember any God-sanctified pillage of virgins. That goes against His very nature.)

Plus, there are infinitely more scriptures that talk about how fiercely God love us and adores us and heck, DIED for us.

I also get frustrated that it's perfectly PC to write posts that poke fun at Christianity - this extends far beyond your space here. If the same tone were taken about any other faith, there would be an Internet-wide uproar.

Like I said, I have no problem making jokes with friends about the common faith we share. But reading posts like this one hurt me a little because God has shown me love abundantly. It's like someone picking on a friend of mine, you know?

Jenna said...

I'm a Christian. I didn't comment on this post the first time, because I don't usually comment on anything, but I was dying laughing. "Compensation: FAIL", I love it.

Angella, I get that it's like someone's picking on your friend, but it's more like someone's teasing a friend who did a lot of crazy shit in his college days. I don't know how you can say that just because there are a ton of verses (in the book written by God Himself) about how awesome God is, that that cancels out the stuff about the bears killing the children, you know? I take it with the "I guess I'll understand some day" attitude Swistle mentions. I'd have to be a robot to think that no one can criticize God, when God clearly did stuff that deserves criticism. I might choose not to criticize it because I've chosen this religion and believe that some of the stuff might turn out differently than it seems, but that doesn't mean I think His love cancels out His crazy shit, or makes it's offensive when someone mentions the crazy shit. If He didn't want that stuff in the Bible, He wouldn't have allowed it to be there.

BRash said...

I enjoyed the post, but then I like religious humor a lot. Homer screaming from a plane "Save me Jeebus" still cracks me up. Maybe because I was also raised to think/question/find humor whenever possible? The only thing that worried me was the same as Jess's question. Reading today's post and finding out your mom wouldn't wake up on Mother's Day with an unpleasant surprise makes me fully able to enjoy the post as it was intended :)

wobmat said...

Oh please, it's obvious from Swistle's writing that she has done PLENTY of thinking about this stuff and does not need more education or insight or the touch of Jesus to form the "right" opinion. She knows truly wonderful Christians, she knows theology, (she went to CHRISTIAN COLLEGE, for Christ's sake), etc.

I was not offended in the least, and I am still a devout Christian and have been since I was little. I think she and I probably would agree about a lot of things, were we to discuss them. Christians who get all upset about stuff like this (or feel threatened by it) are the ones who need more education or insight or theology. This would enable them to come to a place of reconciliation of their faith with the real world/history, or it would lead them to reject their faith as immoral, make-believe, ignorant, horrible, useless, whatever.

Why don't some of you offended parties try this? Maybe you are scared that your faith won't stand up under the scrutiny. And what if it doesn't? That's okay, and you're still okay. You're still here and alive and valuable. Your world won't implode. After going to college I came out the other end with my faith modified, but intact, but many people come out the other side rejecting their faith. Self-examination and scrutiny of beliefs is good for all of us. You can still be a Christian if you decide to be after honestly confronting the shitty/wrong/mythical parts of the Bible etc (Swistle didn't even mention evolution!)

Yeah, sometimes people make fun of Christianity in a mean way that isn't deserved, and I've been on the receiving end of that, but here's a fun fact: EVERYTHING SWISTLE SAID IS REALLY IN THE BIBLE! She is not just taking jabs at Christianity because she's a mean liberal atheist who wants to hurt your feelings and thinks you're stupid. Your defensiveness is a veiled symptom of something that you might want to examine further: doubt.

SLynnRo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SLynnRo said...

And to be clear, when I say "beef with" Swistle not being Christian, I mean, its like someone talking shit about your momma. Only you can do it. She shouldn't because she doesn't believe. I can see that side, but still. WHAT I JUST SAID.

SLynnRo said...

Oh Jesus Christ (YES I SAID IT). To get worked up about this post just BLOWS ME AWAY. AWAY! I AM BLOWN THERE. Swistle's not a Christian, so I can see some beef with that. But I've heard these sentiments from many a Christian in my day, and I think they are perfectly reasonable and funny. I've been a Christian, I've been not a Christian. Currently, I'm in the probably not a Christian boat (My status changes frequently), but I think we can all agree, like the commentor above says, this post is more like ribbing a crazy old friend who did some wacky shit in his younger days, but in the end, we still dig.

And yes, THIS THIS THIS:

I don't know how you can say that just because there are a ton of verses (in the book written by God Himself) about how awesome God is, that that cancels out the stuff about the bears killing the children, you know? I take it with the "I guess I'll understand some day" attitude Swistle mentions.

