Thursday, 12 May 2011

The 10 Commandments: 2.0

21st of May, next week, is the end of the World. Apparently. Biblically speaking, anyway. And I find there's nothing like a looming deadline to realise all the things you haven't done. If the reality predictions are wrong, then it'll become clear that the Bible and associated religions need to be updated. If the rapture does occur, then we only have a few days to show the almighty vengeful God who embodies all peace and love on goodness that we have been paying attention all along, and what better way to do that than by reworking the religious teachings so that they still apply to modern society?

Granted, there are probably hundreds of better ways, e.g. going to church, praying devoutly for hours a day, and suddenly setting fire to your homosexual or alternative-faith friends. But that sounds like a lot of work and expense (petrol alone is ridiculously expensive these days, whether you use it for travelling/burning). But none of those make for a particularly interesting/legal blog. We already have a secular Bible thanks to AC Grayling, but in today's modern fast-paced society, who has time to sit and read a massive book? Even if it's presented via a 'cool' high-tech medium. But more and more of us seem to be coming more rational and dismissive of religion, so an attempt to incorporate science and reason into the Bible, although counterintuitive, is probably essential, as Grayling has noticed. Especially with, you know, the rapture and that. But in this culture we need sound bites, summaries and abstracts.

I've always felt like the 10 commandments are like the 'blurb' of the Old Testament. Easy to remember, quick to read, generally useful pointers for daily life. But you could easily argue they're outdated, considered by most of society to be less outright 'rules' and more 'rules of thumb'. A good example of a rule of thumb would be 'never base a cliché on wife beating', but that's beside the point. As a result, I reckon the 10 Commandments are ripe for a new version, a full overhaul, to make them applicable and useful for modern times. The originals were read on a tablet, so it seems ideal really.

So, what are the 10 Commandments, why are they outdated, and why should they be updated


1

"I am the Lord your God, thou shall have no other gods before Me.

Obviously, this one comes first. It's good business sense, God at the time was new and fledgling, so the first he'd need to do was make sure his followers stayed loyal. Even today's trendy modern youngsters can get their heads round this, judging by the number of hysterical overreactions I've seen when someone loses a facebook friend or twitter follower. But although logical, it's not necessarily accurate. Longer versions of this commandment specify that God freed Moses and his gang from Egypt, where there was a veritable plethora of Gods. And the Greeks, and Romans, and those in the Middle East, and India, and China, and so on. There were loads of Gods before God. But I understand that it's not saying God was the first God, but that you 'shall have no God before me'. But technically, this rules out people converting to Christianity, which doesn't seem like something they'd agree with. It essentially is the Bible hanging a 'no girls allowed' sign on the door of it's clubhouse (which doesn't sound too far from the truth, actually), so is effectively ignored. This seems to encapsulate up a general and worrying tendency of many people to selectively adhere to the truths that are convenient for them, while discarding others which are equally valid but less convenient. Whether religious or not, it's important to acknowledge and accept facts. If you believe God is the true God because it says so in the Bible, then the rest of the stuff in the Bible should be equally valid, especially if it's by the same author. Likewise, if you believe something because a 'scientist' said it, then other scientists should have just as valid a claim to say it's nonsense. If one scientist says something, but if hundreds or thousands of more qualified scientists in the same or even more relevant fields say the first scientist is wrong, you can't just ignore them (see antivaxxers, conspiracy theorists, global warming deniers and David Icke). So, in order to maintain adherence to these commandments and the rules they lay down, and discourage mad behaviour and beliefs, the first Commandment becomes

Updated: Thou shall not accept some truths and ignore equivalent truths on the basis of convenience and preconceived notions.



2

You shall not make for yourself any engraven images, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.

This seems like a re-emphasis of the first commandment. It reads like 'Seriously, I'm the only God you're allowed to have. I don't care if you make it yourself, it's not a God, I am'. I guess people worshipping home-made objects was a big problem in the old days. Although you could argue it's persisted somewhat. It's quite grating to be around anyone who owns multiple iPhones and sees Steve Jobs as some kind of Techno-deity. These Macolytes even have their own churches and rally's, all for the worship of small flat plastic things. And how many manufactured bands or celebrities are famous purely by dint of the media surrounding them? Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, they clearly aren't normal humans as we know it so clearly have been engineered in some way, and yet they are adored without question. This goes for the self-help gurus, radical scientists, alt-med practitioners, and so much more. Obsession and fanatical adoration of non-real or non-genuine people and things is as rife as ever. Perhaps with a bit less emphasis on religion and home crafts, this one's a keeper.

Updated: Thou shall not worship or praise without question anyone or anything, unless you have a bloody good reason for doing so.



