Friday, February 13, 2009

I AM a terrist!?

The other day, I went to church for some reason, and the sermon was on the first 9 of the 10 plagues of Egypt. First of all, let's hear it for the ancient Israelites. What other ancient people group went through so much shit in their formative years? God really must have been on their side, yeah?

Anyway, we all know this story. The Israelites went to Egypt because Joseph's brothers sold him to some A-rabs who took him there, and through his supernatural ability to interpret dreams, he went from falsely-accused prisoner to 2nd-in-command of all Egypt in just 17 short years, literally saving the entire known world from starvation in the process! After the Israelites were in Egypt for a few hundred years, Pharoah enslaved them because [let's see how this logic works out here...] he was afraid that there were too many of them (I can just hear him now: "Those Ra-damned Jews! They multiply like rabbits!") and they would join the enemies of Egypt if there were ever a war and then escape the country? Ok, sure, that makes so much sense, let's just go with that. But all this time, the Jews continued to fuck like rabbits even during Pharoah's ultimately ineffective "no male Hebrew child left undrowned" program, until, one fateful day, Moses was born, the child who would one day lead Israel to follow the drinking gourd through the underwater railroad and into the promised land! But first, he felt compelled to kill someone for abusing a slave and out himself as a Jew, which led him to flee into even more of a desert than the one he was already in! Eventually, after having many adventures in exile with Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, Moses took some shrooms and saw a bush that seemed to be burning and not consumed by the fire, but only because he perceived time more slowly than usual. The bush told him to return to Egypt and demand that the Israelites be released from slavery. He was startled, so he dropped his staff, which, of course, turned into a snake. Afterwards, when he finally went back to Egypt to demand that Pharoah LET HIS PEOPLE GO! Pharoah replied: "Hey, I remember you! You're the prick from the basket! What the fuck are you doing back here?"

Why did they get Charlton Heston to play Moses, anyway? We all know that Moses didn't really have very good public speaking skills. The one with speaking skills was Moses' brother Aaron, who, ironically, was played by Jeff Goldblum in that other movie.

But all that was just the background! Here's where the story gets interesting, and is, incidentally where the sermon started. Moses couldn't convince Pharoah that the voices he heard in his head were real, so God decided that the best way to melt Pharoah's cold, cold heart was through... plagues? Seriously? Yes... plagues. I mean, this is God we're talking about here. Couldn't he have come up with another way to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go? Maybe God had just come up with the idea the previous week and wanted to try it out on someone.

"Hey, Moses. You know what would really convince this Pharoah guy to let my people go? Plagues! We gotta go with plagues, bro. Trust me on this. It's gonna be fuckin' epic!"
And Moses might have replied, "Are you sure? Sounds a bit drastic. Can't you just like, actually change his mind? Without doing the plagues thing?"
"Nah! I don't do that sort of thing! It's not like I'm all powerful or anything! Here, let's dip your staff in the Nile and turn it into blood!"

Hmm... attempting to change the policies of a government through acts of violence... where have we seen that before? Doesn't any of this sound like terrorism to any of you!? Obviously, I'm not going to defend a civilization that enslaved an entire group of people for hundreds of years..... Anyway! Moving on! The sermon giver said that God used this incident to show that "He is always in control" and that He knows how to protect His own people even when He's pouring His wrath onto others. My, how comforting... But who knows, maybe the Israelites wouldn't have had the motivation to return to the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel if the Egyptians hadn't enslaved them. Of course, all of this stuff really, actually happened. They never would have exaggerated or stretched the truth and the story never could have changed over time since it was never written down until Moses was like, really, really, really, really old... This book was inspired by God, after all... right?

The preacher tied this all into modern life by talking about how he doesn't think "anyone in Washington knows how to fix the economy... but God does." Sure... how's he going to do that again? And how's he going to get that message to the people on the ground?

Looking at all of this further in depth, I think it's great that the modern American church is glorifying terrorism like this and is seemingly so thirsty for vengeance. It reflects so well on the message of Jesus, right? I can't wait for next week's sermon on the 10th plague!


  1. I once heard an interesting interpretation. Each plague represents one of the Egyptian gods, and Moses' command of these aspects of nature (the Nile, frogs, locusts, etc.) demonstrated the superiority of the Jewish God over the Egyptian gods. In this case it is unclear to me whether the story would be interpreted literally or in a more symbolic sense. Usually the wrathful things that God does in the Old Testament are meant to bring about good (usually in the form of repentance or learning). I have had a lot of trouble with some events, though. Like the Israelites' conquering of Palestine--I always wondered why God ordered all the inhabitants to be exterminated, and the only reason I heard was that the Israelites couldn't have other groups tempting them to abandon God. Basically, I understand the moral dilemma you've pointed out in the punishment of Egyptian civilians.

  2. I didn't go to your sermon, but couldn't the preacher have meant that no earthly ruler is competent to interfere with the free activity of people when he said that only God does know how to fix the economy and no one else?

    God does know how to fix the economy, and he speaks to individual economic actors as the Voice of Reason telling each one what to do to attain his self-interest.