I don't think I believe in God, but I do entertain the possibility that he does exist and I'm just wrong. But I like to think that if he's as awesome as we'd all like to think he is, he'd have a damn sense of humor about himself. We all should too.

(Gah, it deleted my comment, and then posted it twice)

Sam said...

I just want to weigh in with support for Swistle here. I am a Christian, a thinking, questioning Christian. The Bible and I have an uneasy relationship. That can make me feel supremely out of place at times, believe me. And everything Swistle referenced is true - in fact, she impressed me with her knowledge of the Old Testament. (The follow up post explains her familiarity with all of it.) I don't have a problem with her questions, mostly because I could sense a bit of pain behind it all. The God of the Old Testament is very confusing, to be sure, especially if you take the text literally. And many people do.

Also, I just want to say, this is obviously Swistle's background, and she has every, well, right to mock it. She knows it. She has her experiences. It would venture into disrespect if, say, she did the same to Islam. In my opinion, of course.

Kathy said...

Don't worry, Swistle: I'm a Christian and in fact would call myself devout, and I thought the post was really funny and also true. I have trouble with these same things, but the way you said it made them seem funny (like Jenna said, like teasing) instead of distressing the way they usually feel to me, so I actually ended up feeling better. I actually like the way you talk about religion, because the way you talk about it makes it seem real (sorry sorry!), and it makes it seem like a person can be a Christian and still be matter-of-fact and realistic about it. I really do think it's a problem that the "manual" is so hard to understand and that there's been no new edition even after two thousand years. I don't see anything wrong with you saying so, even if you're not a Christian: you obviously know what you're talking about, and you're obviously not vicious.

Jeremy (formerly Anonymous #1) said...

1. People OFTEN get all worked up about spammers, and even write whole posts on them.

I guess my little analogy didn’t work. Moving on…

2. Why would the lies of God's prophets and apostles be in a different category from the lies of spammers?

I’m not trying to distinguish between different categories of lies. I was only trying to say that the subject matter of the lie brings about different reactions from us. A lie about God or about my family evokes a stronger reaction from me than a lie about where to get the best tacos in town.

3. Why put the box in the garden at all, no matter what is in it? He knew they'd open it immediately, because he made them that way. It was a set-up, dude. Paul got mad at me when I tried to show him via a set-up that he didn't mind skim milk after all.

Yeah, my wife had me convinced for a while that skim milk was ok too, but then I started drinking 2% again and realized what I’d been missing. In your set up, you deceived your husband (out of love, of course) but God didn’t deceive Adam and Eve. He told them the truth. It wasn’t until they disbelieved God and believed the lies that trouble came. And again, the box had to be in the garden, otherwise they would not have been able to do what only humans can do, choose what is good over what is evil. Without the box, they would have been God’s slaves or God’s robots, but not responsible persons created in the image of God.

4. What do you mean, "my claims"? These are the Bible's claims. The Bible is reporting that God allowed the rape of virgins, the devouring of children by bears, etc.

I mean your responses to the Bible’s claims that it has failures, tests, tricks, contradictory statements, and basically needs to be re-written.

5. Why are you anonymous?

No particular reason. My wife follows your blog and sent me a link to this post. I found it interesting because you deal with a lot of issues brought up in a book I just finished reading (Till We Have Faces). I don’t spend much time in blog world (I’m always getting in trouble for not having read my wife’s blog), and just posted anonymously instead of figuring out how to do it differently.

6. Seriously, the things you're saying are why I left Christianity. There is a rationalization for EVERYTHING. God can DEMAND THE RAPE OF VIRGINS and it's just a-okay because he is so incredibly awesome we can't possibly understand him. If the ONLY BOOK WE HAVE for Christianity is full of CRAZINESS, then, well, God must Have His Reasons. Berserk, dude. We'd never stand for a political candidate who tried to pull this crap. But the God of our imaginations? Sure!

I’d leave a religion as well if I were just given lame rationalizations for things that seemed to be major problems. With that said, I am one of those Christians who has those stories as part of my belief system. Those specific stories aren’t my complete belief system by any means, but they are part of it, and no, I don’t advocate unjust violence. I don’t think the OT does either. But why shouldn’t God be a little scary at times for us? The craziness of the Bible, I think, is one of the surest proofs that it isn’t the God of our imaginations. I would have imagined a nicer, gentler God.

Kathy said...

Yes, what Sam said! I read it after I left my comment and that's what I was looking for when I was saying even though you're not a Christian it seems okay when you say stuff about Christianity: it's what Sam said about how it's your background and you know it and it's still in your life because of your friends and family. You're not just spouting off with stuff you've heard, you've really studied it and you know this stuff.