3

Thou shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…

Basically, don't bad-mouth God. On that count, I'm earned a number of extra eternities in the pit of fiery torture for this blog alone. But these days, when people say things like 'Oh, God' or 'Jesus Christ!', it's not people actively wanting to disparage religious icons, it's just our language has evolved to the point where the original blasphemous nature has been replaced by a pure frustration or surprise at what is undoubtedly not a spiritual or miraculous event. But restricting what people say in this manner runs completely contrary to freedom of speech. Stopping people saying things on the ground that you 'don't like it' isn't really on at all (despite the best efforts of some). You being offended by something is no excuse to stop something happening, unless the thing being said is being said purely to upset and offend and has no logic or merit outside of that. Unfortunately, the ease of communication these days means this sort of thing is very common and easy to do, and there are many who clearly feel some satisfaction from being anonymously and pointlessly insulting to complete strangers. Freedom of speech is one thing, but freedom to be a pointlessly vindictive twat? I don't think anyone gave their lives for that.

Updated: Thou shall not Troll (even on youtube)



4

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

The Sabbath is not so holy these days, not since Wetherspoons started opening on Sundays. Also, given that the Sabbath immediately follows Saturday nights, it's unlikely that anything particularly holy or spiritual occurs to most people. Not in the mornings, anyway, although many will probably have made vows and religious proclamations while embracing the porcelain. But there are always complaints of things being too hectic lately, to fast paced, too stressed, so an emphasis on relaxation is probably a good idea. Less stress means less anger, less violence and less intoxication.

Updated: Remember to use all your allotted annual leave before the end of the working year.



5

Honour your father and your mother.

A reasonable point, be good to your parents. A more cynical person could view this as an attempt to make sure people are subservient to a higher authority, and then God becomes our 'Father' and gets indirect respect an obedience via a learned reflex. Lucky I'm not cynical, then. This can lead to abuse and bad results though. People from broken homes and/or who have parents that really shouldn't be allowed near lamp posts, let alone children, they're bound by this rule to honor and obey the people who birthed them for no reason other than a biological fluke. But also, it is not always parents who raise you or help you out, it can be foster homes, or just good friends. And the father and mother thing suggests it only applies to typical heterosexual couples, not same sex couples. Christianity doesn't much like the idea of same sex marriage anyway, it seems, but what if you want to obey this commandment but have two mothers or two fathers. Do you respect one and subject the other to constant streams of hideously abusive language? If so, how do you choose which one? I think this commandment actually needs to be less specific.

Updated: Honour those who have honoured you, for whatever reason.



6

Thou shall not murder.

Somewhat hard to argue with this one. And yet, what with all the killings in the name of religious ideals, it seems like some people still can't quite get the hand of it. Some people write it as 'Thou shall not kill'. Still, same lack of understanding. Perhaps it doesn't count as killing or murdering if it's someone who's not part of your religion? Well, we can't have that these days, the streets would literally be filled with blood, and many other gristly, hairy, horrible bits, no doubt. No, this commandment should be made more encompassing so that nobody has a get-out clause or a way of interpreting it so as to give some ambiguity. Also, it could take into account the rise of technology, seamlessly melding with another set of established rules.

Updated: Thou shall not injure or kill another human being, or through inaction allow another human being to come to harm



7

Thou shall not commit adultery.

Again, one that seems perfectly reasonable in isolation. Did you promise to marry and stay with someone forever? Yes? Do you want to have sex with other people as well? Yes? Well, don't! That's cruel and rather gittish. But once again people can interpret this in rather worrying ways. By specifying adultery, it's possibly implied that other forms of negative sexual behaviour are fine. Technically, rape is not adultery if you're not married, so it's ok? No, of course it's not. But it's not specified. And we all know what some priests (self-proclaimed unmarried, chaste men) get up to with children under their care. So although I agree with the point of this one, lets enhance it so it applies to, you know, everyone.

Updated: Thou shall not engage in any form of sexual behaviour with someone who is not willing or mature enough to allow you to do so


8

Thou shall not steal.

Yup, can't argue that. Might benefit from a bit of clarifying to encompass modern definitions of 'stealing' though.

Updated: Thou shall not steal, and that includes plagiarism, proclaiming that somebody else's property was actually yours to begin with without considerable supporting evidence, and illegally pirating materials from a body or source that is not sufficiently successful, powerful or evil to warrant it.



9

Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

I think this one is about lying about your neighbour, and neighbour being a catch-all term for 'someone else who categorically isn't you'. So basically, don't tell lies about other people. I can get on board with that. Seems to be a nasty habit of politicians and lobbying groups the world over. It boils down to people wanting something to happen (or not happen) and being unable to achieve this without removing or discrediting someone who is preventing this thing from happening (or causing it), so they shift blame or cast discrediting aspersions like a bunch of dicks. This sort of behaviour is pathetic and offensive, but also insidious and ingrained in many systems in society, so should be covered by a more sweary commandment to emphasise the point.

Updated: Thou shall deal with your own shit yourself or shut the fuck up about it, and not falsely blame others like a twat



10

Thou shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour's.

