ponzo reads the bible - genesis 20

It’s been quite some time since my last post in the Ponzo Reads the Bible series (which is now migrating to the new blog, though you can always access the archives here). I have practical reasons for slacking off – moving halfway across the country being the chief one – but the most immediate excuse is that I got stuck on Genesis 20. I just didn’t know how to respond to it.

It is not because Genesis 20 contains some life-changing moral message that caused an epiphany in me. Rather, Genesis 20 simply continues what has quickly become the theme of the Old Testament in general: God’s chosen people do terrible things to others, with God’s full approval.

How many times can I condemn the moral degeneracy of Abraham and Sarah, or of their God for letting them get away with the shit they pull? How can I find new words to describe my disgust?

Here is the summary of Genesis 21: Abraham and Sarah travel to the land of Gerar, which is ruled by King Abimelech. Once again, they play the “Sarah is my sister” trick on Abimelech, convincing him that Sarah is free for the taking and ensuring that he will fall in lust with her (keep in mind, by the way, that Sarah is over 90 years old at this point). Once Abimelech has taken Sarah for his own, God shows up to demand the Bronze Age equivalent of protection money, threatening dire consequences if Abimelech fails to pay up.

Excuse me, but how is this not a protection racket?

This time, though, there is a twist. You see, Abimelech may have taken Sarah to be his wife, but he has refrained from even touching her in the meantime. God couldn’t care less, though; he still insists that Abimelech pay up or face the consequences. In fact, he even has the audacity to take credit for Abimelech’s own modesty.

Oh, and it gets better, because here we find out that Abraham and Sarah weren’t lying about the sister thing after all. Sarah really is Abraham’s sister; he just married her anyway!

What is all this I’ve been hearing lately about “defending ‘traditional marriage’”?

Now, all of this would be fine if it were used to convey some moral lesson – i.e., if Abraham and Sarah eventually got what was coming to them for their actions. That is not the case, though. Instead, these trailer trash degenerates engage in trickery and deceit with God’s imprimatur, and God even shows up to twist the arm of their innocent victims. Three major religions trace their origins back to Abraham as ur-patriarch, and never stop to examine or question his true nature. These religions worship the same god that is here behaving like a petty thug.

What does this say about those religions, or their adherents? What does it say about the nature of their god? The only rational conclusion is that God – Yahweh, Allah, or whatever name you choose to ascribe to this deity – is evil. The chief religious concept that the Bible supports is maltheism.

The Bible hardly needs critics, as it is its own worst enemy. If its adherents ever bothered to read it, or if they did so without succumbing to massive cognitive dissonance, they would reject it outright.


unions and bailouts

During the first half of the twentieth century, unions played a central role in ending the abuses of laissez-faire capitalism and securing rights for workers. Unions became an important part of the American economy, giving workers a voice. However, the economy has changed since then. Manufacturing jobs which formed the base of union membership have become harder and harder to come by, replaced by a “service” economy in which unions play no role.

As someone who spent – gah! – ten years working for a particular fast food chain - *cough* McDonald’s *cough* - and having absolutely nothing to show for it, I was never able to sympathize with the demands of unionized workers. Like retailers Wal-Mart, Kmart, and others, the fast food industry has ensured that its workers are unable to organize, and so it has always treated them like crap. I was a witness to that; despite the myths, a substantial portion of fast-food workers (and their compatriots in other industries) are not high-school kids on their way to better things; they are adults, often with families, trying to make ends meet in local economies that offer no alternatives. The UAW never spoke up on our benefit, so I couldn’t have given a damn about them.

Nevertheless, even as I met the demands of presently unionized workers with resentment, I recognized the need for unionization, and that need has only become more profound in the current economic climate. If a company has no reason to fear its workers, then it will never provide them with anything even approaching decency; countless recent examples prove that to be true.

Which brings us to the auto industry. The Big Three American auto makers – Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler – have asked for a portion of the $700 billion Wall Street giveaway. The Republicans in Congress – and their lockstep supporters – are opposed to such a handout; they have actually taken the position that the auto industry be allowed to collapse. They don’t care about how many people are hurt by such a collapse, or its effects on the economy as secondary industries dependent upon it go down like dominoes. No, they are willing to see this happen for one reason and one reason only: to break the back of the United Auto Workers union.