Anonymous said...

i don't get why anyone woudl be offended, those parts of the Bible really are problems. it would be offensive if those things weren't true or something, but they're right there in the Bible. how can anyone be offended when someone criticizes something offensive?

Spiff said...

Love you Swistle and I thought your post was hilarious!! Keep up the funny, insightful posts that make me smile every time I read them!!

Neil said...

I found this whole discussion quite interesting. While I can understand the sensitivity towards religious issues, you didn't really say anything in this post that RELIGIOUS scholars haven't been questioning for centuries -- trying to understand the inconsistencies in the Bible. There have been many Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scholars, with a strong belief in their religion, who have re-interpreted the words in the Bible, searching for the hidden meanings -- for instance, the Talmudic scholars who try to understand why God would test Abraham by telling him to kill his own son. How could a good God take such an action? This is not a question only of the modern atheist with a sarcastic bent, but of the truly religious grappling with the word of God.

Other than the fundamentalists, or kids in grade school, does anyone really believe that Adam and Eve really happened?! Rather than seeing this post as a mockery of religion, I saw it as an essential part of the religious tradition -- taking the sacred texts seriously for what it says, and questioning what it means, sometimes even explaining away inconsistencies as moral fables.

Anonymous said...

I read the next post, then came back and read this one. Like Angella, I have read the Bible many times. Angella, the passage you missed is Deuteronemy 22:28. Also, Judges 19:24-25. Also, Numbers 31:15-18. Choosing to overlook something in your good friend's book -- or just not remembering it -- doesn't mean it's not there.

Maya (don't have a blog to link back to, sorry. Love this one, though, Swistle.)

bluedaisy said...

Really, really like Neil's comment!! Sometimes questioning things can enhance faith rather than destroy it...I think that might be why we have reason and intellect.

Shelly said...

I don't like the idea that because God Is Love we have to explain away all the parts of the Bible we don't like, especially if we take the Bible at face value for the love part but go to human-written theories for the bad parts. And especially when so many of the theories are the equivelent of "It was only a dream!" (parables) or "He was a different person then!" (the Old Testament). God is the same yesterday, today, and forever: the God of the Old Testament is the same guy we feel so much love from. He instructed his followers to rip open the stomachs of pregnant women, AND he knew us and loved us in the womb. It's a real problem to get those things together, but I don't think the answer is to just forget about the bad one because it's mean to attack someone we love.

Rebecca said...

You know... as a Christian, I was able to overlook this post, but not the follow up. Sure you're angry and hurt... but so are the people who don't share you sense of humor about their religion. Religion is a touchy subject and as an intelligent, thinking human being you do know that. So be hurt, express your feelings on the subject, but open the comments on that post. I love your blog but I find it very difficult to respect bloggers who close comments or quit blogging over one controversial post. I may not agree with your making jokes about my religion but I will defend your right to do it. I will not, however, defend your right to get all pissy and then not allow others to defend their viewpoints as well. Sorry, my opinion - just as valid as yours.

Amanda said...

Swistle - I think you are fantastically fantastic and love every word you write. And if I didn't, it's your blog for Christ's sake. I wouldn't whine about it, I just wouldn't read further. No biggy!

Wuv!

Swistle said...

Rebecca- I totally agree. And you're expressing your just-as-important-as-mine opinions here, which is where we're having the discussion. I didn't want the discussion to get split over two posts---that gets confusing, both for me and for people who think important points haven't yet been made. I've clarified this in the other post so others won't assume it's pissiness, too.

Rebecca said...

Thank you for responding! I've just seen so much of that type of behavior from bloggers I generally like and respect that I guess I've come to expect it. The edit makes all the difference in the world and shows who you really are. Well done, girl!

Swistle said...

Rebecca- I'm so glad you said something about it, because I've definitely seen closed-comments posts that seemed like "having the last word and then slamming the door," so as soon as I realized mine looked like that I wanted to FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT ACK ACK ACK!

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I loved this dialogue in the comments almost more than the post. I found nothing offensive about the post as it is, as you said, in the very book that many modern-day religions are based upon. Can you imagine if I were to have special abilities because of a professed parentage from God himself and were to do ANY of the crap that the big guy was supposed to have sanctioned? Death Sentence, anyone?

