Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My "Favorite" Bible Stories: #1 The Good Samaritan

I'd like to begin irregular installments of my "favorite" bible stories and lessons as they were indoctrinated to me in my childhood. As my good friend, a token gay church attendee, B-Gizzle says, "Everyone likes a good story. Right?" The purpose to is see a reverse side to the incredibly asinine teaching found in the holy scripture. But, as with everything else, they will arrive at my leisure or inspiration.

The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-27)

In this backwards parable (a story meant to teach a lesson, but usually doing a piss-poor job of it), a religious "expert" asks Jesus the secret to life eternal. Jews of course don't believe in heaven or the afterlife. This "expert" was referring to literal eternal life, AKA the Fountain of Life. Or, he was being incredibly sarcastic, because Jesus was preaching about heaven and the afterlife. I haven't personally decided which interpretation I like best.

Jesus asks him his personal interpretation of Moses's Law and tells him by following this he will "live". Eternally? Well, he doesn't really say that. Thereby, cryptically, not really answering his question. This is not so bad in itself. It reminds me of the koans used by zen masters, not really answering the student's question directly. The idea is for the student to experience reality/enlightenment for him/herself.

The "expert's" answer to Jesus is a phenomenally G-rated version of Jewish canonical law: love God and love your neighbor. Volumes could be written about the how most of the Old Testament completely contradicts these pious goals. But we'll go with this answer for now. It's his opinion, which he's entitled to. And it was an insightful answer, even if it's incorrect.

Next, the religious "expert" asks: who is my neighbor? I can't help but think Mr. Rogers would agree that a quick reading of the text would lead any (uneducated) person to believe that "neighbor" means "any one who's not you", pisshead! Is it really that difficult? It's like Taco Bell burrito brain surgery (when I wait eons in my car while they surgically construct my fuckin' burrito). But then, Jews have always been sticklers for semantics (no pun intended, but that's still pretty funny).

To explain the very simple concept of loving everyone, Jesus tells the story of The Good Samaritan. Some dude gets raped and pillaged and left by the side of the road. Who's gonna help him? A priest and a pious Jew pass by the troubled soul. Jesus doesn't say why, but I really think he should have. Did they not see him? Did they not have time? Is it like when you pass by the homeless guy, trying not to make eye contact? I think the majority of people can tell the difference between a panhandler and a guy who's just been violently attacked to the point where he can't go somewhere for help on his own.

Back in the day, Samaritans were to Jews what Mexican drug smugglers, pro-lifers, and lesbian sluts are to the Tea Party. That is to say, a dirty excuse for humanity. So, of course, in Jesus's story, the dirty, rotten, cuckold Samaritan is the one to help the severely beaten man. Whom, in his right Jewish mind, probably would have rather died than be saved by the scoundrel. In fact, Jewish law probably dictates that after such an encounter the recovering victim must be cleansed in the mikveh (ritual bath) with the niddahs (menstruating women). At least Jesus didn't have a niddah rescue the stranger. I don't think there are enough mikvehs in the universe to cleanse him from that!

Which one was a neighbor to the helpless man? The Samaritan, obviously. The priest and the religious man were not neighbors. So, back to the original question: who is my neighbor? The Samaritan, again. And, to bring the lesson full circle, in order to gain eternal life, I am to love my neighbor -- the dirty, worthless human being with a heart of gold -- and not the religious hypocrites. I mean, those two assholes weren't neighborly according to Jesus, right? So, whom am I to love (according to the Bible)? Answer: Only whomever loves me.

This Bible story, which supposedly teaches followers to love people who are different from themselves, is really telling us that we only have to love the people who are good to us. More specifically, people who rescue us in our dire need. That takes my love quotient for humanity down quite a bit. It also explains why religious bigots can guiltlessly blow up abortion clinics and slut shame anyone who doesn't fit the mono-ideal. 

Ah, I finally understand!