Although an essentially well-meant commandment, it's not exactly practical any more. Although it's probably spiritually beneficial to not want things other people have, and to be happy with what you've got an look for some peace in that, if everyone stuck to this rule there's a really good chance that our capitalist economy will collapse. It's still getting itself together after that last time that nearly happened, it's in no fit state to risk it again. People wanting things they don't have is normal and human, and somewhat to be encouraged as it encourages them to work harder. It's the people who just want things for no other reason than greed or status, that's not good or helpful to anyone. Especially when, as is the case worryingly often, they are in charge of banks; or, in several cases, countries. And I also don't like the way that wives and servant are bundled in with inanimate objects and pack animals. That can't be good for the people involved.

Updated: Thou shall not seek to obtain anything or anyone that you are not entitled by virtue of your own efforts only (N.B. being born in privileged circumstances does not classify as 'your own efforts')


So there we are, here are the 10 commandments, updated for modern times.

  1. Thou shall not accept some truths and ignore equivalent truths on the basis of convenience and preconceived notions
  2. Thou shall not worship or praise without question anyone or anything, unless you have a bloody good reason for doing so.
  3. Thou shall not Troll (even on youtube)
  4. Remember to use all your allotted annual leave before the end of the working year
  5. Honour those who have honoured you, for whatever reason
  6. Thou shall not injure or kill another human being, or through inaction allow another human being to come to harm
  7. Thou shall not engage in any form of sexual behaviour with someone who is not willing or mature enough to allow you to do so
  8. Thou shall not steal, and that includes plagiarism, proclaiming that somebody else's property was actually yours to begin with without considerable supporting evidence, and illegally pirating materials from a body or source that is not sufficiently successful, powerful or evil to warrant it.
  9. Thou shall deal with your own shit yourself or shut the fuck up about it, and not falsely blame others like a twat
  10. Thou shall not seek to obtain anything or anyone that you are not entitled by virtue of your own efforts only (N.B. being born in privileged circumstances does not classify as 'your own efforts')

There you go. Feel free to read, ignore and trust your own better judgement immediately. And yes, I did get a lot of these commandments from The Simpsons. So don't go trusting my theology on this or anything related. Just so you know.


P.S. See comments for corrections of my (no doubt numerous) mistakes and misinterpretations. It's the Bible, baby! Happens to the best of us (a group to which I can only aspire to)

Email: Humourology (at) live.co.uk

Twitter: @garwboy


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8 comments:

John Stabler said...

Just need to point out you used "though" in some places where I think you should be using "thou". Also, we now understand "taking the lord's name in vain" to be a prohibition against lying in court or making false oaths, rather than a blasphemy law as you have used it. Apart from that, I like it a lot!

Ruth said...

Actually, I think the "god's name in vain" one still applies as is. It's been misinterpreted a lot as cussing, but that doesn't seem to be the point. A more modern writing of the ancient phrasing would be:

"Don't preach your agenda as god's agenda."

I feel like that's still pretty relevant to a lot of people who go around saying that god supports their war, their bigotry, etc and who are therefore unlikely to listen to any rational debate on the subject. But the phrasing could be updated for clarity.

Or, as John says, swearing to something while lying about it might also apply here.

lizzie said...

I think this is my favourite thing I've seen on your blog. I'm not going to pick you up on anything, I pure and simple enjoyed it!
Also, I'm not sure why but when I read your articles in my head they are read by Huw Stephens. I can't explain it, dont worry if you can't either
:)

TJW said...

11: Thou shalt observe and respect the possessive apostrophe and be fulsome in its correct usage.

...sorry.
Great first ten though.

Dave said...

Firstly, I'd like to call you a cunt for wasting my (well, OK, my employer's) entire afternoon on that ridiculous may-212011.com site, getting angrier and angrier and probably cultivating some kind of ulcer.

Secondly, can you point me to where in any of the vast walls of text on that site it actually says how he's come to the conclusion that May 21st 2011 is the date? All I have managed to find is lots of drivel amounting to 'it must be May/October 21st, because the bible says that in 1988 we will suddenly know the date, and I'm telling you it's that date, and it's now past 1988, so I must be right'. I realise that I'm setting myself up for a terrible disappointment to try and find more logic than that, but please tell me there's some? I'm particularly interested in how he's dealt with details like the change from Julian to Gregorian calendars.

Also, I couldn't see anywhere what he plans to do on October 22nd 2011 in the (unlikely) event that nothing he says is true. Did I miss that, or did he just not mention it?

TJW said...

Seriously, Dean.

"These Macolytes even have their own churches and rally's..."

Should be "rallies" as I'm sure you know (are you leaving it like that just to bug me? I heard a podcast talk about pedantism and I'm resisting the urge to e-mail them that it's actually "pedantry").

(It also says "to fast paced". Sorry)

Tor Hershman said...

POPE GUY The Pontiff Man ;-)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfNJWOZPbSw

Eluned said...

Dean - why does Science Digestive clearly have a cookie in it's logo?

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