Thursday, September 27, 2007

Loosing my religion.

Interesting moment of religious reflection today. I was in a church, see, to proctor as PSAT, and I was in some sort of basement room which was used as a Sunday school for third graders, I believe. Anyway, point is, during my extensive period of looking around aimlessly, I read the Ten Commandments as simplified for youngsters. Most of which were uninteresting, but the third caught my eye.

"You must not misuse the name of God," it said. Which isn't what I'm used to hearing... the standard in my mind being "Thou shalt not use the Lord's name in vain." Which I've (and the league of Stereotypical Catholic Mothers) always associated with something along the lines of "don't say 'god' unless you're talking about God". And you know, the Orthodoxy and their 'G-d' and whatnot; point is, the way it's commonly interpreted makes it seem like a sacred name, and the name is the thing. No blaspheming!

But being told not to misuse a name, while I suppose the same (technically) as being told not to use it in vain, has a different implication. Because instead of using a name when it's not right to, we're being warned against using it when it is -wrong- to... the emphasis is slightly different. Because then the name's not necessarily the thing in and of itself (which frees the League and me to say "God God Goddity God" as we see fit). What if it's just the Lord's way of asking not be called in as a character witness, so to speak. Don't attribute things to him that aren't his business. Now, I don't speak fluent Old, but the NRSV says "You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name" (Exodus 20:7), which sounds more like the third-grade version than the one floating about in my head. And it really, truly seems to me like the Fellow isn't ordering us not to blaspheme, but rather to refrain from saying He told us to go to war with Iraq, or something like that.

I don't pretend to be the first armchair theologian to reach this particular conclusion, it was just something that made PSAT proctoring marginally more bearable for a few minutes, and I thought I'd share it with you.


Blogger Vincent said...

Fun thing to think about: God as we know Him--by which I mean the Judeo-Christian-and probably Arabic-God--actually has a Name. See, back in the Way the Hell Back, when Jerusalem was still a great place to live and had a really awesome Temple to boot, on High Holy Days, the High Priest would go into the innermost sanctum of the Temple and speak the true name of God. This name was known to no one but the High Priest, and he would pass it on to his successor when the time came.

Of course, you see the problem that arose. Romans came, sacked the place, killed the priests, and now nobody knows just what His Name is.

We're just not to use it in vain, is all.

I told the above to a group of impressionable 9th graders that I was supposed to be teaching Presbyterianism to, and frankly, I hope it got them to question their faith. Blind faith is worthless; a faith understood is much better, in my opinion.

Just some random God-trivia for you, since you brought it up.

9/28/2007 8:14 AM  

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