Sunday, July 20, 2014

From Out of the Thicket and Into the Fire

This is the tale of a rather precarious and unlucky ram.

One day Khnum the curious ram was strolling off the beaten path. His father had warned him about the roaming pagans in the desert who, upon seeing live animals felt the insatiable need to sacrifice them. Khnum had also heard of many of his kin being slaughtered by pagans and used to appease their gods. Yet, Khnum was a curious young ram and he was not going to let fear chain him to the herd.

So, Khnum was off by himself, wandering the pastures, seeking the most delicious grass patches the rocky Middle-Eastern wasteland has to offer. He found himself strolling through the land of Moriah, upon one of the mountains there. When Khnum reached the top of the mountain he raised his eyes and saw: Behold! An old man was tying a younger man down to a pile of stones and wood.

This was an amusing sight for Khnum. He was pleased to see that the humans had begun sacrificing each other. Perhaps his kind would finally be able to roam the desert lands in peace without the fear of being grabbed, tied up, and burned, all the while having to endure the terrible hymns and psalms the human worshipers would recite. He had always dreamed of such a day. Khnum watched curiously as the spectacle played out before him, when he noticed, out of the corner of his eye, some delicious berries buried in an unsuspecting thicket.

Feeling confident that the humans were too busy with their religious ritual; he decided he would really like to extract some of those berries. It should be stated here, that it is considered common sense by all rams, goats, bison, deer, bulls, moose and any other animal blessed with horns (no antisemites, that does not include Jews), that one does not attempt to extract berries from a thicket horns first. Sadly for our young Khnum, he was never a very sensible when there were berries involved.

As soon as Khnum placed his face in the thicket he knew something was wrong. He tried to pull his head out and realized, to his horror, that his horns were tangled in the thicket. He was stuck. He began to jerk his head around violently trying to yank his horns free, when a thought occurred to him. He hadn't heard any screams, nor does he smell any smoke. Now, he may not have had the sharpest horns in the herd, but Khnum knew that where there's sacrifice, there's smoke.

Not wanting to, but knowing he must, Khnum raised his eyes and saw that the old man was untying the younger man. Khnum watched in terror as the old man lifted his eyes and locked upon Khnum's. Khnum stared ahead, paralyzed by fear (and of course the thicket) as the old man smiled and began approaching.

It was only moments after that Khnum found himself being pulled free of the thicket and placed on the make-shift alter. In his final moments, Khnum's heart was filled with false hope. "Okay, he's stretching forth his hand...okay, he's taking up the knife... But maybe, he'll reconsider like he did for that other..." The poor Khnum did not even finish his thought.

Needless to say, Khnum's family mourned his loss and swore to avenge him. As it turned out,  many more of Khnum's family would meet the same fate until man, almost four thousand years later, would create the very first animal rights law: "No man or woman may take any animal from any thicket or pit to replace it for your son or daughter whom you may have originally tried sacrificing to a god or gods." The law, though it upset countless "freedom of religion" activists, was accepted internationally and a transgressor may receive up to, but not exceeding 39 lashes.

The 10 Amendments from Mt. Cynic

[Disclaimer:  The following piece is not meant to cause offense, (though no doubt it will) but rather to be taken as tongue-in-cheek. Therefore, if you are a person (especially one of faith) who does not have a sense of humor, please click the "x" at the corner of your screen and be done with it. If you choose to read it and are still offended, I call on a very religious attribute when I say: "Do forgive me, won't you?"]

I have found that religion can offer a person real and true comfort. The believer, doing precisely that, knows that at the end of this odious life, there awaits a God who will love and care for him from his death and forevermore. Since he can now rest easy from worrying about petty fears like death, dying, and the unknown, all he must now do is find some type of meaning to live for. So by believing, as he does so well, that he is the chosen one of God and his very inhaling and exhaling of oxygen is fulfilling a part (perhaps a crucial one) in some divine plan, he has successfully quieted his search for purpose. Now that his life has inherit meaning, all he has left to believe is that most of the people who are disturbing his current existence, will find themselves promptly placed in hell, and therefore he need not worry that they will be crowding up his paradise. These sort of religions beliefs can lead someone to a sort of peace in this very unpleasant and rather brief existence.

Due to the many horrors inflicted on humanity because of the faithful, there are those atheists today who wish all religions abolished. I, however, do not see it in that way. You see, if you were to ask a gazelle in the jungle if he would like to have the human mental capacity to believe nonsense, he may refuse your offer. But if you were to say to this gazelle that with this advanced human ability he would no longer fear the bite of the lion (for a bite would mean he was heaven-bound), he may take you up on it.

Such existential comfort is hard to come by without a belief in God. Life being the tragic carnival of confusion, doubt and misery it is, can make the godless people slip into a sort of gloomy perception of existence from time to time. Belief in God can help you to say: "Life may suck now, but soon I'll be in paradise, and more importantly they will be in hell!" Therefore I say: why take that away from us gazelles (perhaps I should say sheep) constantly awaiting the Lion named Death?

However, believers of all kinds must follow a set of rules if we are to allow such wanton wish-thinking in our society. I know that almost every religion has already bombarded it's followers with a long list of rules and regulations, but I must add on just ten more if we are going to make this whole coexistence thing work out.

Here are the Ten Commandments for the Faithful:
[Note: Where it is said that Moses received his set of ten commandments at Sinai, I "received" these while in the shower.]

1. I am the LORD your God. "Your God" being the emphasis.

2. Thou shalt have no other gods. But should also not condemn, curse or kill anyone with a different set of fantastical claims, or lack thereof.

3. Thou shalt have no graven images or likenesses. Nor, should you demand the placement of any of your religious symbols in schools, courthouses, or government buildings. Pretty much, just keep it to yourself.

4. Thou shalt not mention your God's name in a vain attempt to be considered a morally righteous person.

5. Remember your Sabbath,. But do not pelt with stones anyone who does not want to remember it.

6. Honor thy father and mother. And while your at it, honor everyone else too. Yes, that included atheists.

7. Thou shall not kill. Anyone. Ever. Even if they don't happen to believe the same beliefs that you happen to.

8.  Thou shalt not steal the education of children by replacing lessons on proven scientific facts for biblical fundamentalism.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness. This includes elaborate tales of personal divine revelations.

10. Thou shalt not covet the lives of non-believers, even though yes, it is more fun. Well, I suppose you can covet it if you want to.

If anyone took offense to this harmless attempt at satire, I am truly sorry. The good news for you is, I'm probably going to hell for it anyway.