A controversial tablet displaying the Ten Commandments, located on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, USA.

Does it never occur to so many folks that monotheism–belief in an authoritarian ruler (male, though I don’t suppose Gee Oh Dee needs genitalia)–is the locus of totalitarianism?

Furthermore, Judaism–as Christianity and Islam would later do–codifies intolerance. The story of the Exodus, to take the most obvious example, reads today like a Stalinist manual on the suppression of dissent.*…

*Throughout the story the Hebrews are complaining: they are sick of the hardships of the desert and want to go back to Egypt, where they at least ate well, even as slaves. When Moses comes down from the mountain and discovers the people worshiping the Golden Calf (a god they have collectively fashioned out of their own jewelry, rather than an authority imposed from above; and a god for whom the proper obeisance is celebration not sacrifice) his response is to strengthen the priesthood and initiate a purge; three thousand are killed. It takes them forty years to cross two hundred miles of desert, not because the Hebrews have such a lousy sense of direction, but rather because Yahweh and Moses deliberately keep them going in circles until all those who remember Egypt are dead and a new indoctrinated generation has taken over. Only then can they enter the promised land.

From Eliot Weinberger’s “The Modernists in the Basement & the Stars Above”

Exodus 32 (1599 Geneva Bible)–here is my favorite part:

26 And Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who pertaineth to the Lord? let them come to me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves unto him.
27 Then he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel: Put every man his sword by his side, go to and fro, from gate to gate, through the host, and [m]slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.
28 So the children of Levi did as Moses had commanded: and there fell of the people the same day about three thousand men.
29 (For Moses had said, Consecrate your hands unto the Lord this day, even every man upon his [n]son, and upon his brother, that there may be given you a blessing this day.)
30 And when the morning came, Moses said unto the people, Ye have committed a grievous crime: but now I will go up to the Lord, if I may pacify him for your sin.
31 Moses therefore went again unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold….

[The people sinned by "errant" prayer--and the murder of those who "made" aaron fashion an idol was righteous!]

35 So the Lord plagued the people, because they caused Aaron to make the calf which he made.

The Lord plagued them, after he used them to murder a faction of dissenters…lovely book this bible.

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Douglas Storm is a host and producer for Interchange on Bloomington, Indiana's community radio station WFHB. "Why then do you try to 'enlarge' your mind? Subtilize it..."

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