Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Bible as Practical Wisdom

I don’t look at the Bible so much as religion but as good practical wisdom about life, especially about the frailties of humanity. You can find the same wisdom in Aesop’s Fables, in fairy tales, and in any good novel, including popular ones, such as those by Stephen King.

Let’s take, for example, the Book of Proverbs. There are seven detestable things listed.
• A proud look
• A lying tongue
• Hands that shed innocent blood
• A heart that devises wicked plots
• Feet that are swift to run into mischief
• A deceitful witness that uttereth lies
• Him that soweth discord among brethren

These traits can be translated into hubris, lying and murder. “Wicked plots” can mean anything bad, be it murder, lies, theft, as can all the rest.

The Bible is in many ways “conservative,” in the sense of its depiction of people as inherently imperfect and flawed. Not surprisingly, all the better writers portray people as greatly flawed, be they Shakespeare or Conrad or Dostoevsky. As I mentioned, even the modern-day popular ones, such as Stephen King, portray people as very flawed.

The worst writers, such as Karl Marx (and what he wrote is fiction) portray people as not limited and flawed, as being potential gods, as them being capable of creating a utopia on earth.

It’s clear that many people fall for the belief there can be a Heaven on earth, otherwise so many people would not for fallen for Marx, or Stalin, or Hitler, with their beliefs that once you get rid of the bad people, only goodness will remain.
I’ve heard these people who promise Heaven on earth referred to as ‘the Children of Darkness,” and the problem with them is that they are far more clever than the Children of Light. If they weren’t cleverer than the Children of Light, they wouldn’t be far more able to manipulate and con people.

The problem is that people are flawed, in fact sleepwalkers, because if they weren’t, so many of them would not fall for the promises of the Children of Darkness. And what the Children of Darkness promise is far more than what the Children of Light promise. Far, far more, and that is the problem.

The promises of the Children of Darkness include not only utopia on earth, but getting rid of evil, which of course is an inherent part of utopia. When David Frum and Richard Perle wrote a book called “An End to Evil,” they immediately identified themselves as Children of Darkness, most especially since their “end to evil” involved long-term war.

I have come to the conclusion that the mass of people are sheep, they are asleep, they fall for the outrageous promises of the Children of Darkness, with their promises of utopia and an end to evil. It’s as if they’re children who never grew up, and look to leaders for them to worship, ones who believe will take them of their every need.

They want to return to the Garden of Eden, ignoring the fact there is a cherubim with a flaming sword barring their way back. The fact is also some of the good practical wisdom in the Bible.

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