Meditating on the teaching of Abraham.
My friend likes to watch soap operas and if I drop by during their play I have to immediately can it until a commercial comes on. That's not easy for me, because I do seem to like to chatter on. At least a "hello" anyway. But once the commercial starts we get into the various characters and what they used to be like. I often comment on the dresses and odd hairstyles, comparing them with Kabuki costumes. I'm not always sure if she knows what I mean by that. So it's like that, like an old lady's knitting circle and one of them had come back from holiday and the others had to get her caught up on the latest. I can't remember the names and circles of incest and desires that she always explains for me but I appreciate the effort. She's a good friend.
From time to time one of these characters has an accident or is shot or somehow or another they get hurt, badly, and there they are in the hospital with the white gowns and tubes and machines wheezing. Sometimes it's a coma, sometimes amnesia will result, or they simply wake up one day. Often in that time where one of them is still with tubes and white gowns my friend will get agitated and exclaim that should she ever be in that condition, I should somehow take her out, "like that woman boxer in that movie, the one with Clint Eastwood, when he injected that stuff into her tubes. You should just take me out so I won't be trapped in that wheelchair." And then she remembers my son and starts to change the subject, but then it's out there and I have to respond. "No, I don't think so. I don't think I could do it. Not that I don't think it should be done, but if I don't have the hair to do it for my son, I don't think I could do it for you. I'm sorry." This puts a damper for awhile on the soaps.
Yet Abraham had no second thoughts, according to the various accounts. He was ready, even eager, to slash his son's throat. And all because a voice spoke to him. I don't know, maybe it's just the way I relate to authority, but if I had a voice telling me to slit my son's throat, I would have to ask for a second opinion. Now we have three large religions based on the life story of a man who was ready and willing and eager to slit his son because a voice told him to. At the moment several of the subdivisions of these three sects of the One True Faith are shooting, bombing, slashing, hacking, gassing and pretty much a whole slew of crap towards other people who claim the same heritage, and it is exactly because they claim the same God they are being targeted. And they have no second thoughts about it. Wow. To be that focussed and sure must be like being on a good quality speed rush in the middle of a guitar riff that howls to the heavens. I bet our President feels that way every time he orders another bombing. Awesome.
Suppose they did come to me with a form to sign and with that signing I would say that I at least, had no problem with them adding a considerable amount of barbiturates to his nightly tube feeding? What if, like the President, I was to be elevated to some near-godly status, being enabled to write off a human life with no consequences? Could I ever breathe again? Suppose I signed and some day they gave me a small cardboard package of my son's ashes to scatter, would I have the balls to scatter them around my house, or would I rush down to Arizona and dump them in the Grand Canyon? Yet Abraham might have burned the remains of his son and scattered the ashes around his house, no sweat. Because a voice told him to do it. He just had a gut feeling this was the one true voice, the one to listen to, not unlike the one that told George to set in motion a slow, grinding, mangling machine of crunching buildings and exploding land mines, sucking in everything in front of it and pushing out destroyed lives from the rear, this War on Terror he wants so much.
I often wonder how many times God has swooped low down and demanded a man show his faith by slashing his own child's throat. Seems to me that would take balls of steel. The slashing, not the asking, although maybe the asking too. Let's face it, if anybody I know was spoken to and told to slash their child open, there would be a very awkward moment. Yet for God, it can't be a very awkward moment because He can swoop, trickle, sparkle or otherwise manifest Himself in some other woman and make a new son. So offing one son isn't that big a deal. God doesn't get divine erectile dysfunction. But the first guy to write down this story, or maybe even to hear it... that must have been interesting. It's 3AM and you are dragging your drunk friend home. You get thru the front door, down into the living room, dump him on the couch and you turn to go but he grabs your arm and pulls you back. "Listen," he says,"I want to tell you something." You turn and try to pry him loose, but he's got a good grip. So you listen. "There was this voice, a voice like you never heard before. It just came out of nowhere. It was all around me. And it spoke, it told me..... it said.... it wanted me to take my son Jon, my oldest boy, and take him outside to that old stone altar we have from Grand Dad's days and lay him out and take that big butcher knife of mine... I didn't want to do it, but I was afraid. I was more afraid of that voice than anything I ever knew. I just took that boy, and I laid him out, and I took the knife. I took the knife and swung it up and came down with it... and just an inch from his throat my arm froze. I couldn't bring it down and I was so afraid I had failed that I wet myself. I stood there pissing myself and the voice spoke again, and it said "Good boy." I was glad. I was so glad that I had done okay that I never thought about what I would have done if that voice hadn't come back and stopped me. What I would have said to my wife, to the neighbors. To the Rabbi..."
We have three vast bodies of mankind slashing at the throats of each other. and what will we do if there is no voice? What if no Hand of God reaches down to stop the murder? So strange. For that matter, what if the Voice comes back and it's speaking Cantonese? Wouldn't that be embarrassing?
Still, the nut doesn't fall far from the tree. You know the quality of a faith by the stories that the followers follow, the ones they talk a lot about. Oddly enough all three of these faiths seem to talk a lot about torture, death, wars, incest and pretty much all those things we would do without the influence of religion to make it easier to slash one's neighbor.