That said, I have issues with the fact that the Bible has survived through many editors and politicians who have included only what they felt fit with their political purposes as the Old and New testaments. Also, the idea that dreams and visions can be interpreted as solid facts and reasons for committing heinous acts is proof that PEOPLE in the Old Testament were bat-shit crazy; Not that GOD is horrible. Prove to me that GOD sanctioned any of that crap, and then I'll have a REAL bone to pick with him.

But until then, I'll go about believing my own conglomeration of "The universe is one and we are all together... Cuckoo-ca-choo".

jt said...

That the Bible includes all that bad stuff is proof positive to me that it is true and that God is real. Otherwise, if the Bible were totally fabricated and all cotton candy clouds and skittle rainbows, it would be even harder for me to believe that God does in fact exist.

Also, Neil, yes. There are people--millions of them, in fact--that believe that Adam and Eve really "happened." I am one of them.

jiveturkey said...

Swistle, I am right there with you. RIGHT THERE.

jt: I don't understand why the inclusion of bad stuff in the Bible = truth, and proof of God's existence. For me, the inclusion of "bad stuff" serves a definite purpose: to show the consequences of not believing in God, to showcase God's wrath & power, etc. Can you explain a little more?

jt said...

Absolutely. It just seems to me that if it were a vast conspiracy and a lie, those who were concocting it would want to sweep the negative stuff under the rug to make it all more appealing. Just reading the comments here, it's obvious that showing the consequences of not believing in God and showcasing his power doesn't necessarily sway people in the direction of belief. I think that's pretty obvious.

Shelly said...

I love this. I have some MASSIVE problems with the whole Job story, for just exactly the reason you name.

Misty said...

You're awesome, love. I agree wholeheartedly.

Fay said...

I love this post, and comment to show my support! People need to get over themselves, and question authority. The Bible was written and collected over hundreds of years, by a bunch of male authority figures, who had a definite political agenda; it's foolish NOT to consider scripture in that context, in my opinion.

Kristi said...

There are so. many. things. in the Bible I don't fully understand or LIKE. Even the now stuff like 'turn the other cheek' and 'submit'. And I've always been in the POOR JOB WHAT THE HECK camp. It makes me sad. I have no recollection of bear eating children, guess I really need to brush up on OT reading (but who needs OT when we have NT?!! JOKE).

You're right, thinking Christians DON'T just LOVE every word written in the Bible - and I've come to peace with that. I have accepted that never will I fully understand the ways of God, neither the wrath-filled or the forgiving 7 times 7 God. I feel more 'just' than either extreme. I do know I BELIEVE IN and LOVE God, however much I don't understand Him.

Mel said...

Just a quick note to say that I love ya! I have the same point of view as you and, as always, love your writing.

St said...

Yep, people misunderstood and overreacted and IMO, that makes them look foolish, not you.
Understand the spirit of the post before you go all haywire.

Anonymous said...

I'm done reading your blog.

purplered said...

I was NOT one of the people who were offended by the post, but here are my thoughts as to why some were offended. Maybe it's like when I hear someone tell a gay joke. My brother is gay, and there has been a lot of teasing in his life, so even if the joke is FUNNY and actually kind of TRUE, I just can't bring myself to laugh at it because it hits too close to the BAD kind of teasing, you know? Maybe that's an analogy that kind of explains people's reactions to this post?

Swistle said...

Anonymous- Really? After one single post you don't like? Isn't that a little...harsh?

Anonymous said...

UNFOLLOW! Just kidding!

I think you're just being REAL and true to yourself. Sharing anything on the web takes cahones and I respect that about you.

Fiona Picklebottom said...

Well, this comments section is just all kinds of fascinating. :) I thought the post was quite interesting.

Alice said...

UNFOLLOOOOWW! (ha. as if. you're stuck with me!)

i understand how christians might get a little *testy* about their religion, because it DOES get mocked a lot and it IS represented by blowhard assholes a lot. HOWEVER, you are not doing that here, nor are you a blowhard asshole. as far as i know ;-)

what i don't get is how christians aren't allowed to disagree with / dislike / not understand some of what God has done, like send bears after children or destroy the entire earth with a flood. i mean: i love my mom unconditionally, right? there is nothing she could do that would make me stop loving her. YET, there are things she has done that i don't think were wonderful, that i disagree with, or that i think she could have done better. THIS DOES NOT NEGATE MY LOVE FOR HER. why aren't christians allowed to be that way with their God & the bible? having a few quibbles or doubts about certain stories doesn't negate their faith or their love for god, surely?

(except, obviously it DOES, to certain people, based on these comments.)

K said...