Although most of the Republican platform has been taken over by religious nutjobs, there is still a faction loyal to the demands of big business and the ultra-wealthy. Unions stand in the way of unrestrained greed and rapacity on the part of corporate sociopaths, and the CEOpaths lust for their destruction. The Republicans are always quick to do their masters’ bidding, and the masters see this as an opportunity to get rid of that unionized thorn in their side.

Indeed, it was largely to break the power of the unions that the US economy was reorganized in the eighties to become a “service” economy. The propaganda was that others would do the dirty work, and Americans would oversee it all. That, of course, was bullshit: under the rule of the exalted senile Ronald Reagan, unionized American workers lot their jobs, and Chinese slave laborers snatched them all up. In that sand, the foundation of our contemporary economic woes was laid. Unions disappeared in the eighties; the standard of the newly dominant service industry was minimum wage and no benefits.

Remember that, when Republicans talk about the “American dream”, they don’t mean what you think they mean.

Of course, the American auto industry is not in trouble because of the UAW’s unreasonable demands. It would not surprise me if the total wages of every single UAW member put together failed to match that of a single General Motors CEO. The auto industry is in trouble for the same reason that the banks were in trouble: the people at the top took advantage of the gift of deregulation, and pushed things past the breaking point. Moreover, they clung to an outmoded business model based more on myth than reality: big, gas-guzzling vehicles that were simultaneously ugly, unreliable, and user-unfriendly, but which they convinced themselves Americans still wanted, even as those same buyers turned more and more to foreign options.

I was in opposition to the Wall Street free-for-all giveaway, because I knew it would neither help those who really needed help, nor do anything to help the economy overall. The money would disappear into a corporate black hole, spent on golden parachutes, luxury spa trips, and the proverbial ivory backscratchers. I have not been proven wrong. It is for the same reason that I oppose a giveaway to the auto industry: it won’t actually help the auto industry; just the CEOpaths at the top. Technically, I wind up in agreement with the Republicans, but for very different reasons.

Post-crisis, it is not the power of the unions that I desire to see broken, but the power of the antisocial bastards at the top.


gay secular fascist lives!

Props to Newt Gingrinch for what may just become my tagline.

I know, I know: it seems like it’s been forever. It’s not like I didn’t want to post, but, when I reached for the keyboard, something stayed my hand. I suppose it was the feeling of shouting into a void, but fuck that: I’m old friends with the void.

So I’m back, and I promise nothing. If you’re curious, you can read the posts I wrote at aop where I geeked out about Star Wars, but those were a while ago as well.

What have I been up to? Why, playing Fallout 3, of course! I’ve been playing that game at a leisurely pace for weeks now, and I am nowhere close to finishing it; it’s so much fun that I only push the main storyline forward when I have to.

In between, I’ve been catching up on Battlestar Galactica episodes. My time in Korea put a crimp on keeping up with the series, so I’m trying to catch up – avoiding anything that smacks of a spoiler in the meantime.

Oh, and there’s work: an hour of productivity, following by a day of boredom and resentment. Yeah, I went to college and joined the Army so that I could become a secretary! That’s precisely why I applied for the job, even though the job description was completely different when I submitted my resume. (Though it is a job, and I do recognize that I am lucky to have it. It’s just inadvertently becoming the very thing I never wanted to be, in the shadow of the very thing I wanted to be, that bugs me. My life is governed by ironies.)

So here’s to gaydom, seculardom, and *cough* “fascism” – with a lot of geekdom tossed in for good measure! I missed skewering quite a lot of right-wing idiocy while I was away; I’ve got some catching up to do.

blah blah gay blah blah god blah blah fire

According to this turtle-headed freak, “God” is so angry about the anti-Prop 8 protests in California that he has decided to set fire to people’s homes. Presumably, most of these homes were occupied by heteros with kids, so this seems rather counterproductive on Jehovah’s part – but the Great Sky Fairy has always been indiscriminate in his tantrums.

Seriously, though, I could ask, “Who thinks like this?” but I know that a great many people actually do think like that. Remember how the fundies blamed 9/11 on TEH GAYS, and then, a couple of years later, blamed Hurricane Katrina on TEH GAYS? Oh, and TEH GAYS are also responsible for the economic crisis, apparently.

That’s what religion does: it rots your brain from the inside-out, until you are ready to believe the most ridiculous things.

(Via Pam’s House Blend and Right Wing Watch.)