The bible, so full of contradictory statements, is a perfect setting for Rorschach tests.
It’s all just spilled ink on the page.
You see what you want to see.
You want airy fairy hippy shit? You got it.
“Sons you are, to the lord your God.”
You want dogmatic, oppressive, hardline world views? You’ll find it in spades.
“And my rage shall rise up in my nostrils, and I shall destroy you from the face of the earth.”
It’s bipolar, and you get to choose what side of the pendulum you want to be on.
Because you can’t be everything. It is impossible to contain this amount of contradiction. As humans, we never encounter anything this good, and this bad, all in the same being. We are creatures of nuance.
The bible reads like a Grimm’s fairytale or a Roald Dhal story, full of extremes that appeal to four- to eight-year-olds.
But it runs deeper than Rorschach. The blotches don’t just show you where you currently are. They validate this way of being. “Be manic, be flawed, be judgmental and angry. It says so in the bible.”
My mother, endlessly pivoting from one Torah idea to the next, to reflect her current world views of the moment. The latest words of the latest Rabbi. The Guru of the Day.
My father, somehow able to find “balance” between Torah study and saving the Jewish people. Knowing when he can nap, when he can enjoy a whiskey, when it’s time for an hour of study with his learning partner. I’m not sure how he knows when he can do what. I could never tell.
You see what you want to see.
Here’s what I see.
I see “anyone who stops studying to say ‘how beautiful is this tree’ is condemning his life.”
I see “anyone who stops studying and begins to speak idle talk, will get fed everlasting burning embers.”
I see “all who speak frequently with a woman shall inherit hell.”
And so, to this day, I cannot rest.
It’s been eight years since I left religion, and still, my baseline of existence unworthiness. It is woven into the fabric of my being.
Every moment must be earned. My worth must be established anew, ever second. It’s exhausting to re-create yourself continuously, or backslide into the big gaping zero that is your baseline.
Each failure cutting deep, since my starting point is worthlessness.
“I am but dust and ashes.” It’s getting a little catholic in here. And not even Jesu (which I was taught was an acronym for “may his name and his memory be eradicated”) can save me.
Beautiful summer days fill me with guilt. Torn between temptation to step outside, and the felt sense that I am shirking a duty, failing at some cosmic responsibility.
The words of the bible reflect the conditionality of my worth, which comes from home and school, Parents and community. Each build on the other, endlessly reinforcing the reality: you are what you accomplish. You’ll get attention when you get a good grade. We’ll accept you if you do as you’re told.
On top of this, one of the biggest mindfucks that occurred within this oppressive need for constant Torah study, was the pretending that it was enjoyable
Endless simpering verses about “how much I love your guidance, God. All day it is what I speak,” and “your words are more valuable than gold, and sweeter than honey and nectar.”
If I am destined to throw myself into this endless chasm of obligation and minutia, of egg sized portions and fist sized gaps, so be it.
But to attempt to control my mood, how I feel about it, this is the ultimate offense. Endless mindfuckery about how great it all is, how everyone around me must be enjoying it so much, this endless talk of Bulls Who Gore Cows. How if I don’t find pleasure in these arcane words something is clearly wrong with me. I was “a child who runs away from school.”
You’re not even allowed to be sad.
You’re not even allowed to hate it.
Whenever I die, and regardless of what cause, let those verses be my suicide note.