This discussion is more interesting than the post, in my opinion. As someone who was born and raised in a Christian household (minister's daughter, Christian education from kindergarden to my B.A. but excluding my law degree), I've heard it all.

I will say the post wasn't my style of humour, but I would much rather hear this than unthinking, blind acceptance of everything one has been told in the religious department.

Swistle, my story could have easily been yours, but for whatever unexplained and mysterious reason I've found my faith again.

Those who call themselves Christians need to come to terms with why they find points of view such as this offensive - not least because St. Paul refers to "the folly of the cross". I don't mean to get overly theological, but being a Christian involves holding socially acceptable beliefs alongside the really wierd and unacceptable ones. As Swistle rightly points out, there is a lot of foolishness going on - and Christians should be prepared to take that on themselves.

Sam's comments along with some of the others are excellent examples of St. Augustine's faith seeking reason (and not the other way around). Authentic Christians must grapple with (among other things) the points that Swistle made.

Chrissy said...

I'm a long long long time reader of yours and also a Christian. This one stung a little for me, but I think it was just because it was hard to read your tone at first. I wouldn't leave an irate comment or unsubscribe over it, I'm not that easily rattled, plus you're just WAY to funny, but like I said, it just stung. Your explanation of it made it much clearer, and I totally see where you are coming from. I think people just got a little too defensive, like you were talking smack about their mamas or something.

I do question God, and I don't understand what the heck was going on in the Bible, pretty much ever. I'm okay with that, for now. I think a faith that hasn't been examined is worthless. Critical thinking skills are a must, especially when it comes to people in the church. OH, especially them. They can be real wackos.

Anyway, all this to say, sleep well, don't fret about people jumping ship and being nasty and what-not. Good riddance to them.

And can you please criticize Wal-Mart again? that was so much more fun.

MamaK said...

interesting stuff. my 2 cents is this: we shouldn't take even the love stuff at face value. For instance, the "turn the other cheek" thing... people think it's about letting others walk all over you. But in that culture (Roman, 1st century) it was allowed by law for a citizen to slap someone *of lesser status* with the back of their hand. So "turning the other cheek" is actually challenging their status as "higher" or "better" - because if they hit you again, it would be with an open palm, which designates a fight between equals.

so... Jesus is not talking about being a wimp, but about "forcing" another to consider equality!?

jen(melty) said...

Geez. FTR I thought this post was hilarious. "Compensation FAIL." ha! "IF ONLY SOMEONE HAD CREATED THEM DIFFERENTLY" ha, ha!!

Jenn said...

Here's what I don't understand. If Swistle was talking about bad things she claimed God did but those things weren't in the Bible, I would consider that an attack on Christians (me among them) and Christianity. But she's only talking about things the Bible itself says happened, so what is the problem here?

B42L8 said...

One reason I've been reading this blog for so long is that its an assortment. Someone was complaining that this post was 'out of the blue' as if that made it bad or soemthing, but I think all your post are out of the blue and thats what I like. The spider poem was 'out of the blue' too. So was the Mr Pickles thing. So was the post about how some people are one way and some people are another way. I like it, don't stop.

Swistle said...

Chrissy- That WAS fun, wasn't it? I think I got more flak for the Walmart post than for this one, but I didn't mind because I was TRYING to cheese Walmart!

Penny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Penny said...

"I don't mind telling you it made me both hurt and angry that a few of you said you were ditching me because of that post. That makes me feel like you expect me to be perfect: one screw-up and I am WORTHLESS and you are GONE."

I laugh at this, because wasn't this the thing you were snarking about the bible for? The whole idea that the punishment does not fit the crime? And the very people who ditched you for this one mere post are the ones who disagree that the God smiting thing was a tad out of proportion to whatever so and such did in the bible? Well, if that isn't living by your own standards, what is.

(fixed some edits, because I am a bad writur.)

Margie said...

Love this!

Anonymous said...

Stephanie T. (don't know how to log in so my name shows)

"A spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe - a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble." -Einstein

Love your posts, Swistle, I wonder though if, "The cynic is never fooled so he is never delighted" hits home? Everything may not be as it first appears.

I've been a cynic and a skeptic and it never felt TRUE. Being willing to acknowledge that maybe I was wrong made my life go better. There must be something to humility although there is no "religious" reason it should.

Anonymous said...

Steph T. again,

Meant there's no "non-religious" reason. Um, a double negative sucks. :)

Anonymous said...

wait...since when are athiests obnoxious?

nicolien said...

No time to read all the comments, but i LOVE this post and your responses to the (anonymous) are dead-on. You rock.

Cara said...

This was just fun