Come Get Into Bed With Me!

I received an email from Plimco worried about how sick I am. In order to assuage her fears, I shot this video of me in my bed. There’s a lag between the action and the words, but it’s not too annoying, so I left it.

A Letter to Jamey Tucker in Which I Complain a Tiny Bit About Christians

Dear Mr. Tucker,

For starters, I really wish you would change the name of your blog from “Faith and Ethics” to “Christian Faith and Ethics” or maybe even “Christian Faith (and Ethics).”  I’ve been sick, so I’m a little grouchy, but I can’t tell you how much I long to sit down with a few other non-Christian bloggers and come up with some event so gross we can barely stand it to invite you to that involves ritual sacrifice and then ends with us all giving money to the poor.  (I wonder if Chris Wage knows where we might procure a life-sized infant Jello mold?)

I get that you’re very busy and that you write what you know, but holy cow, do I long for the day when you post an entry or do a story in which you seem to genuinely have encountered something outside your comfort zone that had to do with your beat!  I know most of the people in WKRN’s viewing area are Christian, but still…

Anyway, today I read your little entry on Noah’s ark and it made my heart hurt just a little for you.  Let’s start with the questions you ask and then move to your larger problem.

Of course there’s a lot of skepticism. But I wonder, if you are skeptical, why? Are you skeptical because it is so improbable that a 6,500 year old wooden ship would be recognizable today? Are you skeptical because you’ve heard these kinds of claims hundreds of times before? Or are you skeptical because you don’t believe the ark story in the first place?

Here are my questions for you.  From where do you get a date that puts “the” flood at 6,500 years ago?  Why do you trust that date and not some other?  Is it improbable that a 6,500 year old wooden ship would be recognizable today?  A lot of ancient things made of delicate materials left recognizable remains, so why couldn’t a wooden ship?  Of course I’m skeptical because these claims get repeatedly made. 

It’s not that I don’t believe the ark story.  I do.  Heck, my people came to America, settled, had a baby, got run off by the folks already here, came back and told everyone, “Hey, there’s a ton of land over there, but the folks there don’t take kindly to squatters.” and yet the whole world acted shocked, very shocked, when archaeologist discovered the remains of Norse settlements in Newfoundland, because the very idea had been written off as “mere” folktale.

So, I have a great deal of sympathy for your desire to point and say, “See, here’s the thing we were telling you about.  Here it is.”  And yet, I could take you to L’Anse-aux-Meadows; would that cause you to convert to heathenism?  Of course not.  The stories that are meaningful to me aren’t necessarily meaningful to you.

Plus, no offense, but you have the whole “sea of reeds”/”Red Sea” problem.  As we all know, “Moses stood on the Red Sea shore, parted the water with a two-by-four.  Pharaoh’s army got drowned. ”  Except that, in Hebrew*, it’s ‘Yam suph’–the sea of reeds, which is not the same sea, but a marsh farther north.  Every Biblical scholar worth her salt knows this and yet, how many times have we been greeted with the news that archaeologists think that this time they’ve found Pharaoh’s army on the floor of the Red Sea?

And it’s not just a matter of trusting whether your archaeologists have reliable translations, your archaeologists also have to account for the fact that there exists another version of the flood story that is almost exactly the same, except that it is not Noah who builds an ark, but Ut-Napishtim.  This poses quite the dilemma for your archaeologists.  If you look at the two stories, it’s very, very hard not to see them as two takes on the same event.

I won’t go into all of the evidence; you can find it here.

My point is that now your archaeologists have to decide.  Are they looking for Noah’s ark or Ut-Napishtim’s?  If they choose to place more importance on one version over the other, why is that?  What criteria are they using to date (and thus validate) Noah’s story over Ut-Napishtim’s? 

So, even if they find a boat, even if it’s the right age, it doesn’t mean it’s Noah’s.  It could be Ut-Napishtim’s.  Or it could be the boat of a man who’s name has been lost to time, whose story came down to us both through Noah’s and Ut-Napishtim’s versions.  Any boat that would validate your belief in the Bible would also validate the beliefs of the ancient Sumerians.

Which brings me to my last point, which is not my point, but my father’s point, which is not his point, but a point he passed on to me as coming from Jewish scholars.  Is it actually a point Jewish scholars make?  I don’t know.  But see, what you’ll find is, that when I get to the point, it’s a good one and one worth considering, and if a Methodist minister gives it a little backstory that makes it more likely you’ll hear it, maybe it doesn’t matter if the pedigree of the point is up to snuff

Okay, so here’s the point.  When you read anything in the Bible, there are three meaningful questions to ask, and none of them are “Is this true?”  The three questions are “What does this tell us about the nature of God?  What does this tell us about the  nature of man?  What does this tell us about the relationship between the nature of God and the nature of man?”

Do you see why this is a more fruitful line of inquiry?

Shoot, Tucker, if you’re going to keep up with your Christian reporting, those might make interesting everyday questions to ask.

I said I was going to complain a tiny bit about Christians, and here’s where I’m going to do it.  Folks, you are practicing a religion.  The Bible is not a checklist of archaeological digs you must fund in order to prove that your way is right.  

There’s supposed to be mystery and wonder and confusion.  There’s supposed to be awe and stuff beyond knowing.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t go looking for whatever it is you want to go looking for.

I’m just saying that, when you put all your hope in fact, you’re conceding the terms of the debate to secularists who, first of all, love to frame religion as a question of whether or not it’s “real” just because it’s so cute to watch you guys get all wound up and go off; and second, aren’t going to be convinced even if you showed up tomorrow with the ark, a piece of the one true cross, and a tuft of Jesus’s hair from which DNA tests could prove he had no earthly father. 

So, there you go.  Think carefully about where you’re putting your treasure.  Are you still hoping for earthly validation?

In the Spirit of the Season,

Aunt B. 




*Y’all, if you listen quietly, I believe you can hear NM holding her breath to wait to see if I get this right.  I’m not going to, NM.  We both know that.  Just be prepared to correct me now.

I Seriously Feel Like I am Covered In Booger

I want to lay around and feel sorry for myself, but I can breathe and so I feel like I don’t have much left to complain ab0ut.

Blah, blah, blah.

I’m still here.

I’ve been thinking about how hard this time of year is–that stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year when all seems right with almost everyone in the world–how hard that is if things aren’t going right with you, if your family can’t get together, if you’ve got no family to get together, or none you want to get together with.  Or if certain stretches of the season are too hard because they remind you of all of the people who aren’t there.

I was thinking about how often we have to put together our own families, for a variety of reasons, and how the families you choose are often able to do more for you than the families you’re born into.

I think we should extend that concept to holidays–if the ones you’re born into don’t suit you, find some different ones.  Let other days carry the weight of your own personal meaning.

Bleh, I think I’m going to throw up.

Never mind.